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A Matcha Master's Guide to NYC

It was brotherly bonding that led Max and Graham Fortgang to start experimenting with matcha back in 2012. Graham (then a marketing major at NYU) would visit Max’s East Village apartment each morning before work, and Max would whip up a different matcha concoction: iced, muddled with cucumber, thickened with almond milk. “Max got me hooked,” says Graham, who started noticing all the drink’s positive effects: “My heart wasn’t racing, my mind was clear, I had good energy. And unlike coffee, no acid reflux. I was on fire!”

Taking that idea of pairing matcha with fruits and non-dairy milks further, they joined up to open MatchaBar, the country’s first matcha-focused cafe, in 2014. (Read the full story here.) Their enthusiasm for the bright green beverage caught on right away. On a given day, the bustling Williamsburg cafe, accented with dark foliage wallpaper and a neon green vintage clock, draws a wide array of customers: Brooklyn freelancers typing away on laptops, matcha lovers (like me) in for their daily fix, and tourists trekking out to see this tea bar they’ve read so much about. 

Now in its second year—plus a newly opened Chelsea location across the river—MatchaBar has become a thriving community hub, with over 13,000 followers on Instagram, and frequent in-store events. But outside of their own, self-conjured matcha world, where else in New York do the brothers find inspiration? Here, Graham sounds off on his favorite places around the city for:

…breakfast

Barney Greengrass

Barney Greengrass, on the Upper West Side, has the best lox. I use this as an excuse to stroll through Central Park on a weekend morning—I’ll generally start on 79th Street on the East Side and stop by the Great Lawn on the way west. Max and I have been going with our entire family since we were kids. Get the latkes, and the lox and onions scramble, which comes with a bagel of your choice—your life will never be the same. Nap required afterwards.”

…NY's best deli sandwich

Sunny & Annie's on 6th and Avenue B (open 24/7) has the most inventive, fresh, and kick-ass sandwiches you will ever come across in a NYC bodega. It took years of experimenting to find this out. Get the "BLT special" or the "John Kerry"—always a fresh flavorful spin whether it's made with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, or an extra fried egg. They have a good 20 signature sandwiches to choose from, so leave 15 minutes for decision-making!”

…a fun date adventure 

East River Ferry

“Ride the subway down to South Street Seaport, and hit the East River Ferry. It only costs a few bucks for a boat ride with views of the NY skyline...plus you can buy beers at the docking station. Get off in DUMBO and take a stroll on the waterfront.”

…groceries

“If I am cooking, I generally hit Whole Foods on Union Square. The store is next to the L, so it's an easy commute back to Brooklyn. You can also snag one of our new bottled matcha teas, which contains a full 2-gram serving of our ceremonial-grade matcha, just like every cup we serve at the cafe. Lately, I spend my days walking the streets, deli to deli, bodega to bodega, opening up new store accounts one by one.”

…dancing

“They recently re-opened a performance space called the House of Yes, which was one of the first venues here in NY with real personality and creative vision. Nothing beats a night of good music, aerial performances, and the best crowd in Brooklyn.”

…seafood

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. The chef Andrew Wheeler is a magician; his smoked mussels and changing-daily whole fish are to die for.”

…a well-earned drink

Bohemian is a secret restaurant near the Bowery with a kick-ass matcha cocktail called the "Missing Piece." It's served in a traditional matcha bowl using a ceremonial-grade matcha tea powder.”

…a mini-vacation

“Head up to Greenport, New York, and visit the newly opened American Beech hotel. Complete with a bar and connected restaurant, the hotel is perfect for a weekend getaway with someone special, or group of friends. The outdoor lounge has some amazing live music programming, which happens to go hand in hand with a cocktail and few deep breaths.”

>>Next: This Tiny Japanese Town is the Origin of the "Superfood" Matcha