I was walking through SoHo yesterday and feeling pretty well alienated. Chain store after luxury store after chain-luxury store. Unless you're on a shopping mission and have a credit card in your pocket with a high limit, there's little reason for a New Yorker to hang out in this neighborhood.
Then I turned the corner at Prince and West Broadway, and I breathed a little easier. Could the short block of Prince between West Broadway and Thompson be the most untouched in this very-changed area? At the corner of Thompson and Prince, you have the old standby bar Milady's, that hangs on year after year, despite a lack of glitz and glam. Across the street is the old M & O Market ("Imported and Domestic Products"), one of the few sizable groceries in the neighborhood.
A couple doors down is the frowsy Cafe Borgia, pretending since 1975 that its still 1963. And across the street is Vesuvio Bakery, which, though it's now a branch of City Bakery, still retains its classic facade and uses its basement ovens. The stretch has a so much more relaxed atmosphere that the surrounding blocks.