In the micro-micro neighborhood centered around Amsterdam Avenue and 113th Street, Columbia students cram for exams at coffee shops and bistros while St. Luke’s Hospital workers grab quick bites from specialty delis.
• Bistro Ten 18 Backlit wine racks and dark wood make for a casual upscale vibe at this New American café. Settle near the windows for a view of St. John’s Gothic spires and discuss tenure over sherry-infused lobster bisque, heart-healthy salmon burgers with parsnip-apple slaw, and the scrumptious fruit crisp. 1018 Amsterdam Ave., at 110th St.; 212-662-7600.
• Mill Korean Restaurant Serene and dimly lit, this family-owned joint is ideal for hushed chatting. Sup on chill-chasing soups like soon dubu — soft tofu stew with pork and kimchee cabbage – and plump mandu dumplings in a spicy beef broth. If you’re not rushing back to midterms or the ER, consider a shot of soju, the vodkalike Korean rice spirit. 2895 Broadway, at 113th St.; 212-666-7653.
• Camille’s A Columbia classic, owing to its homey interior — brick walls, black-and-white photos — and its hearty Italian-American cuisine. The takeout counter suffers a crunch at lunchtime, so dine in and avoid the craziness. Menu highlights: personal cheese-and-pepperoni pies and toothsome baked ziti layered with marinara, eggplant, and ricotta. 1135 Amsterdam Ave., at 116th St.; 212-749-2428.
• The Heights Bar and Grill The Heights does double duty as a nighttime frat hangout, a fact reflected in its hangover-friendly $5.50 lunch menu. Headache helpers include a monster burrito bursting with steak and rice, corn-tortilla lasagne buried in beans, and guacamole and fried calamari with a creamy barbecue-sauce-and-blue-cheese dip. 2867 Broadway, nr. 111th St.; 212-866-7035.
• Deluxe Neighboring Tom’s Diner may be more iconic — we’ve all seen the shot of its exterior in Seinfeld — but cheery Deluxe has the better beef. Their juicy burger comes with a bevy of toppings (we like it with goat cheese and caramelized onions), their tuna melt is top-notch, and the Vermont Cheddar macaroni and cheese is delectably gooey. Wash it all down with a thick Frangelico chocolate malt. 2896 Broadway, nr. 113th St.; 212-662-7900.
• Hungarian Pastry Shop The scene at this Morningside vet is both odd and endearing, from the confounding system of ordering and the paintings of nude angels to the intellectuals still rocking the Allen Ginsberg look. Grab a PB&J; from the affiliated sandwich shop next door, put your name down for apple strudel and Russian coffee (espresso, hot chocolate, and whipped cream) and eavesdrop on the heated arguments over Weber versus Marx. 1030 Amsterdam Ave., at 111th St.; 212-866-4230.
• Le Monde Lunch is quiet at this roomy brasserie, where the specials are marked in French on tarnished mirrors. The menu offers Gallic standbys like soupe à l’oignon with melted Gruyère, warm-goat-cheese salad and freshly made Nutella crêpes. Savor them with a Québécoise ale or a light Loire Muscadet. 2885 Broadway, nr. 112th St.; 212-531-3939.
• Amir’s Falafel Stop by this bare-bones Lebanese hole-in-the-wall for a mouthwatering selection of pitas, including the house’s nutty falafel with tahini and its zesty baba ghannouj. Don’t forget to take a slice of phyllo pastry, dripping with honey and nuts, for a late afternoon snack. 2911 Broadway, nr. 114th St.; 212-749-7500.
• Nussbaum & Wu Avoid the premeds stressing over chem lab under Nussbaum’s fluorescent bulbs by ordering your bagel to go. Choose from a wealth of spreads (egg salad, lox, walnut-and-raisin cream cheese) and a daily rotation of bagel flavors (sourdough, cinnamon, seven-grain). For carb overload, try the jumbo black-and-white cookies or the cream-cheese carrot cake. 2897 Broadway, at 113th St.; 212-280-5344.
• Milano Market The deli counter at this Italian food shop showcases a kaleidoscope of takeout options, from cold salads — glistening mozzarella with roasted tomatoes and basil, tortellini in a garlicky green pesto — to roasted-vegetable wraps and create-your-own cold-cut sandwiches stuffed with imported cappicola, spicy soppressata, or peppery turkey pastrami. 2892 Broadway, nr. 112th St.; 212-665-9500.
• Jas Mart All the Japanese snack food you could ever want, not to mention superb sushi (most notably, futomaki with egg and crab and inari rice balls wrapped in sweet bean curd), can be found at this tiny Asian mart. Look for fun treats like sugary green-mochi dumplings and canned Suntory “Boss Coffee.” 2847 Broadway, nr. 110th St.; 212-866-4780.
• Hamilton Deli The line may be packed with incessantly talkative freshmen, but Hamilton’s sandwiches are worth the torturous wait: Towering turkey clubs, fried eggs on cheesy croissants, and cheekily named heros like the N.Y.P.D., a hulking mass of roast beef, bacon, onions, hot peppers, and melted American cheese. 1129 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 116th St.; 212-749-8924.