It is said that the morning meal is the most important meal of the day, which rings even more true if you live in Morningside. This is a college neighborhood so you are going to need lots of energy to start to the day. There’s one fantastic morning joint that has fed residents for sometime now. Kitchenette Uptown, located just north of Columbia University, is the perfect choice for today. The comfort food eatery has earned accolades for its straightforward, classic approach to cooking. The biggest draw are the milkshakes but the morning meals are right there, too. There’s the Lumber Jane (eggs, French Toast, and bacon) or the Lumber Jack (eggs, pancakes and bacon). If pancakes are your poison, sink your teeth into the Hudson Valley (chocolate chip and banana topped with homemade granola) or the strawberry peach pancakes.
There’s a diner at the corner of Broadway and 112th Street that you’ll need to check out. The exterior of Tom’s Restaurant was used as the stand-in for Monk’s Cafe in the legendary sitcom Seinfeld. Naturally, you will need to sit and sample some grub. The food is your typical diner selections, but what is startling is that the interior of the place does resemble Seinfeld’s (the show’s interiors were filmed on a stage in L.A.). That alone will make you come back many a time to re-enact a scene or two from the show.
The biggest attraction in Morningside Heights is the unparalleled presence of academia. The neighborhood has been called the Academic Acropolis, and here you are nearly at all times mere blocks from some of the most storied educational establishments in the country. Morningside Heights has been compared to Boston, home to MIT and Harvard. But if you walk around your neighborhood, you will discover other distinguished colleges like Barnard College (site of the Battle of Harlem Heights), NY Theological Seminary, and Manhattan School of Music.
Aside from the strong presence of faculties, there’s a large contingent of religious institutions that simply must be visited for their glorious architecture. In the area, you will come across a number of historic and landmark churches, including Corpus Christi Church, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Riverside Church and the Church of Notre Dame. The last was critical in integrating the first French community in the city. Today, the Church of Notre Dame still features an intricate façade and pillars. It was also to have a dome, but the dome was never completed.
The bar scene in Morningside is surprisingly low key, considering the number of colleges in the area. Still, there’s one bar that you will have to visit. The West End Lounge, located at West End Avenue and Broadway, was established in 1911 and continues to be a watering hole preferred by the Columbia University students and faculty. Its slogan even mentions the university: “Where Columbia Had Its First Beer.” The bar plays an important role in the city’s pop culture. The West End was the former hangout of many founding members of the Beat Generation. In the 1940’s, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (a Columbia University student) spent hours at the bar discussing their studies and future.