Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right The best restaurants near Columbia University

Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

Photograph: Filip Wolak

The best restaurants near Columbia University

At the best restaurants near Columbia University in New York City, find everything from soul food to ramen

By Dan Q Dao

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

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jin Ramen

1. Jin Ramen

Restaurants Japanese 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.

Junzi Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Leo L.

2. Junzi Kitchen

Restaurants Chinese Morningside Heights

Northern Chinese fare is the focus of this fast-casual newcomer, 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.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Karen C.

3. Thai Market

Restaurants Thai 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.

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Roy Barnett Jr.

4. Melba’s

Restaurants Soul and southern American 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.


5. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Restaurants Barbecue 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.

Absolute Bagels
Photograph: Filip Wolak

6. Absolute Bagels

Restaurants Bakeries 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.


7. Hungarian Pastry Shop

Restaurants Bakeries 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 there are unmatched views of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine from outdoor tables.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lauren Y.

8. Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too

Restaurants Soul and southern American 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.


9. Pisticci

Restaurants Italian 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.

Want to eat at a classic NYC restaurant?


    You may also like