As the home of Columbia University, Morningside Heights has changed to accommodate more demanding eaters. Where can you get a good bagel and cup of coffee, fast slice, or sit-down meal? Here's our updated guide to answer those questions.
'Morningside Heights' on Serious Eats
The folks behind Harlem's first ramen shop, Jin Ramen, have opened up their second sit-down restaurant on the corner of 121st street and Amsterdam. Flat Top, named after the griddle that most of their food is cooked on, serves up a menu of American-style bistro food with a somewhat upscale French and Mediterranean bent.
This sandwich won't rock your world, but it's a satisfying lunch for six bucks.
It's usually a good omen to see repeat customers—especially locals—coming back for something. One had just placed an order for a raspberry croissant, and who am I to argue with the regulars?
Think about the Hungarian Pastry Shop and you're bound to think of strudel. But you may be better off with a couple of these Walnut Macaroons ($.85 each) instead.
Though it's one of NYC's most iconic sweets, the black and white cookie is rarely something for dessert lovers to celebrate. Here's what we think makes a good black and white, and where you can find it.
There was a time back when your only options for Asian food in the Morningside Heights vicinity were a semi-decent Korean barbecue joint, pre-fab Japanese-ish sushi, or takeout Chinese joints that specialized in fried chicken. Things have improved massively since then. Today there's not just one, but two Vietnamese sandwich shops within walking distance of one another in the vicinity. I decided to hop on my bike and check them out in a head-to-head sandwich-off.
The only things that I had around my corner to eat growing up was a couple of fried-chicken-peddling Chinese takeout joints, some poor pizza, and the Uni One Gourmet Deli on Broadway just south of Tiemann Place. In all my fifteen years living there, I never set foot in deli, but had Twitter existed when I was a kid, I might have known that a great sandwich was right under my nose the entire time.
Though I left Columbia and New York to work in restaurants in elsewhere, I've ended up right back near my old Columbia stomping grounds. Here are my old faves and some new loves for bagels, coffee, brunch, and some great comfort food.
Sure, it's not the $5 number from the local taco truck, but quality ingredients and great flavor justify Cascabel's pricey and slightly unconventional Mexican chicken sandwich.
We write about restaurants all over the city. But sometimes, you don't want to travel for food; you want the best eats right in your neighborhood. So we're having the Serious Eats staff share where they eat around their own 'hoods. Today? Serious Eats Managing Editor J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on Morningside Heights.
In my opinion, New York could always do with a few more good Thai restaurants, particularly ones that lean towards to the hotter, more impassioned, down-and-dirty end of the scale. I mean, they exist already, but most are a trek for me. The closest we've got in the northern reaches of Manhattan is Thai Market, a street-food themed restaurant near Columbia campus that is one of the better options north of the Village.
Cubanos (or mixtos as they're called in Cuba and Miami), with their meaty/tangy blend of roast pork, ham, cheese, and pickles, have a pretty secure spot in the list of top 10 sandwiches of all time. It can be pretty tough to find a great one in Manhattan, but Havana Central does it up right.
Up until Red Rooster showed up a little while ago, Chez Lucienne was the designated elegant eats spot in my hood, and their burger is the best burger in lower Harlem/Morningside Heights I've found to date.
This small tea shop in Morningside Heights has a long list of flavors and boba that are consistently soft and chewy. Ginger, oolong, and passion fruit green are all good choices. But my favorite tea might be taro, and not just because it's a pretty light purple color.
Havana Central took over the old West End space in Morningside Heights right by Columbia University a few years ago, and it was a nice change. No longer a dark, dingy space with a sticky-floored music venue in the darkest corner in the back, it's now an open (if dimly lit), friendly joint with nice energy, great street-side seating, and a decent lunch and dinner menu to boot. They've got three locations around the city, but only the Upper West Side and Union Square locations offer a special, egg-heavy brunch menu on Sundays.
Growing up in the West Harlem/Morningside Heights neighborhood, I really wanted to love Community Food & Juice when it first opened. It's got a great vibe, a tasty looking menu (pork belly, beets, market salads, lentils, all that good stuff), and a nice location to boot. The only problem: Aside from an excellent matzoh ball soup ($8), the food isn't worth the price. All of it looks pretty, but beauty doesn't run deep.
Koronet Pizza's jumbo slices are the size of your head. Seriously. Check me out above. But if you live in Morningside Heights or attend(ed) Columbia University, you already knew this. The pizzeria is locally famous among hungry bargain-hunters looking to fill up on the cheap and, because it's open late, among sloshed students hoping to soak up some of the night's alcohol.
You can't get a better deal than the Veggie Sandwich ($3.50). Creamy pieces of grilled eggplant are topped with bright pink pickled beats and chunks of fried cauliflower.
If there's one thing Iris Cafe's Rachel Graville knows her way around, it's a boiled egg on bread. So when it was announced she'd be curating the upscale student lunch program for the new Joe Cafe at Columbia University, this was good news to all uptown stomachs.