Last night, my bestie and I decided to meet in SoHo for an early dinner and a girly catch up. As we tossed around potential restaurants, it turned out we had some criteria. It had to be lively but not too loud, cute but not too hipster, healthy but not too expensive and most importantly within walking distance and with outdoor seating. Phew! We decided to walk towards the magical square mile dominated by Mott Street and, after passing a few cute, bistro-like Japanese places, quickly agreed on Café Gitane.
Neither of us had eaten here before but we’d heard and seen many a happy customer. A quick look at the delicious menu and we were sold. We snagged the last outdoor table (literally on the sidewalk) and settled into our tiny wrought iron chairs, which had been endearingly tethered to the windowsill. Our waitress was extremely friendly with traces of an Australian accent. She quickly brought us menus and a bottle of tap water. The place itself is adorable. Charming and cozy on the inside, there are a few tables on the sidewalk as well as a small window for takeout customers.
The menu could be described as French-Moroccan but it’s actually a “lite version” without the cream, cheese and butter of the French or the rice, curry and meat of the Moroccans. It’s mostly French inspired salads and open-face sandwiches, a few couscous dishes and some other light, flavorful concoctions. We both chose the arugula, beet, herbed chicken salad, which arrived garnished with goat-cheese topped bruschetta. Yum! Besides the delicious food and some Italian-style desserts, there’s also a good selection of champagne cocktails, fresh juices (including watermelon), lemonade spritzers and coffees.
We sat and chatted in our prime outdoor real estate for well over two hours and did not feel rushed at all (it was Monday night though, mind you). Several of our fellow outdoor diners had brought their dogs along who were patiently waiting and happy to be petted by the beautiful passersby. Cafe Gitane is the perfect place for a girly catch-up. It’s cozy, friendly, inexpensive and delicious. If you’re looking for a healthy meal with a French Moroccan twist and some of the best people-watching in the city, I’d highly recommend stopping by. Be warned though – its tiny tables and pixie-esque proportions make Gitane quite ill-suited for the large-boned, so if you’re used to having lots of personal space, I wouldn’t go here!