343 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10009
(212) 477-8791

Life Cafe, in the East Village, its right on the edge of Tompkins Square Park. I had initially planned on meeting MLE at one of those coffee-and-books places, but we happened to pick a burning hot, humid day to get together, and the cafe had no air conditioning. We left. It was a good day to sit outside anyway. So off to Life Cafe we went, a place that I'd walked past often enough, but never bothered to actually go to.

Life Cafe is essentially the hipster version of a diner. There's no chrome or mirrors and the food, while pretty standard diner food (burgers, fries, wings, etc.) comes with a wee twist. There is a specials section to the menu that looks pretty good, but we didn't order any entrees. There's a healthy amount of streetside seating, which is where MLE and I plopped our rears, and the inside has a distinctly restauranty feeling. Most (if not all) real diners are brightly lit with the occasional miniature, tabletop jukebox, Life Cafe is pretty dark. Finally, Life Cafe has a good drink menu and I hear is a good (and crowded) weekend brunch spot.

MLE, having just been relieved of the burden of pregnancy, pushed her stroller up to the table and was able to have her first glorious beer in nine months. Blue Moon. I ordered a Black and Tan. Neither of us were terribly hungry, so we stuck with appetizers. They were actually pretty big. We started with Life Cafe's 10 piece Harisa Buffalo Wings, which are African-spiced. Very often, wings come deep fried with Tobasco on top. They're greasy, tasteless, pathetic attempts at wings, demonstrative of a complete and total lack of any energy by the chef. Life Cafe's wings are not like this at all. These were big, juicy, not fatty, good-tasting wings. My one, and I mean one, complaint was that I asked for the hottest wings they had and they gave me something in the middle-zone of heat. Admittedly, my tolerance is pretty high, but there's a certain expectation that comes with the heat rating of "suicidal".

Next up came the Divvy Nachos, which is pretty much what nachos are supposed to be: a mountain of chips on which is a heaping of sour cream, guacamole, cheese, beef, olives, and salsa. If you go somewhere and order nachos, and anything comes out that isn't hufrickinmonguous, then they don't know what they're doing. At no point in time should you ever receive your nachos and think "I can finish this".

One nice thing was that we were never rushed. We could sit and drink and eat and drink and sit for as long as we liked without getting rushed to order something else or pay the bill. The other customers were nice, but I guess almost everyone is when you have a baby with you.

As hipster havens are expanding, Life Cafe has opened a second spot in Bushwick (though it's new hip name is East Williamsburg). This may come as a disappointment to those who were investing in the expansion of the Kennedy Fried Chicken franchise, but for the rest of us who'd like to be able to travel anywhere in the city and get a good meal, I rejoice.

So two Blue Moons, two black and tans, a plate of nachos, and an order of wings, with tax and tip, came just shy of $50.

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