Aug

29

ZagatBwog

Written by

Bwog’s very own Frank Bruni, Michael Snyder, dishes (see what I did

there?) about Morningside Height’s buffet (and here?) of restaurants

and markets.


hhTom’s

The famous Seinfeld spot is “the quintessential diner,” replete with

“mediocre food” unfriendly service, and plastic-upholstered banquettes.  Steer clear of the “questionable breakfast foods” and go straight for the milkshakes.  Hint: Tom’s is home to “every Columbia student’s favorite secret menu item.” Don’t worry. It never stays secret long.

Deluxe

The “go-to place” for a “great brunch” and the “best burgers on Broadway” also makes “a mean steak sandwich” and “the best cobb salad around” in a bowl the size of your kitchen sink.  For comfort food, try mac and cheese that “puts John Jay to shame.”

Milano

“A Columbia student’s best friend,” this gourmet food market is “a second home” for “Columbians without meal plans” and anyone sick of fried grease at Campus eateries.  The “salads with endless toppings for only $8” are the best healthy steal around, and the made-to-order sandwiches are “anything and everything you’ve ever wanted in a

sandwich.”

Le Monde

Another “good brunch” choice with “great open-air seating,” Le Monde is about as close as you can get to real French food in Morningside. Too bad dinner is “over-priced and underwhelming.”  “Addictive fries, delicious omelets, and decent pastries” make Le Monde a good mid-morning or “post-dinner” stop, especially if you want a more “refined setting” than you’ll find at most Morningside joints.

Roti Roll

A “perfect 24-hour” spot for the drunken walk back from 1020.  The

brief menu of dosas ensures that whatever you mumble in your “drunken stupor” won’t be met with any big surprises. (Don’t try this at Taqueria)

Mill Korean

It’s “the only place for Korean in Morningside” so expect passable bibim bab and other favorites.  You might not be “blown away” but if it’s a “kim chi fix” you’re after, this may be “your only shot within walking distance.”

Nussbaum & Wu

The “black awning with the funny name” marks the spot for  “the best bagels in Morningside,” or “the only bagels in Morningside” outside the cafeterias and the “equally greasy Pinnacle.” Come here for your “lox spread on a pumpernickel bagel” or any other “pseudo-gourmet bagel combination.”  Though Nussbaum also sells “salads, sandwiches, quiche, etc,” for anything other than bagels you’d better “stick to

Milano across the street.”

Ollie’s

“Columbia Cottage isn’t that far away.”

Swish

For “acceptable pan-Asian fare” come to Swish.  “Less greasy than your average Chinese place” Swish was, until recently, “the only place for Pad Thai between 110th and 125th streets.”  Chances are “you’ll end up here more often than you might like.” The food might be “pretty innocuous,” but you could do a whole lot worse than “the $8 lunch-box special.”

Starbucks

“No surprises here.  Just your typical Starbucks.”  For espresso drinks, the Morningside outpost of the “ubiquitous coffee house” between 114th and 115th streets is a fine choice.  For coffee beans, teas, and more, “just go to Oren’s.”

Oren’s

“A lack of comfortable seating” hampers this branch of “the local coffee chain,” but Oren’s still “roasts the best coffee around.” You’ll find a “broad variety of roasts and loose teas,” some of which are vertically integrated “from the plantation to your coffee maker.” Whether you’re a “do-gooder, organic, fair trade type,” or just an “average cup o’ Joe drinker,” Oren’s is the place for you.

Barnard Cafeteria

You’ll probably agree that Barnard’s cafeteria is “so much better than John Jay” for a time.  Then you’ll realize that’s it’s really only “less bad.”  For a slice of “decent pizza” or some “legitimate vegetarian options,” this is the place (at least if you’re on a meal

plan.)  By mid-year, you’ll be “sick of the food, the walk, and the mean staff,” and Milano will seem more attractive every day.

JJs

“Try to resist.”  You won’t be able to, but it’s worth a shot.  If you regularly crave “fried bar-foods, Pepperidge Farm, and cereal,” JJ’s Place will be your “second home” on weeknights.  But beware: “this is where they invented the term ‘Freshman 15.’ ”

John Jay

For anything other than “the satisfying daily brunch,” John Jay is best avoided.  Dinner here, though “inevitable,” consists primarily of “all your requisite food groups” miraculously imbued with “everyone’s favorite flavor: grease!”  For a mid-morning breakfast craving, though, “John Jay has the best waffles and omelets your meal-plan can buy.”

