look ma two hands

After finally emerging from my apartment last Saturday afternoon, the doorman’s emphatic nod at his watch and the ping of another “are you seriously still asleep?” double text were enough to send me right back to the Lower East to continue the previous night’s antics. However, the grumble of an empty stomach urged me to prioritize more important things: brunch.

Following the results of a groggy yelp search for “aca bowl slash health nyc open now,” I hopped off the 6 at Canal Street and soon found myself face-to-face with a man’s camera. After a couple of seconds of “Oh my God, how can he…” while also making sure my good side was closer to the camera, I realized that my good side hadn’t been captured at all. Instead, I saw that this man was trying to get the best angle on a brightly colored bowl of food in front of him. Good sign for a food blogger. I was committed. And also about to pop in a third piece of gum to stave off starvation, so I approached the host stand while craning my neck to get a better look at my photographer’s grub.

An Aussie accent (good sign for even non-GF gfs) called me out for “loit-uh-rang” outside of the restaurant. I couldn’t muster the energy to clarify that I had been posing for man-at-the-window-bar, and instead followed my “mate” (jeez, buy me a bowl first) obediently through the threshold.

Inside, the decor is quite hipster. Waitresses sport an effortlessly chic uniform of high-waisted jean cut-offs and high-top converse reminiscent of the racks at the nearby Vintage Twin, sitting down next to customers or leaning on the table as mesmerized customers order rounds and rounds of matcha just to get more of the accent.  Giant cotton-ball clouds hang from the ceiling and abstract, colorblock paintings protrude from the north wall, while a glance at the room’s ubiquitously constricted napes had me happy that I had opted for the Urban choker.

While its cool decor sets the scene nicely for a new insta–at the end of the day–the promise of cotton orbs did not get me out of bed. Two Hands Cafe is a beacon of hope for celiacs situated amongst the shops and restaurants of Little Italy. While your friends stop by an old pastry shop for an eclair, you can elbow a preteen or two out of your way (I was there at 2 pm and I just barely squeezed into a corner table) and soon find yourself sitting in front of a menu that even codes for gluten free and vegan items. My waitress didn’t blink an eye at my allergy, and my acai bowl was soon delivered. Portions are medium-sized, and that–coupled with the deprivation I felt far from the Bare Bowls of Palo Alto–meant that my pretty, chocolate-y, well-balanced bowl was soon merely a picture on the camera roll.

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While on my next visit it may be hard to resist the urge to fill the pangs of deprivation I feel without acai bowls on the East Coast, I definitely want to try some of the other GF eats.

Order like a GF would:

Fruit bowl, granola bowl, acai bowl, dans chia pudding (which looked BAE), corn fritters, and all salads. GF Baked goods include almond vanilla, chocolate walnut, and chocolate chip cookies, and their signature banana/walnut bread! While there is no boozy brunch to help you forget about your failed crowd-surfing attempt at LPR, a large menu of coffee, tea, hot/cold matcha, smoothies, juices, almond milk, and kombucha will help to nurse your body back to health.

Bottom Line:

Two Hands’s is the best GF acai bowl I’ve had in the city. While small portions make this spot less than ideal for a date with your muscle-man bf (but apparently ideal if interested in man-in-the-window), it’s perfect for a shopping snack or a ladies’ lunch. And although they lack a GF bread option, you can’t beat the labeled menu and the tasty GF granola. Be prepared to wait if you go for brunch on a weekend or grab some of their raw GF baked goodies to-go with a matcha latte as you head to Nolita to spend window-shop with your (nonexistent) paycheck. Hipsters and insta-famous alike will flock to this mecca for trendy posts, while your GF gf will simply be back for the accents.

 

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