W 114th St: good eats nearby?
Hi, I'm visiting NYC for a week with hubby and baby and will be staying at W 114th St, which doesn't even feature on any of the maps in the guidebook I am looking at (a friend is lending me her apt). We have limited cooking facilities, so would be looking to eat out mostly or buy easy-to-prepare stuff to bring back to the apt. I've been told the area is quite expensive: will it break the bank to eat out a lot?
We're from London, so would like to try stuff that you can't get there easily, like American/Jewish/Mexican cuisine. Katz's is on the top of my list of places to eat at.
I'd be grateful for any tips. Thanks.
A big thank you to everyone who replied to my original post. I'm back from my NYC trip now. I thought I'd have my sister's laptop to check the Chow website before deciding on where to eat, but her computer died in Boston and I hadn't written down the places in ll your recommendations that interested me.
I know there will be some cringing when I tell you some of the places I ended up eating. I was staying in a friend's apartment and she took us some places that might not have been top of my list. We had lunch at Amir's. I had the felafel, which were nice. The chicken and mallamb shwarma was nice, but nothing great. We got takeaway from Central Havana for dinner one night. I had some sort of saffron rice with shrimp. I couldn't really taste any saffron in the rice, maybe they used cheap saffron or maybe there was no saffron in there at all! But at least the shrimp was nicely cooked, not overcooked and tough but just right and tender. I had asked my friend to choose a place where we could treat her to dinner, and she chose Mama Mexico. My husband nearly had a fit when he saw the mariachi band. That is the sort of place he would run a mile from. I tried to make the most of it: got drunk on frozen margaritas and made sure the mariachis stayed well away from my baby who was sleeping in his stroller. Even then, whenever they struck up their music in another part of the restaurant, my baby would jump in his stroller and open his eyes momentarily before going back to sleep. Probably thought he was having some surreal dream! The guacamole was nice. Food was nice, but not memorable. Having to dine in terror of mariachis is a bit stressful, even when one is drunk. One night my husband and I were trying to find Amy Ruth's but it seemed as if we would have to walk a long way or have to cut through Morningside Park to get there and at 10pm I didn't feel like cutting through the park, so we ended up at Deluxe instead. He had a burger with goat's cheese-roast garlic spread and I had mac n' cheese and a deluxe alcoholic milkshake. The mac n' cheese was good, but not great. It's just because I'm lazy and never manage to make it at home in London and restaurants in the UK don't really do mac n cheese. The milkshake was really good, very cold and with a good kick of bailey's and kahlua. We had lunch at Sakagura on the Lower East Side one day, meeting friends. I'm not really into Japanese food, so can't really comment. I had braised eel in teriyaki sauce on rice. It was good. The front of the house made a big fuss about not being able to accommodate a baby but friend who booked stood her ground and said she had mentioned the baby at the time of booking and finally they let us in with the baby. My memory is failing me a bit now, but we did go to Miss Mamie's Spoonbread for dinner. We ordered popcorn shrimp to start with, and that was very good, and 2 mains to share between 3 of us: louisiana catfish and miss mamie's barbeque chicken. The catfish was good, not too greasy, but too much for us to finish and the proportion of fish to batter was a bit disappointing. The barbeque chicken was not good. The sauce was too sweet. Macaroni cheese seemed old and tough. Collard greens were ok.
Now when I look over this thread I want to kick myself for not having tried so many of the places suggested. But looking on the bright side, my sis is joining Columbia this autumn, so I will be returning to the Upper West Side to visit her at some point soon and be able to try out the places I missed.
Thanks again to all of you.