Ferris Booth

Like every other campus place, Ferris Booth will seem “a whole lot better than John Jay” for a while.  Then one night you’ll be eating

“your fifth bowl of fried rice in a week” and you’ll realize it is—like everything else at Ferris Booth—”cold, salty, and boring.” But then again, “salt’s better than grease.  Isn’t it?”

Max SoHa

Considered by many to be “the best restaurant in Morningside,” Max SoHa is a charming neighborhood Italian.  The “cute, candlelit room” is the perfect setting for “fantastic  homestyle Italian” at “reasonable prices—especially the pastas.”  The handful of tiny tables fill up fast, and the no reservations policy can make it “difficult to snag a seat.”

Kitchenette

“Better than Deluxe and John Jay,” Kithcnette is home to “the most decadent brunch around.”  Country style “eggs, waffles, pancakes, and anything else you could ask for” are made on the “cutesy, tea-party-ish” premises.  Prepare for a wait, though, because, true to it’s name, Kitchenette’s dainty proportions make one of the

much-coveted weekend brunch seats a hot commodity.

Max Café

The cutest coffee shop that “no one goes to,” this small spinoff of Max SoHa up the block serves “decent coffee, drinks, and dessert” in a “romantically lit room with low sofas and tables.”  In other words, this is “exactly the place you’d want for a relaxed cup of mid-week evening coffee.”  If only you had time for a mid-week evening coffee on 122nd Street.  Oh, well.  Maybe next year.

Sezz Medi

“That other Italian place” on Amsterdam is “the only real competition for Max SoHa.”  Larger than it’s up-the-street neighbor, Sezz Medi specializes in “great brick-oven pizzas” and over-priced—though delicious—salads.  For many Morningside restaurant rovers, “this is

the place to go.” (If you can’t get into Max SoHa, that is.)

Massawa

“The Ethiopian place that isn’t Awash” also isn’t as good. If it’s injera you’re after, take the walk to 107th Street.

Awash

Perhaps “the most exotic food in the neighborhood,” Awash is also your best bet for the kind of Ethiopian food your grandmother used to cook back in Scarsdale.  Rolls of “marvelously spongy injera” and “carefully spiced meats and vegetables” more than compensate for the “strange, cheesy décor.”  Though “prices seem a bit high” at first

glance, keep in mind that “one entrée is enough for two people.”  Only “go with your cleanest friends” because you’ll be eating exclusively with your hands.

Hungarian Pastry Shop

The best place for “reading and endless coffee,” the Hungarian is a mecca for “earnest intellectuals of all stripes.”  Thankfully, the “coffee refills are free,” the ambience is “cozy” and you will never be asked to leave.  So sit back, relax, and “enjoy your Kant and coffee.”

Columbia Cottage

Good-bad Chinese food anyone?  This is the place for your “everyday, gooey, sloppy Chinese food.”  Stick to the most basic menu items—”think sesame chicken and lo mein”—and you won’t be disappointed.  And did I mention the “free half-carafe of terrible boxed wine with every entrée”?  Come hungry.  Leave drunk.  The makings of a perfect night.

Koronet’s

14-inch slices of pizza are a dream for “anyone who’s ever had the drunk munchies.”  The pizza may be “greasy,” but “the price can’t be beat.”  A staple of “many a drunken 1020 walk,” Koronet’s is open 24/7

to suit “your every inebriated need.”

Tasti-D

The first thing to know about Tasti-D is that “it’s not really ice cream.”  “Don’t expect Ben & Jerry’s” from the low-cal, no-fat frozen treat; do expect “convenience and economy.”  The Lerner locale couldn’t be more central and they accept dining dollars.  “You’ll learn to love the chemicals” with every swipe of your ID.

M2M

“Your South Korean roommate will always have an M2M bag” full of fun and occasionally “frightening” snacks from this pan-Asian market.  No worries—for the less adventurous palate, M2M is “your best bet for a quick burger.”

Artopolis

It’s a Greek bakery!  It’s a creperie!  It’s a gelateria!  No, it’s Artopolis!  “All your prayers are answered” at this fresh-faced Amsterdam café.  “Crepes, gelato, and baklava in one place—it’s a dream come true” for anyone craving that elusive taste “Mediterranean relaxation” here in Morningside.

