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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!

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Brian S

        Ah yeah, there's an absolutely TINY Mexican place in the 90s that makes great food. Red sign. I forget the name but its microscopic and easy to pass. I passed it 3 times when first looking for it.

      2. Max Soha

        Max Soha
        1274 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

        2 Replies
        1. re: megaepicure

          BTW Max Soho that you've linked to is on 45th and Broadway, not really a 15 minute walk from 116th! And not really worth the trip IMO haha.

        2. 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.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ballulah

            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.

          2. 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

            2 Replies
            1. re: olia

              i really enjoy cafe swish! i don't remember the exact address, but i know it's somewhere around 115th/amsterdam. it's 'asian-fusion' (with a heavy thai influence). it's reasonably-priced and very delicious.

              1. re: bosox

                Caffe Swish is on Broadway between 115th and 116th.

              1. re: kelea

                I have to dissent on the Dino; the Manhattan branch isn't up to par with the original in Syracuse. The Terrace is always good and the view can't be matched.

                1. re: brendastarlet

                  Oh! I had forgotten about Terrace in the Sky! That is a good high end option if you want something very fancy and elegant. It's on 119th and Morningside, at the top of the Butler apartment building.

                  Terrace in the Sky
                  400 West 119th Street, New York, NY 10027

                  1. re: ballulah

                    I have been told Dino in the city is not up to par with Syracuse, which wouldn't surprise me. But seeing that I haven't been up to Syracuse and with nothing to compare it to, I say it pretty damn delicious

                    I was extremely disappointed with Terrace in the Sky. The view is amazing but I guess the whole atmosphere just didn't cut it for the. The old-fashion china and the even older wait-staff. The food was alright but didn't impress me one bit.

                    1. re: kelea

                      I've grown to like Dinosaur BBQ very much. It's not perfect but it's often pretty good. More than anything else on the menu, the bbq wings are sublime. Total paragons of sticky smoky sweet chicken parts.

              2. rack and soul is a good spot for bbq.

                1. Coming from a Columbia alum: Max Soha on Amsterdam, or Dinosaur BBQ in the heart of harlem.

                  Dru's NYC Eats

                  1. mama mexico

                    Mama Mexico
                    2672 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                    1. In addition to all the great places already mentioned, you might check out Henry's and Metisse, both on Broadway. I often opt for the bibimbop at Mill Korean for lunch. Kitchenette is always excellent, and its about a ten minute walk from campus, right next to Max. I don't think Alouette (a bit farther down on Broadway) is open for lunch, but its a good dinner option in the neighborhood at any rate. Turkuaz (also a bit of a walk) has an excellent lunch.

                      1. Do you consider 85th & Columbus within a 15 minute walk?
                        If so, you might want to try the wonderful Turkish restaurant Zeytin.

                        1. There's an Italian place tucked away on La Salle between Broadway and Claremont called Pasticci that is favored by friends, though it's been a long time since I've been.

                          For the best fried chicken ever, go uptown on Broadway, turn right at 125th and get some fried chicken from Lincoln Fried Chicken. Their fries are good, too. Just skip the roll. Two pieces with fries will set you back about $4.

                          Across the street from Lincoln Fried Chicken is a newish fried seafood place (I think Famous Seafood is the name) though i've only been once and thought it a bit too salty, things were fresh and of good quality.

                          An even newer place is the place called Tapas (where KFC used to be) which I think is an addition, or a more glamorous cousin next door neighbor of Floridita, but I'm not very sure. In fact, I'm not sure if it's officially opened, yet. Anyone?

                          On the westside of Broadway, Toast, between Tiemann Place and La Salle has tasty burgers last time I tried, but it's been a long time, so you'll have to take a chance. I vaguely remember good beer selection, but again, I'll have to let someone who's been there more recently chime in on this. (by the way, for those not familiar with the neighborhood, Tiemann place is equal to 124th street, if there were one, and La Salle = 123rd)

                          The Chinapuebla place I can't say, except that many restaurants have come and gone in that place, most recently, the Blue Angel Thai restaurant...I hope it has better luck this time.

                          You can get dessert and coffee on your way back if you walk on the westside of Broadway at Chocolat Patiserrie, a tiny place between...La Salle and 122nd street.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: HLing

                            Tonight was the perfect cold and damp weather for... shrimp & grits! I've been meaning to give Famous Seafood at 567 W 125 street off of Broadway. www.famousseafood.com
                            It was close to 10 pm when I walked into this spotlessly clean, small take out place. I wanted shrimp, but not really the ones with batters. Went with the Jumbo Buffalo Shrimp, even though it does have batter. Then asked about grits. They stop serving grits at 5 pm, but was willing to cook me some. At this point i saw that there are also steamed seafood available. When the woman said they usually serve "fish & grits" not really shrimp & grits, I decided to have them make four steamed Garlic Jump shrimp to go on the grits. I kept the order of the jumbo buffalo shrimp....Also was really torn between the coconut walnut cake and the red velvet cake, and the buttermilk coconut pie (!).

                            I knew it was going to be good when I saw the chef with the fresh shrimp in his hands..they were huge and...fresh, not frozen looking, not pre-battered...
                            The Buffalo shrimp were indeed jumbo. There were 7 pieces of huge shrimp with the texture of the tail nearing lobster. It was very spicy, too much so for me, the wimp who hasn't had much experience with buffalo wings. I taste the shrimp and grits to ease some of the heat. The shrimp here were steamed with garlic sauce, also jumbo, and meaty. So I ended up moving the firey buffalo shrimps over to the white grits, too, and there found perfect balance of spicy and the almost congee-like (excuse my Chinese-ness) grits that made for a perfect late night dinner.
                            I was way too full to really enjoy the coconut walnut cake that the woman recommended. Only had a bite to know how moist it is. Tomorrow I will be able to fully appreciate that cake.

                            At first it seem high to pay $10, 11 dollar for 7 shrimp, but when it came, I realized that in other full-fledge restaurants, the same amount and quality had cost about $19 forver (don't know what it is now), so this was a good deal. There's also snow crab legs, dungeness crabs, and king crabs by 1 lb on the menu ranging from $13.50 to $19, as well as Maryland Blue Crabs by the dozen when in season.

                            The menu says they're open 24 hours from Thursday to Saturday, so there are breakfast specials Friday- Sunday from 5 am to 10 am. Other days they are opened 11 am to midnight, except for sunday closing at 8 PM. It's nice to know where to get fresh food past 10 pm around this neighborhood. I hope they'll still make grits for me past 5 pm next time!

                            1. re: HLing

                              HLing, my mouth is watering! Thanks for the review. I have often walked by on my way home from the Citerella on 125th, but never paid much attention. I will next time!

                              To the OP - I live in the nabe, and my favorite lunch in the area is a croque monsieur at Le Monde, on 113th and Broadway. I also enjoy lunch at the Thai Market mentioned above - they have a nice lunch special - 108th and Amsterdam. The lunch menu at Community Food & Juice looks interesting, but I have only had brunch there - a good brunch, though. Pisticci, mentioned by HLing, has gone downhill in my opinion. I used to love it, now I think it's just OK - or maybe I was there on an off night recently.

                              I also agree with everything Ballulah says above.

                              Let us know where you end up!

                          2. It's been a while since I've been in that area but last time I was a few friends and I had lunch at this hole in the wall called Amir's Falafel Lebanese Kitchen. The place was definitely packed when I was there for lunch and the food was very good in my opinion.
                            I'm pretty sure from 116th and broadway it's less than 15minutes, being that it's between 113th and 114th on broadway.