Next time you come try getting to Amy Ruth's during the day so you can browse the area a bit. It is a little slice of Africa that has come to be dubbed Little West Africa. Not sure if the catfish was just not good or if you were expecting it be prepared like it might be in the U.K. True Southern Catfish is prepared with a light cornmeal coating rather than batter and deep fried until it is crisp on the outside by juicy and tender inside. It should be seasoned with salt and black and cayenne peppers then served with a side of hot sauce nice and hot out of grease. I've had the catfish fingers (I know, weird name) from Mamies and they were pretty good. Their sides are usually good but I'm not a huge fan of their entrees and desserts. If you have a sweet tooth be sure to get a slice of red velvet from Make My Cake next time you come too. They are around the corner from Amy Ruth's.
re: racer x
baked goods better than savory stuff, and the heavenly buttery or oniony smells that waft out of their kitchen are better than both. chicken dishes better than disappointingly gristly lamb. the dishes they used to serve only at ramadan are making a more regular appearance on their menu, which is a great thing. s...l...o...w... service. lovely vibrant senegalese social scene.
I live in the neighborhood, but I agree, the food choices aren't good. The best:
and Community, quite good but expensive and crowded
The Korean food at The Mill is especially cheap at lunch and can be good if you know what to order
If you venture further down the West Side, best choices are Ouest (expensive) and Hampton Chutney (cheap but excellent)
Native is the best french soul food mix. It is on 118th St and Lenox ave. The people are nice and the food is fabulous. They have a cool price-fixe menu too. I've literally have had everything on the menu at least twice. Mojtos is on 116 St. between 2nd and 3rd avenues. Simple, inexpensive and great Mexican food. On week days, happy hour is 4 dollar mojtos. There is a great hole in the wall Italian place, I can't remember the name but it is dynamite. that is on 118th Street between 5th and Madison, closer to 5th. The owner is this cute Italian dude and he is very nice. I always get freebies and so do many of my friends who go. A glass of wine or stuff like that.
It can be expensive here, but you just have to know which places have good deals and great food. I hope you enjoy your visit.
I have lived here for a year now and though it is not the best place for food we have pretty much tried every place in the area at least once. First of all, do not go to Ollies, Swish, Toms, bistro 1018, or camilles, havana central - they are all quite poor.
The best places around are 1) Community food and Juice (bway btwn 112 and 113) which is a little pricier to me, around 16-25$ an entree, but very good - i would describe it as american
2) campo (bway btwn 112 & 113) very good new italian place
3) A cafe and wine room (108 and columbus) very good french Caribbean, byob, all organic and they have a deal where you get an appetizer and entree for $20 from 5-8pm
4) Indus Valley (bway and 100th) only indian worth going to in the area - it is very good 5) noche mexicana (amst betwn 101 and 102) again the only good mexican in the area 6) sal and carmines (bway between 101&102) pizza some say it is one of the best in the city but it is definitely the best in the area
7) Thai Market (amst between 107 and 108) and Sookk (bway btwn 102&103) are both good choices for thai --
also CF&J is the best breakfast in the area but a little pricey, deluxe is a decent diner for a basic diner breakfast
P&W (amst between 110 and 111) has very good sandwiches and the pastry shop next door has good pastries
fairway market (12th ave btwn 132 and 133) is a good place to stock up on groceries
hamilton deli (amst betw 115 & 116) is good for a quick egg sandwich or bagel in the morning
Sezz Medi (amst and 122) has decent personal pizzas (filetto is the best)
as far as rest
- max soha was ok, nothing spectacular,
- pisticci was quite good the first time we went but the subsequent 3 times, our meal were either burned, or overcooked and a bowl of spaghetti 4 two with a salad and a carafe of wine ended up being close to $60 which i felt was a bit much for what we got.
- voza- decent italian food at decent prices but beware of the specials, i ordered a fish special that had a slightly different sauce than the other fish dishes on the menu thining that it would be a similar price to those fish dishes and they charged $26 when the menu prices were around $14 and it must have been about 2-3 ounces, also ordered the beefsteak tomato appetizer which was one thin slice of tomato with pesto on top which ended up being 14$ - bottom line very small portions!