Lion’s Head

“Wings.  Beers.  It’s that kind of place.”  But what it does, it does well.  “Take a break from the crowds at 1020 and the Heights” for a drink and some bar bites.  When you wake up the next morning with neither a headache nor a dull ringing in your ears, you’ll be glad you did.

Taqueria

“Open your mouth and shut your eyes and you’ll be in for a big surprise” at Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana, where “three dollars and a sense of adventure” will get you a long way.  Tacos in “exotic flavors” (think tongue, ear, tripe) are surprisingly delicious and “well worth the risk.”  After all, “three bucks isn’t much to pay for

bragging rights to having eaten ear.”

The Heights

At this “Broadway mainstay” happy hour is the best time, when “$4 can buy you a margarita or a pint of beer.”  Weekday afternoons are “reasonably quiet” compared to the “crazy weekend nights.”  The bar food is “little more than passable” no matter what anyone tells you, but the nachos are pretty decent and “after three margaritas at 5

o’clock, who really cares anyway?”

Pinnacle

Yes, it is 24-hour.  Otherwise, “why bother?”  Other than the “okay white pizza,” Pinnacles “does nothing that other places don’t do better.”

Morton Williams

Once the only 24-hour grocery in close proximity, Morton Williams is still “cramped with a terrible selection.”  Good for “a late night beer run and a stick of deodorant.”  For anything else, go to 110th street.

WestSide Market

“Heaven on earth” for any Morningside cook, West Side Market is “everything Morton Williams is not and so much more!”  Everything you could want in a grocery store, and “it sure beats the walk to Fairway.”

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50 Comments

  1. $8 salads?

    Milano's raised prices?! Or are you rounding up decimal places? Answer me man.

    PS they're frankies, not dosas. Jeez.

  2. 411  

    Muffins- Go to Samad's Gourmet

    Pizza- Sal and Carmine on 102 is the only acceptable answer

    Sandwich- I preach the gospel of Subsconscious

    godspeed

  3. way off base

    dude, this is way off target. i couldn't be bothered to read past ollie's, but here's the real take-away.

    deluxe "blows," "has a small menu" full of "crap I don't want"

    milano = getting "robbed blind." jacking the price of a sandwich doesn't make it better. stick to the spicy special at the crack deli on 109 and Am, or hamdel if you can't brave the 7 blocks south.

    nussbaum is your go-to spot. the bagels are expensive for, um, bagels, but they really hit the spot on a sunday morning, especially with a little bacon, egg, and cheese between and you're not gonna do any better around here.

    so, kids, here's the lesson: nussbaum and crack deli. that's you're bread and butter.

    • meh

      nussbaum's just as much of a robbery as milano. more importantly, bwog, i think this proves people can have widely different opinions on this stuff. maybe next time make these a little less biased...or at least don't use the stupid distracting quotes.

  4. what about

    famous deli? 24-hour delivery (as long as your order is more than 10 dollars) = awesome.

  5. white pizza?  

    no, no, no, you go to pinnacle for the meat slice!

  6. ...  

    Did we forget the hideousness that is strokos??? NOTHING there is good. as someone who lived in ruggles, and all-to-often would have to be the victim of convenience and grab a bite from strokos before clas, let me just say-UGH. pastries have been there since the late '90's, hot food is stale, and too salty to overcompensate (and NEVER fully cooked). Even the yogurt and fruit is ALWAYS disgusting. Walk the walk to hamdel, i repeat, WALK THE BLOCK TO HAMDEL.

    p.s. good call on crack deli...though i wish we could find another name-nice little spot, and you can buy a COLD two-liter of soda!!!

    p.p.s. people who say the salads are good at strokos, please. salads are not that hard, and even then, their toppings are always contaminated with other toppings. peas and cranberries, mixed? Step your game up, strokos, artopolis is right next door.

  7. um no

    Get rid of those quotation marks. Ugh.

  8. okay

    Here's the truth:
    Nussbaum and Strokos are overrated and way overpriced. You get a small tasteless coffee at Nussbaum when Oren's is better/cheaper and Hungarian's is endless. Then you add Deluxe to the mix...M2M's burger w. fries is better than Deluxe's. Meanwhile I gotta admit Deluxe has the best mac/cheese on b'way. But HAMILTON DELI is the only good place to go if you're not a member of the ruling class.

  9. bagels

    there's really only one answer for bagels: absolute bagels on 108th and broadway.

    but nussbaum is closer for most, and so that's regrettably the only spot people know.

