Betsy Ladyzhets is a quality sandwich.
When I was a freshman, there were three main options for late-night food. You could schlep to Koronets for a slice of pizza as big as your face. You could try your luck (and your bowels) at one of the campus halal carts. Or you could cross Amsterdam, head downstairs, and join the line at HamDel.
HamDel (short for Hamilton Deli) is located at 116th Street and Amsterdam, right next to Arts and Crafts – and right next to John Jay, the LLC, EC, Wien, and probably several other dorms that I’m forgetting. This deli has the best sandwiches in Morningside Heights, hands down. Just one bite of the Betsy (laden with crispy chicken, cheddar cheese, and avocado) is a world of salty, greasy bliss. And as though that isn’t enough, HamDel also boasts a salad counter, prepared sushi and desserts, and a huge array of snacks, including this writer’s favorite brand of potato chips.
A couple of years ago, HamDel at 3 am on a Friday night would look like the EC lobby on Halloween. Drunk students coming from parties around campus would perch on the cold metal railing of that little staircase, crowd into a loose line behind that basement counter, and bring those huge, greasy sandwiches to Low Steps. The Lewinsky and the Godfather were as ubiquitous as Koronets slices and lamb over rice.
And yet, when I mentioned this deli at last weekend’s Bwog meeting, most of the first-years in the room turned to me with confused stares. HamDel? they asked. Is that some kind of musical-related Ferris promotion?
What happened? How did this once great late-night spot turn to a campus cobweb? There’s only one possible explanation: JJ’s extended its hours.
In fall 2017, JJ’s Place stopped closing at 1 am, instead staying open all night. This was a great move for students who now could just use a swipe for late-night food instead of going off campus to pay for it. But when fries and mozz sticks are available in the very basement of a freshman dorm, who’s venturing across Amsterdam to buy it at HamDel? This boon for Columbia Dining is our favorite deli’s downfall.
For evidence, look no further than HamDel’s hours. The deli used to stay open late at night—I was usually too far gone when I visited to take note of exact hours, but it must have been serving those sandwiches until 3 or 4 am. Now, however, HamDel closes at 10 pm every night… except for Sundays, when it closes at 9 pm.
My friends, this is a tragedy in the making. We cannot allow HamDel to go the way of Nussbaum & Wu, Bernheim & Schwartz, Ollies, and so many others. Those sandwiches are too good to die. And so, I implore you: the next time you want something greasy and delicious for lunch, cross Amsterdam and get a HamDel sandwich. With luck, we might even win those late night hours back someday.
absolutely fine indeed via HamDel’s website