On the mexican front, your best burrito (not true mexican, but blows away the local competition) will be delivery from Tres Pasos (http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...), which is at 137th and Broadway, but it delivers all over the place. This totally blows away the competition in the neighborhood (and in Manhattan, that I've found).
I can't believe anyone would discourage you from going to Melba's. I live on the corner of 113th and Melba's is our absolute favorite. The short ribs are to die for, as is the grit cake and pretty much anything else you can get on the menu. I just took my friends from London there last week and they absolutely adored it. Plus the wait staff is lovely - but they're busy, so if you feel ignored just get their attention and they'll take care of you. My boyfriend and I are total foodies, and this is our favorite place in the neighborhood including all the good places you can go up on Broadway. So yes - hit Melba's at 114th and Frederick Douglas! Live a little! It's totally American and you won't get anything like it in London. Plus it's WAY affordable!
Also - the Mill is great for Korean food, really fun. Crepes on Columbus at 109th is so amazing! Try the goat cheese and ratatouille crepes ---- gorgeous! Also, "A" which has moved to 104 and Columbus is also lovely - sort of caribbean....
We also LOVE Awash Ethiopian food on 106 and columbus - although it's slow - but hey, it's worth it.
Make sure you take a trip down to H&H bagels on 80th street for a decent bagel - I always go next door to the Zabar's cafe and grab a 50 cent cream cheese, then go to H&H and get my bagel there. Sesame..... mmmmmm.... good luck! have fun!
In the neighborhood, I would second recommendations for:
Thai Market (Amsterdam around 107)
Community Food and Juice (lunch) (Broadway around 113 or 114)
Dinosaur BBQ (just north 125th street all the way by the river)
Kitchenette (go for breakfast, not worth it for dinner) (Amsterdam near 122 or 123)
Sal & Carmines (Broadway b/t 101 and 102)
Indus Valley (Broadway at 100 I think, though maybe the Indian food is better in London?)
In fact, with the possible exception of Dinosaur BBQ (where the BBQ is very good) these are all fine options for a decent meal, but none are exceptional. If you really want to try what New York has to offer foodwise, jump on the 1 train at 116th street and explore the city.
Avoid Deluxe (113 and Broadway) and Amir's (Broadway b/t 113 and 114; if you want falafel go to Jerusalem Falafel at Broadway around 102 or 103). Luckily Pertutti is gone, so you don't run any risk of that crazy nightmare.
General recommendations for your categories:
Jewish/Deli: I would take the trip down to Katz's, the neighborhood is fun to walk in anyway. If you don't want to go down there, you could go to Artie's (Broadway and 84 I think), but it's not as good. I would go look at the outside of Tom's to get the Seinfeld thrill, but the inside isn't the Seinfeld diner, and as other people have noted, the food is not good (despite the fact that my grandfather crazily ate roast beef there regularly for many years).
American: maybe this is a crazy idea (probably don't bring the baby unless you go for lunch), but you could go to Corner Bistro on west 4th. It's in the west village which is fun and it's a pretty great bar, burger place (not fancy at all).
Mexican: less sure about the best places for this, but I think someone already mentioned Taqueria y Fonda (Amsterdam around 107) which is pretty good
Oh yea, not sure if someone said this already, but the Farmer's Market at 114th and Broadway is Thursdays and Sundays. Good luck.
The block of Amsterdam between 122 and 123 (a pleasant walk from 114th) has become a restaurant row. And the restaurants range from mediocre to really good:
Max Soha and Lounge - good Italian
Sez...... (can't remember) - good Italian
Kitchenette - basic American with great bakery
Lyla's - good crepes and other things, huge menu
A new Japanese/chinese place.
Hope that helps.
I lived in the neighborhood for about 4 years 10+ yrs ago. Unless things have drastically changed, the chowish pickings there are pretty slim. Do like the locals do and hop on the subway - in just a few minutes, you'll have many much better choices.
But if you must eat in/near Morningside Heights:
Another vote AGAINST Ollie's.
