The only thing more satisfying than devouring a good book may be devouring it along with a delicious snack, but your appetite for both novels and noshes doesn't mean you're doomed to spend your day in a big-box chain bookstore. Check out these local and independent bookstores that are within a hop skip and a jump of a noteworthy cup of joe.
Pair wine with Wilder at Book Cellar, Inc.
With a tightly edited selection of children's and general interest books, the Book Cellar is a one-stop haven for those who prefer to pair Merlot with a bit of James Joyce. The recommendations and reviews that dot the bookshelves make browsing a breeze, and with more than a dozen varieties of wine at $6.50 to $8 a glass, it's no mystery why the Book Cellar plays host to a number of local book groups. Make it a meal with lunchy items like a roast beef sandwich and carrot and ginger soup, many of which come from Southport Grocery. The wide counter is covered with baked treats, including richly iced chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, though the refined can opt for a cheese plate and glass of Pinot Noir.
Stroll from 57th Street Books to Medici Bakery
One of the best bookstores in the city, 57th Street Books is a subterranean dream for any browsing bookworm. With five winding rooms filled with books and a squeal-worthy selection of magazines, you could easily spend hours meandering inside. But once you've selected your book, skip the skimpy seating area and head down the block to the Medici Bakery. At a high wooden table overlooking a spacious park, linger over your new read while munching on a croissant, cinnamon roll, fruit tart or "garbage" cookie, laden with peanut butter, chocolate chips, raisins, M&Ms and oatmeal. The famous Mexican hot chocolate, made with cinnamon and ground chocolate, can be served up hot or as a decadent milk shake.
Take a trip at Kopi Cafe
Snag a guidebook or collection of travel essays from the bookshelves near the back of this traveler's cafe then curl up at a floor-level table surrounded by pillows in the cafe's window. The beverage menu alone is enough to make you linger, with fresh juice combos, loose leaf teas and a long list of ice cream/drink combos like the heady homemade chai milkshakes. Though the cafe offers a full (vegetarian-friendly) menu and table service, the atmosphere is decidedly unrushed. There are plenty of homemade scones and muffins on hand, but the counter's crowd of cake trays is worth some serious consideration, especially if you opt for the stomach-bursting carrot cake, which is heavy on the moist carrots and sweet buttercream icing.
Kick back at Myopic Books and Filter
Myopic's giddying number of inexpensive used books is spread over a multi-storied custom-built labyrinth of bookshelves, patrolled by an apathetic store cat. With a fiction section large enough to make an English major weep and a beefy range of everything from graphic novels to cookbooks, it'll be hunger rather than boredom that finally forces you out. Head no further than across-the-street Filter for a full (and veggie-friendly) menu of edibles and plenty of mismatched chairs on which to lounge with your recent acquisitions. Almost everything here is made on-site, with the cakes brought in from Sweet Thang around the corner. Drinks run from the tried and true to the inventive, like the Che Guavara, made with guava, lemonade and ice tea.
Relax at Transitions Bookplace and Cafe
If the idea of self-help has you rolling your eyes and New Age brings dusty crystals to mind, get over to Transitions, if only to expand your definitions. With a cheerful, uncluttered atmosphere and neatly arranged books on topics like world religions, yoga and recovery, its hard not to leave the stacks feeling inspired, and if you're looking for project-specific motivation you'll find it here in spades. The adjoining cafe's homemade organic treats range from pastel-pink cherry lemon cake to a light and tangy gazpacho bread bowl. The menu varies slightly by season, with hearty soups in winter and crisp salads and fruit pies come summertime. The seating here is ample, from spacious tables to a wide bar at the windows.