The best restaurants near Columbia University

At the best restaurants near Columbia University in New York City, find everything from soul food to ramen
Photograph: Filip Wolak
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Columbia students have a reputation for being the nerds of the New York City collegiate crowd. And while they’re admittedly very smart, we suspect they’re fueling those active brains with some pretty some grub. From some of the best ramen in NYC to the best Harlem restaurants, you can choose from many of the best Upper West Side restaurants near the Columbia campus. We’ve rounded up the best restaurants near Columbia University, because great minds deserve great meals.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best restaurants near Columbia University

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jin Ramen
Restaurants, Japanese

Jin Ramen

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

Yes, you can still get great ramen without venturing south into NYU territory for Ippudo. This uptown noodle joint, with another location in Morningside Heights, offers a variety of ramen standards (shio, soyu, miso and tonkotsu) as well as a chicken-based kimchi variety and a vegetarian option. Appetizers run the gamut from meat-filled buns to dumplings. The cozy wood-lined space offers a soothing environment ideal for slurping up the soul-warming broth.

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Karen C.
Restaurants, Thai

Thai Market

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

This Bangkok-market–themed restaurant serves up reliable Southeast Asian classics—think curries, grilled fishes and a selection of noodles ranging from pad Thai to sen mee neau peuy, a beef noodle soup. For dessert, sip on a creamy Thai iced tea or try traditional desserts like tapioca in coconut pudding or mango and sticky rice. With photographs of Thai food street hawkers lining the walls, you’ll feel instantly transported to warmer climates.

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Massawa
Restaurants, Ethiopian

Massawa

icon-location-pin Morningside Heights

There’s an embarrassing shortage of African food in Manhattan, which makes Massawa, named after a coastal Eritrean city, all the more special. The East African mainstay focuses on the cuisines of Ethiopia and Eritrea, with traditional offerings such as tebsi (sauteed beef cubes, tomatoes, jalapeños), alithca beghe (simmered lamb), and hiwas of spicy shrimp and collard greens. There is also an array of vegan options, ranging from pureed chickpeas called shiro to alitcha, a potato stew.

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Melba’s
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Roy Barnett Jr.
Restaurants, Soul and southern American

Melba’s

icon-location-pin Harlem

You can’t talk about Harlem’s food scene without mentioning Melba’s. Born-and-bred Harlemite Melba Wilson, a soul food icon, opened the spot back in 2005. Since then, it’s become a neighborhood destination for understanding—and tasting—the history of southern food. Southern fried chicken, bronzed and crackly on the outside and juicy on the inside, is a must, but other standouts include the sides of black-eyed peas and collard greens.

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"I always go to the Hungarian Pastry Shop (1030 Amsterdam Ave between 110th and 111th Sts, 212-866-4230) near Columbia University. It's full of hot grad students and people writing novels, and they serve amazing hot chocolate. Afterwards you can go to Max
Restaurants, Bakeries

Hungarian Pastry Shop

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

At this legendary neighborhood institution, head straight up to the counter, give your name and wait for magic to happen in the form of a strudel, tart or baklava. Perfect for unwinding at or even taking a first date to, the cafe also serves up seriously strong java. Note: there are no outlets or Wi-Fi, but as a bonus, there are unmatched views of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine from outdoor tables and some crazy extreme graffiti in the bathroom.

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Junzi Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Leo L.
Restaurants, Chinese

Junzi Kitchen

icon-location-pin Morningside Heights

Northern Chinese fare is the focus of this fast-casual newcomer. The first New York location of a popular new Connecticut chain, the restaurant was first created in New Haven as a study concept by Chinese Yale students. In the have-it-your-way ethos, every order starts with a chun bing (wrap) or noodle bowl that gets customized Chipotle-style with proteins and vegetables. There are also plans for a late-night menu for all the studying night owls, offering street fare like pork belly and fried chicken.

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Absolute Bagels
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, Bakeries

Absolute Bagels

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

What would college in New York City be without one of the best bagel joints? For Columbia kids, that’s Absolute Bagels, a no-frills joint offering hand-rolled, housemade, freshly boiled rounds to start the morning right. A respectable array of toppings includes cream cheeses (blueberry, sun-dried tomato, walnut-raisin), Tofutti, deli meats, salads and silky smoked fish—but trust us, all 16 bagel varieties here taste just fine by themselves.

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Restaurants, Barbecue

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

icon-location-pin Morningside Heights

Craving BBQ? This national chain brings southern comfort to northern Manhattan. As with the group’s other locations, the motif here is a biker hangout and blues venue offering whimsical takes on ‘cue. The menu starts with appetizers like fried green tomatoes and Creole deviled eggs before leading into meaty entrees like west Texas rib eye and BBQ jerk salmon.

Venue says Harlem Dinosaur has a Happy Hour! Every Mon-Fri from 3pm-7pm at the bar. Check out our website for $2-$6 happy hour specials

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lauren Y.
Restaurants, Soul and southern American

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

This Michelin-nodded charmer is a bona fide mecca for essential southern fare: Louisiana catfish, deep-fried shrimp, fried bird and, of course, fixins like collard greens and cornbread stuffing. Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, but once you’ve had a taste of that famous smothered chicken, you’ll be coming back for more.

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Pisticci
Restaurants, Italian

Pisticci

icon-location-pin Morningside Heights

No, we didn’t forget Italian restaurants. This wood-paneled subterranean trattoria is perfect for a weeknight dinner occasion, perhaps with a special someone. The embodiment of an ideal neighborhood restaurant, Pisticci checks all the boxes: dim lighting, framed photos and even spaghetti for two to “share with your amici.” The best part? The folks here grow their own organic produce at the Pisticci Full Circle Farm 30 miles north of the city—what’s leftover is used for compost. It’s a planet-friendly ethos that we love as much as the pasta.

Want to eat at a classic NYC restaurant?

Restaurants, Mediterranean

Zavō Mediterranean Restaurant

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

Talk about dinner and a show: This restaurant on the Upper East Side pairs upscale Mediterranean dishes with live entertainment from aerialists, acrobats and musicians. The theme changes depending on the night—Thursdays are Argentinian nights while Saturdays are Venetian-themed—as does the chef’s special menu. Start your evening with a glass, bottle or magnum of wine: Zavō offers a wide selection of vintages from its wine cellar. If you want the full show experience, dine upstairs and order from the three-course prix-fixe menu. Start with appetizers like charred octopus with black garlic aioli, quinoa-lobster salad, burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil oil and filet mignon tartare with cured egg yolk. Entrees include Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in garlic and white wine, black sea bass with zucchini and yellow squash and braised short ribs with burgundy wine jus. Sweet bites such as apple-pistachio baklava, passion fruit tart and dark chocolate cake finish the meal.

Venue says Best deal in NY: 3-course lunch menu for only $27.50 M-F 11:30-4:30. Happy Hour M-F 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm drink specials & 10% off bar menu

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