I'd also skip the Hungarian Pastry Shop - never could understand how that place stays in business.
The Seinfeld diner is only the Seinfeld diner on the outside. Inside doesn't look or feel anything like the diner that was on the show (just so you don't get your hopes too high).
Dinosaur barbecue is worth a visit if you do plan to eat in the area, but it's a pretty far (maybe 20 min) walk from 114th - might want to take the subway to 125th.
Florence's serves up terrific West African (Ghanaian and Ivorian) chow on Frederick Douglass Blvd (aka 8th Ave) between 113th & 114th st in Harlem. It's a total hole-in-the-wall place, but inexpensive, filling, and delicious. One of their okra stews is great way to get your umami fix. The catch, though, is that you have to go around Morningside Park to get there from where it sounds like you'll be staying. The easiest way is to walk east across 110th street then turn left to head uptown a few blocks.
If you like Ethiopian, there's Awash on Amsterdam Ave between 106th & 107th st. It seems to be pretty popular among chowhounds (I haven't eaten Ethiopian in many years, so can't comment).
For more suggestions, have a look at these threads, if you haven't already:
re: racer x
There's one Mexican restaurant worth visiting in the neighborhood, Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana on Amsterdam between 107th and 108th, huge burritos and delicious tacos.
Absolute Bagels on Broadway between 107th and 108th has great bagels, one of the best in the city.
You'll have to go outside the neighborhood for great New York pizza, but Sal & Carmine's on Broadway between 101st and 102nd makes a good slice.
Don't expect much food-wise from Tom's, but it's worth a visit if you're a Seinfeld fan, and the milkshakes are quite good (ask about the multi-flavor shakes that aren't on the menu).
As far as markets in the neighborhood go, Westside Market on Broadway and 110th is my personal choice.
With the dollar what it is, you're going to find NYC pretty cheap. Essentially, prices here in dollars are close to what they are in pounds, so look at America as one long half-price sale for you.
I live in Morningside Heights and barely ever eat here. The food options aren't exciting. Places to look at in the neighborhood:
Community Food and Juice--really good for every meal, would be classified as American food--most of it is locally sourced, straightforward presentation.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is definitely not the best barbecue in the city and it feels much more like a restaurant you'd find in other parts of the country, but it's got good beers on tap, food you definitely cannot get in London, and is pretty good. It's where I take my relatives (also from London) when they come here, so they can marvel in the mountains and mountains of meat. It's about as American as you can get, if not exactly very New York.
Before you go to Dinosaur, go to Fairway--a great grocery store, where you can stock up on supplies for your stay. I don't think of delis as places to get food at all; they're really more like convenience stores, where you can buy beer, soda, candy, and cigarettes. Yes, you can get a sandwich, but why bother? Get good meat and bread at Fairway and make your own at your apartment.
Check out the little Farmer's Market on Thursday and Sunday, which is between 113 and 114 on Broadway.
Whatever you do please don't go to Ollie's--unless you want to know what bad American-Chinese food tastes like, which might be an interesting anthropological project, but not a good way to eat. Chinatown has better options. Check out Amazing 66 on Mott Street.
Tom's: go take your picture in front of the sign and walk across the street to Community Food and Juice.
Mexican is among the weak spots in NYC. Don't bother. Wait until you go to Chicago or California.
Do go to Katz's, but also make sure you go to Barney Greengrass for breakfast one morning. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by Jewish food, but I suspect this might fit the bill.
I agree that this isn't exactly the best place for Mexican, but if you must - Rosa Mexicano down at Lincoln Center is great. You don't have to get entrees - a good place to go to grab an excellent frozen pomegranate margarita and just have something off the appetizers - like chicken flautas...don't go for a dinner - it's pricey and you'll feel unhappy.
Awsome fried chicken and jerk chicken at Miss Mamies. The atmosphere is like you're sitting at someone's kitchen table, very quaint. Great sweet tea there if you're like me (from the south) and love the sickly sweet tea!
