Maman: NYC’s Newest Charming French Café

Located right in between SoHo and Chinatown, Maman is easy to miss, situated a fair distance away from the bustle of Broadway shopping and the Chinatown markets. This casual French café serves all its food in convenient to-go boxes and just opened a few weeks ago. Despite this and its location, when I stepped in for a quick lunch, the place was pretty packed.

Just because the café is designed for take-away food doesn’t mean they’ve sacrificed quality. Quite the opposite, in fact. By limiting their menu to a few selections per day (which you can track on their Facebook page until the website is fully functioning), they’re able to use fresh, local ingredients to make large batches of delicious food all ready to serve.

Walking into the café, you’re met with rustic, whimsical décor (case in point: the amazing rabbit vase below), large bowls of fresh salad, and cases filled with warm pastries. Coffee and espresso drinks are a bit pricey but nothing too shocking compared to Starbucks, with a regular drip coffee costing $2.50 and a latte around $4. The real bargain here are the quiches and tartinettes, which start at $6 and peak at just $8.

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Now, the food itself. While the menu does change every day, there seem to be a few mainstays, at least for this season. I opted for the smashed avocado tartinette and a lemon-thyme madeleine with an iced coffee (price wasn’t listed, but it ended up being $4—a bit much, but well worth getting to use one of the adorable blue and white-striped straws!).

The avocado tartinette wasn’t your typical mushed avocado on toast. With some thin apple slices, onion, and arugula sprinkled on top, the tartinette had a crisp taste. The bread was delicious, although a bit soggy since it had been sitting in the display case for a little while. Definitely well worth $6, though!

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Now for Maman’s specialty: dessert. I got a lemon and thyme madeleine, which I was lucky enough to order just as a new batch came out of the oven. By the time I had finished my avocado toast, the madeleine was perfectly warm. The lemon flavor was just right, and the thyme was just subtle enough. It was definitely one of the best, most moist madeleines I’ve had.

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If you ever find yourself around SoHo or Chinatown, it’s well worth going a bit out of the way for Maman. It’s cute, cheap, and most importantly, delicious. If you forego dessert (although I can’t see how anyone could do that there), it even leans on the healthy side. What more could you ask for?