Hey there, what’s cooking? If you often find yourself at a loss when asked this question, get to one of the independent bookstores listed below. Each and every one has cookbooks galore, from newly-published works by the world’s hottest chefs, to near-impossible-to-find editions of classics for newbies and professionals alike. By Jessica Allen.
Compared to some of the other spots on this list, Greenpoint’s Archestratus Books & Finds is something of a baby. The relatively new bookstore, named for an ancient Greek poet, cookbook author, and philosopher, stocks a variety of writing about food — from cookbooks to memoirs, professionally-produced tomes and decidedly more DIY endeavors. On select nights, the café in the back goes beyond the usual coffee and light snacks to serve up more fully-fleshed out dinners.
Perhaps the city’s best-loved store for cookbooks, Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks is the place to go for vintage cookbooks and food writing. Slotnick is often on hand to make recommendations about a first-edition early American book about cocktails, a more up-to-date book about etiquette, an old issue of Gourmet, or one of the other 5,000 or so titles in the East Village store. We particularly love the children’s corner, with regular readings and events for little ones. Call or check the website before you go; the shop keeps somewhat idiosyncratic hours.
Named for the owner, Joanne Hendricks Cookbooks boasts an eclectic array of writing and objects related to cooking. To enter, you knock on a wooden door bearing a plaque that says “cookbooks,” on the first floor of a brick townhouse dating to the early 1800s. Don’t be surprised to feel as if you’ve stepped back in time—the Greenwich Village shop has been around for a few decades, and the books themselves even longer. Hendricks specializes in antiquarian, out-of-print, and rare cookbooks — along with photographs, tableware, and menus. Your best attitude when browsing is quiet awe.
Some of the rarest cookbooks are housed at Kitchen Arts & Letters, a storied store on the Upper East Side. Among the treasures on its shelves are books about flavor flours, Quique Dacosta, and Napa cuisine; all told, there are some 13,000 books to be perused. There are new titles from around the world, as well as rare first editions of classics and hard-to-find copies of magazines like Lucky Peach, Saveur, and Food Arts.
For going on 90 years, the Strand has sold books, lots and lots and lots of books. Indeed, the Union Square store’s tagline is “18 miles of books,” and it’s definitely not an exaggeration. Stretched out over three levels, the family-run store has a tome or three for every type of reader, including food lovers, food makers, food writers, and food historians. The cookbooks here tend to be relatively recent, with a good selection of new and used books, from vegetarian to celebrity chefs. The Strand is a regular stop for many established and up-and-coming authors, so bookmark the store’s events calendar.