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dining alone near Columbia U -- suggestions?

Hound visiting from Boston, looking for a good meal near Columbia University. I'll be alone so I'd like to find a place where I can eat at the bar.

Open to all cuisines, and cost is not much of a concern. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  1. I am a Columbia alum, here are a few ideas:

    Some friends of mine like Regional, around 100th St. I havent been there though

    Max Soho on 121st and Amsterdam is a good small italian restaurant, dont think they have bar seating.

    The Mill Korean is decent and right near campus, around 114th street.

    Avoid Tomo Sushi.

    If you are willing to go below 90th street thats a whole other story...

    1. Community Food and Juice should be worth a go (though perhaps a bit spendy). it recently opened at 112th and bway. i think you could sit at the bar.


      i second the mill for good korean in that neighborhood. the pizza place on the same block as max soha has really good pizzas (actually, that whole block has several very good restaurants).

      1 Reply
      1. re: aahnnt

        I had lunch yesterday at Community Food. There was a wait for a table and a long wait for food once we'd ordered. The food, though, was delicious. And for a solo diner, the communal table might be a good option.

        The Mill, of course, is one of comparatively few Koren restaurants serving egg creams.

      2. If you're a jazz fan, you can sit at the bar at Smoke on Broadway @ 106th. The food is surprisingly good there and being alone, you'll have a great show as entertainment. Just call ahead to find out when the sets start becuase it's small and can fill up quickly.

        I agree with the Max Soha recommendation, as the food is really tasty and inexpensive. They do have a bar, although I'm not sure if they serve food there.

        1. Sezz Medi, Amsterdam & 122nd, has a comfortable bar that lots of solo diners eat at. http://www.sezzmedi.com

          1. I, too, really like Community Food and Juice. If you're alone, you might consider sitting at the bar which is a little more social than sitting alone at a table.

            7 Replies
            1. re: rothsteg

              some of these do not have bars but it's never a problem to eat alone. everyone does.

              try toast on broadway and w105th. there's one a bit further north as well. this may be your best bet.

              i will very strongly recommend mill korean as well. it's not the best korean food you can get anywhere but it definitely suffices. can definitely eat alone here.

              try pisticci on lasalle. really great italian food. very small restuarant.

              stay away from le monde no matter what.

              w107 is very good. can definitely eat alone. it is on brdwy and, obviously, w107.

              symposium is on W113 bet. broadway and amsterdam. greek food. very low key. can definitely eat alone. it's more like a homey, diner style restaurant with booths and some tables. great service.

              thai market - amsterdam and w107.

              meridiana - broadway and w105

              la rural - w97 and amsterdam. brand new south american/steakhouse

              indus valley - w100 and broadway

              flor de mayo - broadway and w100

              please let us know what winds up working for you. this site may also help for menus, reviews, locations: http://menupages.com/restaurants.asp?...

              1. re: nativeNYer

                I really appreciate all the ideas. Right now I'm leaning toward Smoke but I will report back on where I ended up.

                1. re: triple creme

                  As it turns out, dinner was catered after my meeting both nights, so I never had a chance to try any of the restaurants suggested here. However I did hit smoke after dinner each night and really enjoyed. Thanks again for all the recs.

                  1. re: triple creme

                    thnx for reporting back!! you'll have to return soon to try the other places!

                2. re: nativeNYer

                  Can you recommend any dishes at Mill Korean? I've been there a couple of times and have really been underwhelmed. I would give it another shot though. Thanks.

                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    sure. do you like fish, beef, poultry. noodles? spicy foods? lots of veggies? i'd be happy to recommend some dishes. I typically get the bulgogi hot stone pot with an egg. They bring it in a piping hot pot and you then need to cook the egg and slam down the rice against the pot to make it crunchy. YUM! they also give you great hot sauce to toss on as you are stirring things around. i also love the spicy rice cakes - duk buk kee which is street food in korea. the less adventurous usually have the "bulgogi" cooked in the kitchen which is beef served with some onions on an iron skillet. they serve it with lettuce leafs , white rice and sauce on the side. you then slip the meat into the lettuce leaf, toss some rice in with the sauce and you roll it up and eat in, korean taco style.

                    1. re: nativeNYer

                      Thank you! I usually have their casserole dishes. Looks like I should branch out a bit and will look into your suggestions.

              2. What about food around the medical center (Washington Heights neighborhood)? I'm going to be living and working in the area this fall and I'm looking for affordable lunch and dinner spots.

                11 Replies
                1. re: inmybackpages

                  nativeNYer knows the dining options right around the Medical Center a bit better than I do, I'm just a little further north. You really can't beat the Latin triumverate all within a couple of blocks of each other between 175th and 177h on Broadway...Mambi ($3 Cuban sandwiches), El Malecon (signature rotisserie chicken) and El Conde (Dominican steakhouse). There's El Presidente on 166th and Tipico and La Floridita just a little north of the "triumverate" but they are all kind of on a par with each other. People argue over which serves the better Cuban, El Presidente or Mambi, but I like Mambi because it's 10 blocks closer to my house. Try them both and let us know.

                  There are supposedly great new-ish Mexican and Korean spots a little south of 168th, but they are outside my delivery catchment so I haven't tried them yet.

                  For somewhat higher end dining in the area, trek up to 187th for excellent sushi at Next Door.

                  Lots of great little Dominican bakeries. And look for the ladies on the streets with coolers on wheels, they often have delicious homemade tamales and empanadas.

