119 Avenue A
Odessa Restaurant squats across the West side of Tompkins Square Park on Avenue A; another twenty-four hour diner which often catches post-club wanderers looking for coffee and possibly a bagel.
As a diner, Odessa is generally unremarkable in it's appearance or menu. Prices are average, the food is average, and the place is reasonably clean. Calling it a cafe is probablya misnomer however; cafes require dim lighting, spiritually if not by definition, whereas Odessa uses bright flourescent lights. After an evening of club lights and merriment, this can be subtly or not-so-subtly irritating.
It seems to gain more attention than the average diner from Pyramid and Bank attendees because it tends to be closer than Yaffa by about a block; and to a stumbling club crawler that extra block might be a million miles, especially in the bitterness of an early winter morning. Some people will be willing to go the extra distance for better food, but it's a matter of personal preference. The bagels at Yaffa are really no better, if that's what you're into; anything more challenging and Odessa shows it's limitations.
The real negative of Odessa is that frequently in the post-club timeframe, it also attracts extremely seedy people who frequently invite themselves to hapless customers' tables and oblige an extremely awkward "buzz off" to get them to leave you alone. Unwashed junkies make me lose my appetite, and are very poor conversation. The management is reluctant to ask them to depart. This is a consequence both of the reasonable prices of Odessa, and it's proximity to the junkie-infested Tompkins Square area; Odessa cannot afford to alienate any slice of it's weekly clientele if it wants to survive.
Commentary by Clifford Hartleigh Low, Thursday, February 19, 1998.