  10. 09  

    Nussbaum has great bagels w/ lox. M2M has a solid spicy chicken wrap. 109 Deli's spicy special is fantastic for a late-night snack if you're in the area. I'd like to read a review of Hamilton Deli sandwiches.

  11. one good thing

    at Strokos: Chicken Quesadilla. 6.00 or so? Not awful.

  12. phil  

    Neither Koronets nor Roti Roll is open 24/7. Get your facts right.

  13. Strokos  

    Has really fantastic Mango juice...I would go just for that.

  14. al key  

    Can anyone recommend a cheap liquor store. I've been scouting out some places in Harlem (specifically, on Amsterdam just past 125th) as well as the C-Town but was unimpressed.

  15. Mimi

    Ok - so someone has to share.. what's the secret menu item at Tom's?

  16. Bottom line

    In my opinion at least.

    Oren's has fantastic coffee that is better than Nussbaum's and cheaper than Starbuck's (duh), plus they are staffed by overwhelmingly nicer people than both combined plus Hungarian's, who play good music. It also has terrific pastries brought fresh from downtown locations like Balthazar and LES Donut Plant every morning, and all you have to do is get up earlier enough to have your pick of the lot.

    Pisticci (which I can't believe wasn't even mentioned) on La Salle between Claremont Ave and Broadway (for newbies, La Salle is the equivalent of 124th street where 124th street doesn't exist) is probably the best Italian in the neighborhod that's the cheapest for what it is. They seem to use the freshest ingredients there, have friendly, exuberant service (at least when I've been there), and twice as much room since expanding (which means you won't have to wait so long for a table, and can now wait at a real bar area or in a comfy armoire) plus live music at least two nights a week.

    Zoma on 114th and 8th Ave (aka Frederick Douglass, again for froshies) is a new addition to the extended neighborhood that has already been reviewed in the "$25 and under" section of the times. It serves Ethiopean far better than Awash or that other one near Plimpton whose name I can't remember. The decor and cocktails are also terrific, and you'll get bonus points for taking someone a bit out of their comfort zone.

    Last but not least, DINOSAUR BARBEQUE on 131st under Riverside Drive (right behind Fairway). How COULD you possibly forget this one? It's consistently voted the best barbeque in the city AND it's right at the North end of our neighborhood/campus (or smack dab in the middle of Manhattanville, depending on which way you look at it). Delivery is a bit shoddy, but I heard they just extended it to all points North of 116th, otherwise, go there and wait for a table (which can be quite a wait) or eat at the bar with the same menu.

    Signing off...

    • Dino BBQ  

      Dino BBQ is very very far from the best in the city. and this still isn't a very good 'cue town. If you like the good stuff go to Hill Country (flatiron district).

      Ditto Pisticci - overpriced, meh. Max is better but really if you want Italian why not head to some place good - pick up TONY for a listing of the best - Lupa isn't that much more expensive than Pisticci.

      • Yup

        Looks like somebody's been reading Eater ;)

        I agree, but at the same time, this was meant to be a guide of places within walkable distance of campus. If they had wanted to list the best of the best for all those students who really aren't going to leave campus anyway, they would have just included all five boroughs, along with links to citysearch and nymag "best of" sections.

        • what is walkable  

          and what is good? this is what is walkable, but I think it is false advertising to suggest that either Dino or Pisticci are worth even the short (non public transport) walk.

          p.s. tho I do read Eater (and Bwog) I visited Lupa long before either existed

  17. uh.....

    Fairway? 125th st is pretty damn close, and it competes pretty seriously with West Side on all fronts.

  18. Anonymous

    Symposium on 113th for Greek food.

  19. name  

    what the "hell" is up with the "quotation marks?" learn to write.

  20. m2m  

    for a QUICK burger?!?! Are you kidding?? It takes FOREVER to get something there.

  21. i think

    we need to issue a Caveat Emptor for m2m. everything you buy there will have a bizarre asian flair to it. for example, the french fries are more like tempura fries. very odd. and in place of spanish rice in burritos/fajitas, it's sticky asian rice. and the heros are really hit or miss. one day they might be great, the next day they make me gag. i STRONGLY prefer ham del.

    thoughts, guys?

  22. 109 deli  

    Spicy Specials and Cheesesteaks from 109 deli. Also, Deluxe is wack shit. So is Artopolis.

    • absolutely

      how could bwog forget to review the 109 deli? in addition to the spicy special, you can also get Boar's Head (read: good quality) meat and cheese on a hero for 3.50. Definitely worth the walk.

