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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

Written by
Dan Q Dao
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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

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Morningside Heights
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Harlem
  • price 2 of 4

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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Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Morningside Heights
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

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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Hungarian Pastry Shop
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Upper West Side
  • price 1 of 4

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
  • Morningside Heights
  • price 1 of 4

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?

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