Food and Drink in the Heights

March 16, 2013

Whether we live in Washington Heights or somewhere else, we students spend most of our time in either the Hammer Health Sciences Building, or the Rosenfield Building, the Mailman School’s main facility. As a resident of lower Washington Heights, I’ve come to be familiar with what this community has to offer. (Read Life in the Heights.) Classmates who don’t live near the medical campus get to know the neighborhood anyway, at least by way of food. I have a few favorites that are just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Hammer library.


Hala Carts at the corner of Broadway and 168th Street


  • Quick & cheap: Cups of coffee can be purchased at any one of the many halal carts lined up on 168th Street. There are about five or six just on that one block leading to the Rosenfeld building and it’s 25 cents cheaper than the $1.25 cup sold inside Hammer. (Don’t be surprised, a poor graduate student learns to count her quarters!

  • There’s always Starbucks: If you’re going to live in New York City, you’re going to find a Starbucks close by. There’s one at the corner of Broadway and 168th and around every corner—so get ready for that. And if you are going to partake, I advise you take full advantage of registering for Starbucks rewards online. Once you reach the “Green Card” status (5 drinks), you can get free coffee and tea refills at the store (yes, anyStarbucks store in the world), plus a free drink on your birthday. Worth it.


Strokos at St. Nicholas and 167th Street has a nice seating atrium-style seating area.

  • Personally, I really enjoy the hot soups sold at Hess Café on the first floor of the Rosenfield building.

  • The sandwiches at Shangri-La (228 Fort Washington) are pretty good. Take notice of the speedy Korean cashier who is so good at her job that she can recognize the type of sandwich by its weight. True story. As she was about to place a sandwich into a plastic bag, she paused and decided that it was too light to be pastrami. In any case, Shangri-La also has an Asian hot food section.

  • Empire Noodles (4041 Broadway) has some pretty authentic Chinese food. Be sure to make it to the restaurant before 3:30 pm for the $6 lunch specials. The second 3:31pm hits, the same portion minus the soup goes up to $8-10.

  • The salads at Jou Jou Café (3959 Broadway) are delicious. It’s a bit pricy ($8 per bowl), but you get to pick out as many toppings as you want.

  • There’s always that halal cart right outside of Hammer. I’ve been there one too many times myself, but they have a hot, quick meal at such a low price. Chicken and gyro rice plate at $5.50. Guilty as charged.

  • Strokos (121 St. Nicholas Ave) is easily overlooked, but has made-to-order salads and pastas at surprisingly affordable prices. It might have been the café’s simple, cute ambience that made me feel the prices would have been much higher than they actually were. One little-known benefit is that the eatery is so close to campus that you can still access Columbia’s wireless Internet. Translation: nice study spot.  


Dallas BBQ at Broadway and 167th Street

  • Drinks at Coogan’s (4015 Broadway). Any time of day. This means that a post-exam celebratory beer at 2 pm is perfectly acceptable, and available just around the corner. They also have Karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Open Mic on Wednesdays.

  • Blended margaritas and chicken wings at Dallas BBQ (3956 Broadway). Same deal, enough said.