A very difficult challenge / request for the hounds
If you want to get the BEST lunch you can, within 15 minute walk of Columbia campus (let's say 116th and Broadway), where would you go? Price and cuisine is absolutely no object, just the best lunch, period.
I know, it's a complete culinary wasteland here. But please help!
Actually Harlem has great stuff. I'll edit this post and paste a few places in once I finish this essay. You'll have to descend from Morningside Park though. Actually, the lower Broadway Malecon is very close. If you didn't mind a subway than Washington Heights is available in all its glory.
I think that zone is a much better culinary playground than ei. financial districts or midtown btw. Or upper East even.
When I saw "very difficult challenge" of course I clicked and read your post. Walking south on the west side of Broadway you'll pass a whole bunch of restaurants between 100 and 116. I haven't tried any of them but they all look interesting. North on Broadway is Terrace, www.terraceinthesky.com and also a Mexican-Chinese place, www.chinadepuebla.com -- neither of which Ive tried.
Taqueria y Fonda on Amsterdam and 108th. It's some of the best REAL Mexican food in the city, it's cheap, fresh and quick. Jerusalem Falafel on Broadway and 105th is one of NYC's best falafel joints. Silver Moon Bakery on 105th and Broadway, lots of assemble-yourself lunch options and light cafe fare, and my god, the bread is amazing. Not sure it's open for lunch, but A on 107th and Columbus is a fantastic little hole in the wall restaurant. Dinosaur BBQ under the overpass near Fairway would be a good choice as well.
I haven't tried it myself, but I have heard really really good things about the new-ish Thai place on Amsterdam and 107/108/109, not sure which cross street, or the name, but I passed it recently and you can't miss it. It's on the west side of the street.
And call me crazy, but Indian Cafe on 107th and Broadway has long been one of my favorite Indian restaurants. But ONLY if you stick to the specials. The regular menu is blah, but the specials were always delicious. My standard order is whatever special pakora is available and whatever lamb curry special is featured that day.
The Thai place is called Thai Market. Given how slickly it pays homage to hawker stalls I was hoping for a more unique menu. As it is they seem to have only a few non-standard dishes. My Pad Kee Mao was nothing special, and a small serving for the price. I'd go back to sample more widely, but as the NY Magazine review said, Queens it ain't.
the menu and atmosphere in Community Food and Juice (BWY btwen 112-113) look promising (albeit more expensive than other neighb. restaurants, but on par with some like le monde, which i don't like at all)
check out this report