You should also try Symposium for delicious Greek food on 113th b/t Bway and Amsterdam!
it's a bit weird up there in the exact pocket you're staying in, but you'll find you have more options then you know what to do with, and truthfully, if you're like most visitors, you'll be too busy exploring the city to worry about food at home.
amy ruth's on 116th for soul food/brunches and late hours on weekends
arties deli on broadway and 83rd has everything Katz's does and more, plus there's a takeout counter
zabars is nearby, and you can take home prepared foods, and some of the last good knishes, and rugelach in the city
also uptown in the same area would be h & h bagels, grom gelato, beard papa cream puffs, grand disy bakery, and gray's papaya for hot dogs.
also near you is miss mamie's spoonbread on 110th... another soul food place.
then dinosaur bbq on 131st.
hamilton deli on 116th is supposed to have good sandwiches but that's heresy
community food and juice is a spin off of clinton st. bakery, on 113th
amirs falafel for lebanese food that's a favorite of cabbies
camille's on 116th for italian is an old fav for columbia people
le monde for french in a pinch....there's also some sort of gift shop/bakery next to a french school nearby but i don't have the name
there's are some italian gems uptown too...pisticci, sezz medi, and max soha on 122nd all get some raves.
there's a greenmarket between 114th/115th on broadway, and a fairway with prepared foods, and great selection of fun specialty items on 12th ave. and a 132nd or the one on 74th
There are a few good places to eat in the neighborhood (and cheap). The mill (Korean) on broadway and around 113th.
A cafe on columbus and 106th is a great french-Caribbean place. It's BYOB, very laid back, tiny and fun.
Tom's diner is open 24/7 and almost all grocery stores/delis in morningside heights are as well. Citarella on 125th and amsterdam is particularly great.
For great pizza you can order in from Vinegar hill (on 138th and broadway).
There are good casual options in your area. If you're willing to walk a few blocks -- give Thai Market (Amsterdam betw. 107/108th) a try. They also deliver. Henry's (B'way at 105th) is a wonderful neighborhood place. Good food and they always make our baby feel very welcome. Enjoy your visit!
You should be able to find reasonably-priced food options. As you probably know you're near Columbia University so between the lower budgets of many students and a weak US dollar (strong British pound) I would think prices won't look so bad; they may even seem cheap, as I've heard more than once from visitors crossing the Atlantic.
I visit Morningside Heights (the name for the general vicinity you'll be staying in) only periodically so maybe other Hounds will have more informed opinions, but you can certainly get Chinese take-out (or eat in) at Ollie's at 116th and Broadway. It's decent food, nothing incredible but solid and convenient. There are several delis and groceries along Broadway. There's one on the east side of Broadway between 113th and 114th (I think) that has kind of higher-end fare. A new restaurant that opened fairly recently had reasonably good food when I went. It's on the west side of Broadway between 112th and 113th (maybe one block further north) called Community something. It's a little pricier than other places in the neighborhood but the atmosphere, food and service are commensurately better, imo.
Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam around 111th Street, across from St John's Cathedral, is a local institution, in case you want to linger over coffee and a pastry one day. Another institution, if you've ever watched the sitcom Seinfield, is Tom's Diner on 112th and Broadway.
Enjoy your visit!
Thanks very much for that. My husband is very excited at the prospect of visiting Tom's Diner because he is a Seinfeld fan. Is it very touristy because of the Seinfeld link?
Any suggestions of what to buy from a NYC deli for a light lunch/supper?
How long do delis stay open?
I've heard NYC is a 24/7 city. London sort of dies after midnight, which is disappointing.
Just to set expectations properly, please don't get your hopes up on the food at Tom's! It's pretty mediocre, at best. I haven't been in ages but I doubt it's very touristy, if you mean long queues of people waiting for tables and all kinds of gimmicks like T-shirts and such.