                  To the OP, my favorite dining option near Columbia is Taqueria y Fonda on Amsterdam between 107th and 108th. I had an unearthly attachment to this little Mexican taco joint, and thought I might be unfairly favoring it because it's the most familiar to me. Lately I've been making an effort to try other spots recommended for tacos and other Mexican fast food, and so far NONE compare to Taqueria y Fonda. I eat alone here all the time. It's quite the opposite of fancy, but the food is excellent and the service is warm and accomodating.

                  1. re: ballulah

                    hi inmybackpages. i agree with ballulah word for word but i prefer el presidente for cuban sandwiches and noche mexicana over taqueria y fonda. however, i may be in the minority on both of those opinions

                    anyway, i had some trouble locating this link re food near CPMC but here it is:


                    i'd add vino veritas to this list but, aside from that, not too much has changed over the past year. but, a great deal has changed since i began working up there, especially in the past 5 years.

                    here are a couple more for you:

                    please report back. thnx.

                    1. re: nativeNYer

                      Thanks for the suggestions. It's going to be a couple of months before I move so I wanted to be prepared with some options during the stress of finding a place to live and moving in.

                      I'll report back when I try them, thanks!

                      1. re: inmybackpages

                        yup. i'd be doing the same thing. lol. i'll keep you posted as well.
                        good luck with the move.

                        1. re: nativeNYer

                          while we're on the topic of dining out, are there any really good grocery stores in the neighborhood? i don't really know what to expect, i live in NC right now and we have a nice selection of fresh local produce and meats. and what about ethnic grocery stores?

                          thanks for all your help!

                          1. re: inmybackpages

                            check out this link:

                            i recommend fairway on w125 and brdwy, gristides (just a general market on brdwy near W174) but the folks replying to the link above know far more than i do as i don't live in that nabe.

                            you may like westside market on the downtown campus of columbia (brdwy near W110).

                            1. re: inmybackpages

                              nativenyer linked back to a thread where I had lots to say about the grocery situation in the area. I've lived in the area for nearly 13 years, and at first glance grocery shopping seems bleak in the area. If you're adventurous it can be great.

                              Top recommendations to summarize that thread:
                              Jin's Superette on 181st and Ft Washington for excellent, well priced and convenient produce (seriously, no joke, some of the best I've seen in the entire city, and I'm ridiculously picky). The shop is TINY, and they have everything.

                              Uptown Fairway - everyone says this is on 125th, but it's actually more like 132nd-133rd, it's just that 125th is the main cross street nearby. From uptown grab the M4 bus, and get off around 133rd (bus ride will take you about 15 minutes from 168th and Ft Washington), and Fairway is a block and a half west towards the Hudson River. It is by far the best grocery store in all of Manhattan. If you have a car, they have free parking, and that's unheard of in NYC.

                              For more detail, definitely check out the thread linked to before. Lots of people (and me) go into more detail about ethnic groceries.

                              OH! On 181st and Ft Washington, next to Starbucks, is a very well stocked Russian specialty store, Moscow on the Hudson. Lots of interesting things to be had there.

                              1. re: ballulah

                                i love fairway! it's got everything, even a cold room! like a huge room where they keep all their regrigerated items. they even have huge coats taht you could wear before you step in!

                                as to korean food. i haven't had the mill, but around 164th and broadway there is a great little place called joa. they've got really tasty, fresh combos. bulgogi (marinated beef), kalbi (marinated beef short ribs), jaeyook (spicy pork), or chicken terryaki w/rice and veggies that are pretty resonably priced as well.

                                1. re: gl827

                                  did you try joa when it first opened as well as recently? my friend feels the food is generally tasteless but she hasn't returned and i never bothered. what do you think?

                                  1. re: QUD

                                    I did wind up trying Joa several months ago but wasn't impressed. I think I was missing the hot pepper paste for the beef. Not sure but I will go back and make a more concerted effort at ordering.

                                    1. re: nativeNYer

                                      i tried joa today again. the quality of the meat (bulgogi and chicken teriyaki) is really very good and it is a great value b/c the prices are reasonable and they serve generous portions. I think i've identified the reason i was less impressed the last time i tried it. i am in love with korean hot pepper paste and the sauce at the mill on W116th seems to appeal to me the most for whatever reason. at joa, the bulgogi does not come with the spicy sauce. i think the pork dish does. since i prefer beef, i ordered the bulgogi and took some of the hot pepper paste back with me. the bulgogi is perfectly tasty as is with the non spicy sauce they use. unfortunately, i do not like the spicy pepper paste they use which, to me, is critical but i have to get over my obsession with the paste and accept this place as a great neighborhood option . the food is really very good. the chicken teriyaki is outstanding. i wish they had duk bok kee... but there i go again.

                  2. One more option near Columbia: Awash on 107 and Amsterdam, some of the best Ethiopian I've had in NY. And don't miss the blackberry wine.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: maharani

                      Ate at awash once and I thought it was okay. I've never eaten Ethiopian before, but I guess I was hoping for something spicy like Indian. Is it just me or does the Indian place next door to Awash smell badly all of the time?

                      1. re: AndrewOG

                        @ AndrewOG - I think you're getting Awash and Massawa mixed up. There's no Indian place next to Awash. It's on 106th and Amsterdam, Massawa is on 121st and Amsterdam. Once upon a time Massawa was one of the only Ethiopian places in the city, I haven't eaten there in 10+ years, so it's unfair to comment on its current offerings, but I didn't think much of it back then. I've heard Awash is quite a bit better.

                        947 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

                        1239 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

                        1. re: ballulah

                          I think that you are absolutely correct. Sorry for the confusion. Never eaten at Awash.