Note: This post is part of an ongoing exploration of destinations on the bike-accessible fringes of the city, which began with the epic Manhattan Circumference Scouting Trip.
According to HopStop, which is generally accurate, it would take 35-45 minutes to travel between the West Village and the Pier i Cafe, at W. 70th Street and the Hudson River, via subway, depending on how close you were to a stop for the 1 train.
By bike, it’s a sweet, 20-minute cruise on one of the most enjoyable bike paths I’ve ever encountered: Sun glinting off the river to your left, the buildings of the city rolling by on your right, the path itself flat and smooth, with enough curves and kinks to keep it interesting, and full of activity on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon — without being over crowded.
And then, racing up this long, straight stretch on the backside of Riverside Park South, bam! A sea of iron tables anchored by huge, shady umbrellas; families, friends, couples, dogs, reclining with pitchers of sangria, lunchtime snack food, lemonade; laughing, talking, staring out at the river quietly. Welcome to the Pier i Cafe.
I would never come here by foot. Okay, that’s not true. If I didn’t have a bike, I’d probably make it a destination anyway, but now that I have a bike the only way to get here is on wheels. For me, one hundred percent of Pier i Cafe’s appeal is how perfectly located it is for cyclists going between Central Park and/or the “uppers” — Upper West Side and Upper East Side — and downtown destinations. It’s right in that sweet spot.
And the scenery, but that goes without saying. You pay for it, too, but no more than at other bars in the city with great views, be it the people watching at Employee’s Only or the Empire State Building towering above you at the rooftop Mé Bar.
They’re not as bad as ballpark prices, but a pitcher of beer ends up being $24 (we split a pitcher of Sam Adams Summer Ale), sangria $31. Every once and a while though … totally worth it.
Pier i Cafe, W. 70th Street at Riverside Park, 212.362.4450