I guess maybe the classic NYC deli meal would be a pastrami on rye sandwich, or a corned beef Reuben, with an egg cream and slice of cheesecake for dessert. (Actually, not sure if an egg cream is supposed to go with the sandwiches I just described. At the moment, it doesn't sound so appetizing to me.) You should save the pastrami / cheesecake menu for Katz's. Up by Columbia you may want to order simple fare like turkey breast sandwiches with Russian dressing, lettuce and tomatoes. "Hero" sandwiches are basically the same thing but on a larger piece of bread, usually a small loaf or something, for which they charge a little extra. You can also pick prepared foods like pasta salads and a side or two of veggies. I guess a classic NY thing would be a bagel with cream cheese and lox (nova salmon) with fresh squeezed orange juice. This would be for breakfast, or maybe lunch. Another NY item would be a bialys (type of bread) with a "shmear" of cream cheese. (A shmear is NY-ese for "smear" so it's a little less than a regular portion of cream cheese.) Black and white cookies are also classic NY fare but you want to get a well-made one. You can search on this on Chowhound; it's been a hotly debated topic. My key advice would be to stay away from the ones wrapped in cellophane where the icing is already runny. You may want to try a knish at some point from a deli.
Some delis may be open 24/7 but they're not necessarily anything special in terms of what they carry food-wise. I would guess the delis up by Columbia probably stay open till at least 11 p.m., and later on weekends. From my admittedly limited experience I would guess NYC isn't so different from London in terms of opening / closing hours. Okay, now that I think about it maybe things did seem to close earlier in London but while there are certainly places in NY that cater to the night owls, sometimes you still have to search them out.
Hope this helps.
Just a few point of clarifications:
The Columbia neighborhood ("Morningside Heights") may in fact not be where the poster is staying, since W. 114th Street extends east beyond Morningside Park (which is the traditional boundaries of that the Morningside Heights neighborhood, I believe)
Also, "deli", it should be made clear, for the benefit of a foreign visitor, can mean both a store that sells food (including sandwiches) as well as a sit down restaurant (like Katz's or Carnegie Deli.) There are no good traditonal deli restaurants in the Columbia neighborhood, though there are good places to get a sandwich to go (like Westside Foods (a supermarket on B'way and 110) or Milano Market, on B'way and 113th.)
In any case, I would add to the various recommendations
Symposium in the Columbia neighboorhood, like Hungiarian Pastry Shop a bit of an instituition, with solid (not great) Greek food in a slightly funky environment...And, in "SoHa" (South Harlem, a bit east of Columbia) I'd strongly recommend Melba's, on approx. 114 and 8th Avenue. Excellent, updated soul food in warm, but sophisticated setting with interesting mix of locals, tourists, young, old, etc And they have a great DJ, at leasat on certain nights ....
have to disagree on the person who recommended Henry's--it's strictly mediocre and expensive for what it is.
Better food can be found at Indus Valley (B'way and 100th Street) --best Indian in the neighborhood
Flor de Mayo (B'way and 102) is an old reliable for roast chicken Peruvian style with excellent plaintains, rice and beans
And for a classic NY coffee shop breakfast, go to Broadway Restaurant on B'way and 102.
ooh, i'd strongly recommend against melba's. we had a very bad experience there, with service both clingy, obsequious and intrusive (please, leave the plate until the food gets swallowed), and totally neglectful (lost our order and totally forgot about us). they were aware of the lost order mess, and tried to make that part up, but the food overall (dried out fried chicken without appreciable batter spice or flavor and cold waffles in my case) paled in comparison to amy ruth's (116th and lenox). people recommend the hamburger there, and maybe i'll go there to check it out, but i'm really not in a rush.
re: rose water
short ribs are to die for. IMO they have the best food in Harlem as long as you know what their specialty is. We got a chance to chat with the chef a bit and they will always let you know the best thing coming out of their kitchen. Rarely will I trust the opinion of the server.