  23. mlp

    I'm shocked that Symposium has been left off of this list. It's got great food, atmosphere, and service. In my opinion, it's the best place to take your family when they visit Morningside. Also, even though it's not spectacular, Amir's is always good for a reasonably priced dinner.

    As a displaced southerner who knows BBQ, I throw my support behind Dinosaur. Absolutely delicious.

  24. i've got to

    disagree about Amir's. The only good thing I've had there is the stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh) which come from a can. Venture midtown for good middle eastern food.

  25. No!

    The mac n cheese at Deluxe is bad! It has no crust, it's just soupy and really bland mac n cheese that can't be fixed with any amount of pepper. In general, the food isn't terrible at Deluxe, but they often get your order wrong and you will never get your water refilled.

  26. hamdel

    will have your sandwiches ready at the register before you are there. and believe me, you can easily get through a VIP gold card a semester

  27. IMO

    I think the rampant use of quotes is a parody of Zagat which "does just that."

    Best Mac and Cheese — Kitchenette hands down.

    M2M is fantastic for super-cheap bento boxes, the amazing spicy chicken wrap, wasabi peas, and Pocky.

    Ham Del makes the best burgers with the oddest names. Mmmmm Mona Lisa. Their salads are crap though. Deluxe burgers are pretty good too.

    The Spicy Special from the 109th St. deli is the best drunk food ever, though that place would probably freak you out if you were high.

    Subconscious has better, cheaper salads than Milano (which is only good for getting 40s.)

    Toast (La Salle and Broadway) has the best brunch in the neighborhood, in my opinion. Definitely worth the walk.

    Pasticci has fantastic Italian food though it's a little more expensive.

    The best coffee ON CAMPUS is in IAB -- they make Illy, and it kind of rocks. The WORST coffee is Cafe 212. It's foul! Though 212 has some kick-ass pastries.

    JJ's place -- the shakes are pretty tasty and reasonably healthy, except when combined with chicken fingers. (mmmmm)

    The best things at Pinnacle are the baked Ziti pizza (delish!), the chicken parm (cheap!) and the bagels, which are surprisingly good. They also have super-cheap iced coffee.

    I don't understand how on earth anyone manages to study at Hungarian. Blech. Cafe Fresh (at 122nd) is a much less pretentious atmosphere and a fairly well-kept secret.

    Indian food in the neighborhood sucks. Period.

    West Side Market is truly amazing.

    Chipotle gives me the shits like whoa.

    Oh and avoid Duane Reade at all costs. They suck to an amazing degree. It's worth the extra block to Rite Aid.

  28. maybe i'm dumb

    but what is the tom's secret menu item?

  29. Rudie

    Toast and Indus Valley rule all. Roti roll and Amir are nice. I'll miss the food more than anything, hands down.

  30. I graduated...

    ...in the spring...and I have no idea what on earth Tom's secret menu item is. Cheese fries?

  31. GLAD WE CAN AGREE

    CLEARLY 109 DELI IS THE ONLY PLACE WE CAN AGREE ON. SPICY SPECIAL IS MY LIFEBLOOD. SOBER and DRUNK.

  32. Zach

    * Absolute Bagels
    * Hungarian
    * Koronet
    * Indus Valley
    * Hammy's
    * Ollie's
    * Swish

    All other restaurants are irrelevant or overpriced. Ollie's is bad, but it doesn't matter. As long as you don't shake your order up too much, you'll hit a groove.

    Max's is great but we're all too poor. Deluxe is a steaming pile of garbage.

    Also, no love for Tomo?

  33. Zach 2

    AND V&T continues to languish in forty years of obscurity.

  34. The Secretkeeper

    The secret menu item is, I believe, the Broadway Shake, a delicious blend of coffee and vanilla ice creams.

  35. daniella

    okay, I really like west side market, especially in light of my other options, but heaven on earth? their produce is pretty shady sometimes.

  36. Clearly  

    You Ham-Del lovers don't know what a real sandwich is. They don't put any damn meat into the sandwich! When I order a $5+ sandwich, I don't want it to be 75% lettuce and tomato. Milano actually makes a real sandwich, but they gouge the crap out of you for it.

    Apple Tree sandwiches are hit-and-miss, and M2M has fantastic burgers, cheese steaks, and wraps. Never go to Pinnacle unless your life depends on it.

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