MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — With so many options, figuring out where to eat near Columbia University can be tougher than deciding which classes to take.
The fancy-sounding names, complex menus and persuasive chalk boards outside the hundreds of restaurants in Morningside Heights can be enough to overwhelm any student — and tap out their wallets.
Fear not. DNAinfo New York has done its homework and found seven great meals for $7 or less.
Koronet: 2848 Broadway (at West 110th Street)
You can get a jumbo (and I mean jumbo) slice of cheese pizza for $4, or $5 with a topping. A soda will set you back $1.75. The slices are greasy and too big for one plate, so make sure to help yourself to plenty of napkins. Unless you want everyone to think you're a tourist, ignore the temptation to take an Instagram photo of your giant slice. The place doesn't look fancy from the outside, but there is plenty of seating and $7 will definitely fill your belly.
West Side Market: 2840 Broadway (at West 110th Street)
A healthier alternative is the salad bar at this grocery store. You can get a pound of salad, with as many toppings as the weigh limit allows, for $6.99. If you avoid chicken and keep to a five-topping limit, the damage is generally less than $5. Opt for a coconut-water drink for $1.50 and you’re still paying less than $7. It can be overwhelming for first-timers to walk into the West Side Market, which is known for its narrow aisles that look as though they might topple. But newbies who head straight to the salad bar generally live to tell about it.
Absolute Bagels: 2788 Broadway (at West 108th Street)
These are the best bagels around. You can get a plain bagel for $1 or choose one of their 11 spreads for $3.55. Splurge on a medium coffee for $1.25 and you still have a great meal for a reasonable price. If you get there early enough, you can get a bacon and egg bagel for $2.99. The line can be long in the morning, so arrive early.
Amir’s: 2911 Broadway (at West 114th Street)
The $5.95 lunch deal gets you a falafel pita, one side and a drink. Amir’s is quick, affordable — and tasty. Owners recently revamped the menu, creating new dishes to explore. The renovated interior gets plenty of light and has ample seating. Better yet, the staff does a good job keeping the place clean.
This is one of the most authentic Mexican places around campus. Most of its cooks come from Mexico and bring their own recipes with them. You can get tacos or tortas for $3.50 and wash it down with authentic agua de horchata or Mexican Coca-Cola (made with real sugar) for $2.75. Space is tight but managed like a game of Tetris, so you can always find a place to squeeze in.
Hamilton Deli 1129 Amsterdam Ave. (at West 116th Street)
This deli has a large assortment of sandwiches between $4.74 and $5.75. Its specialty hero sandwiches sell for $6. You can splurge on a great Cuban sandwich and a bottle of water for $7. Hamilton’s is ideal for grabbing a meal in between classes. The deli doesn’t have any seating space but it’s just across the street from campus.
The Interchurch Center, aka "The God Box" 475 Riverside Drive (at West 120th Street)
If you’re serious about saving money this is the only place you need to visit. It isn’t glamorous — the cafeteria is in a windowless basement — but is it good food for a great price. The breakfast special gives you an option of eggs, bacon, sausages, hot and cold cereal, fruit and pancakes, for $2.50. The lunch special, which lets you choose from a deli station, salad bar and hot entrees, is about $5. They aren't open for dinner so you'll have to save money elsewhere.