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Best Late Night Hangout Spots for Columbia Students

By  Heidi Patalano and Nikki Lohr | August 12, 2013 3:32pm 

 These Upper West Side and Morningside Heights spots are open late.
Late Night Hangout Spots for Columbia Students
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MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — There's absolutely no reason to study on an empty stomach in New York City.

All-night diners and after-hour eateries abound on the Upper West Side, many within shouting distance of your Columbia University dorm room.

So if your brain functions better on a full belly, check out one of these nearby hot spots for a tasty midnight study snack — or at least that's what you tell your parents.

Max Caffe
1262 Amsterdam Ave. at W. 122 Street
Open 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
This Morningside Heights coffee shop is a staple of both students and neighborhood locals. With a variety of small dishes such as the tramezzini, tapas and panini, you can stay fueled while working late into the night.

3157 Broadway between Tiemann and LaSalle streets
Open Monday to Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Thursday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
With three locations in the Upper West Side (including this location, one at 2737 Broadway on the corner of 105th Street and a brand new location at Amsterdam and 123rd Street) Toast has become an icon of the neighborhood. Manager of the 3157 Broadway location, John Clark, says that students gravitate to the restaurant.

“I'm hearing every year from Manhattan School of Music students, ‘Toast is where you go,’” he said. “Apparently everybody over there says Toast is the spot. I think it’s because we have a great staff who are young and usually in the arts themselves. Our servers are very personable. It’s all very down to earth and fun. That’s how we like it.”

Under-aged students are welcome to hang with upperclassmen who can take advantage of drink specials, but under-21's will likely be asked to leave after the kitchen closes at midnight.

City Diner
2441 Broadway at 90th Street
Open daily 24 hours
A 24-hour diner is a student’s best friend and in this city, you have plenty of options. The City Diner not only provides all of the classic greasy-spoon dishes you’d expect, it serves them up in a recently refurbished art-deco space that’ll add some class to your after-hours hang time. 

Metro Diner
2641 Broadway at 100th Street
Open daily 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
All chrome, neon and leather banquette, the Metro Diner has the hallmarks of a classic diner spot. The not-quite-24-hour establishment offers pastries baked on the premises and the usual voluminous diner menu that’ll keep your belly full for hours.

2745 Broadway at 105th Street
Open Monday – Friday noon to 1 a.m. (4 a.m. for bar only)
Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (4 a.m. for bar only)
As a restaurant and bar, Henry’s stays open until 4 a.m. for drinkers. However, unlike most non-diner restaurants in the area, Henry’s offers a late night menu until 1 a.m. that under-aged guests can partake in so long as there are tables available — minors aren’t allowed to sit at the bar. The late night menu include appetizers like fried calamari and duck confit spring rolls and larger meals like the classic burger, grilled chicken club.

The Ellington at 936 Amsterdam Ave. at 106th Street has a similar policy, allowing minors to stay until 1 a.m. — an hour after the kitchen has closed. Cleopatra’s Needle, a jazz club at 2485 Broadway at 92nd Street, allows minors to stay daily until 2 a.m. when the kitchen closes (provided those guests spend at least $10).

French Roast
2340 Broadway at West 85th Street
Open daily, 24 hours
Don’t call this landmark of the Upper West Side a diner. It’s way too sophisticated for that. This French bistro has all the fried foods late-night diners could want, but also serves up mussels and escargot for the discerning night owl, says chef Frederick Picirillo. Overnight business picks up at about 2 a.m., he said, adding that many students stop in after catching a late-night movie at the AMC Loews Cinema one block south. That’s an undergrad date-night made in heaven.

Late-Night Sweets

Cafe Lalo
201 West 83rd Street at Amsterdam Ave.
Open Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Cafe Lalo, on 84th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, is open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until 2 a.m. the rest of the week. The floor-to-ceiling bay windows, brick walls, and Christmas lights draped on the trees outside all contribute to Lalo’s ‘20s café environment.

The menu boasts about 70 different types of cakes and cheesecakes and 19 different flavors of pie. In addition there are cookies, canolis, éclairs, napoleons, milk shakes, ice creams and sorbets. You name it, Cafe Lalo probably has it. Except for baklava. 

Dessert prices typically hover around the $8 to $9 range.  

1272 Amsterdam Ave. at West 123rd Street
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If you want something closer that pairs a vintage atmosphere with a sinfully caloric treat, Kitchenette on 123rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue is the place to go. While Lalo is out of the flapper era, Kitchenette is reminiscent of a 1960s country kitchen.

Open until 11 p.m. every night, Kitchenette’s bakery menu includes cupcakes with unexpected flavors like PB&J, lemon meringue and crème brûlée ($3.50 each). Cookies, pudding, cheesecakes, milkshakes and pies are available. The most expensive dessert does not exceed the $8 mark.

Hungarian Pastry Shop
1030 Amsterdam Ave., at 111th Street
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
For a grungier environment, there is — of course — the Hungarian Pastry Shop on 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. “It’s a classic Columbia establishment,” said Marc Pelessone, a class of 2016 Columbia student. The shop’s ambiance, from its dim lighting to its friendly staff who never push you to leave, make it a hallmark hangout spot.

“It’s definitely a great place to spend a leisurely hour or two,” said Pelessone. The Hungarian is open until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. Be aware that they accept only cash.

On July 22, Insomnia Cookies opened right next door to the Hungarian Pastry Shop. Insomnia delivers freshly baked cookies until 3 a.m.