Previously known as Vandewater’s Heights, Morningside Heights is a classic Manhattan neighborhood on the border of West Harlem and the Upper West Side. Although labeled the ‘Academic Acropolis’ for housing famous institutions such as Columbia University and the Manhattan School of Music, Morningside Heights also boasts some hidden culinary gems. Read our guide to get to know them.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Tucked in between a few low-key restaurants along Amsterdam Avenue, Max Soha is an authentic Italian restaurant that has been serving some of the area’s best pasta since 2001. Their shrimp fettucine alfredo is an easy favorite for its creamy and indulgent white sauce, although the items on their daily menu and specials make it a difficult choice. Whether it’s time for a hearty serving of Italian goodness or a soothing sip of wine, Max Soha is the perfect place to go.
Max Soha, 1274 Amsterdam Avenue (corner of 123rd Street), NY, USA +1 212 531 2221
Despite being a bit hidden from passersby, Pisticci is so well-liked that it’s still usually packed from brunch through dinner. It’s definitely worth the wait for its homey interiors and genuine Italian food. Patrons of the 13-year-old establishment love their addictive garlic bread and famous penne pisticci. Definitely a community treasure, Pisticci is the best place to go to for a romantic dinner or a family gathering.
Pisticci, 125 La Salle Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 9323500︎
Bar, Restaurant, Ethiopian, $$$
Another hidden gem, Massawa is a 25-year-old Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant along Amsterdam Avenue. Don’t let this restaurant’s small size fool you, because the food is a big deal. The tebsi is a must try, but just be ready to get your hands dirty. They also have plenty of platters or combo meals to choose from, so it’s a great place to bring groups.
Massawa, 1239 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 663 0505
Bar, Restaurant, Barbeque, American, $$$
Though its original branch is in downtown Syracuse, the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem has made its own mark and cultivated its own set of loyal customers since opening 11 years ago. Housed in a two-story brick building next to the Hudson River, the restaurant is easily recognized as the home of the best ribs in town. It makes for the perfect comfort food, or a reliable spot to chow down with friends.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 700 West 125th Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 694 1777
Community Food & Juice
Restaurant, American, Healthy, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
Restaurant, Ramen, $$$
Jin Ramen is always a hit among Upper West Side locals, many of whom happily line up outside the restaurant even in the winter. Inconspicuously located below the 125th station of the 1 Train, it boasts of reasonably priced but tasty Japanese favorites, including steamed pork buns and a variety of ramen, the most popular of which is the spicy tonkatsu. If this branch is too full, you can also drop by its other location at 82nd Street and Amsterdam.
Jin Ramen, 3183 Broadway (125th Street) New York, NY, USA + 1 646 559 2862
Hungarian Pastry Shop
A favorite among local artists, professors, and students, the family-run Hungarian Pastry Shop offers its customers a cozy and relaxing ambience. The family-run shop is famous for its Hungarian coffee and its view of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine along Amsterdam. Whether you are there for the location or the pastries, the Hungarian Pastry Shop has proven to be a local New York treasure.
Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 866 4230
Market, Thai, Asian, Vegetarian, $$$
Mel’s Burger Bar
Bar, American, $$$