Morningside Heights’ restaurant scene changed drastically over the summer, with an unusually large amount of construction taking place. New eateries include casual fast food locations, sit-down restaurants, and a game café, as well as relocations and renovations to already established businesses, many of which have already opened.
Hex & Company
The Columbia community’s newest addition opened on Tuesday at 112th Sreet. and Broadway. Hex & Company is a game café—a restaurant, café, and place to play tabletop, card, and board games.
“It’s been chaos, of course, to get the doors open and figure everything out,” said Greg May, co-founder of Hex & Company, “but it’s been a lot of fun—there’s been a great response from the community. Lots of families and college kids are already asking about birthday parties and graduation parties.”
May also co-founded The Uncommons in 2013, the first game café of its kind in New York City, located downtown in Greenwich Village near New York University.
Hex & Company had its soft launch over the weekend with a private event for the regional qualifiers for Unrivaled Tabletop Tournament, a nationwide tabletop game tournament, drawing gamers from all over the northeast United States.
The café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a menu that includes sandwiches, soups, local pastries, and flatbreads.
Possibly the most anticipated of all restaurants to arrive in Morningside Heights this year, New York-based burger chain Shake Shack opened beneath Barnard’s 600 West 116th Street dorm on Aug. 23. In addition to the standard Shake Shack menu of burgers, fries, and hot dogs, the Morningside Heights location offers three exclusive concrete flavors, as well as local beers and pastries. The casual eatery has been consistently packed since opening, with lines occasionally spilling out onto the street.
Long-defunct grocery store D’Agostino has finally been replaced by H mart, a grocery chain specializing in Asian goods. Building permits have confirmed that H mart’s second Manhattan location will indeed be at 110th Street and Broadway, where construction is already underway. The store is known for a wide variety of specialty Korean goods, and its other location on 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue features both a grocery store and a hot food counter with delivery service.
This Cajun-style seafood restaurant was one of the first new eateries to appear in the neighborhood this year, opening for business just before finals season at the end of April. It filled the long-empty space beneath popular student bar The Heights. Known for large portions and fresh ingredients, its menu includes seafood options such as blue crab, shrimp, and lobster. The restaurant currently only serves food and non-alcoholic drinks, but there are future plans for a full bar to open as well.
The second in a chain founded by Yale graduates, junzi kitchen opened in mid-June. The two main options on the menu are bing wraps and noodle bowls, both of which are customizable with fresh Chinese-inspired toppings and sauces. A late-night menu also offers snacks and casual food that takes its cues from Chinese street food.
“The junzi team is excited to have evolved our food, foundation and experience from our first New Haven location and offer it to New York City,” junzi co-founder Yong Zhao said in a statement. “We hope that by bringing together our traditional food and culture in a modern American style of dining, we can add to New York’s ever-growing and changing culinary landscape.”
La Grata and Serafina
In mid-July, La Grata moved into the space on Amsterdam Avenue and 122nd Street formerly occupied by Serafina, another Italian restaurant chain. The Harlem location is La Grata’s second; it first opened in the South Bronx in October 2016. Executive chef Erminio Conte formerly worked at other Italian restaurants in New York, including Barolo and Fiorini.
Meanwhile, Serafina will be moving into the spot on 105th Street and Broadway that Toast, a pub which also has another location on 125th Street and Broadway, occupied until January. In the meantime, Serafina’s 122nd Street location closed in early May, and signs soon went up at 105th Street for the new restaurant, where it will continue to serve a similar menu of Italian appetizers, salads, and pizzas.
While not open yet, Chinese fast food chain Panda Express will be moving into a spot on 111th Street and Broadway—news that has already made waves among Columbia students. The restaurant will be close to Mel’s Burger Bar and is tentatively scheduled to open in early 2018. Its combination of low prices, quick service, and location close to the Columbia campus will likely make it a favorite fast food spot.
Bernheim and Schwartz
Just before the end of last spring, local bar Bernheim and Schwartz announced that it would no longer be open for regular dining service. Instead, the beer hall can only be rented out for private events and offers catering for off-site events with dishes from its previous menu. Senior Nights, which used to be held in Bernheim and Schwartz, have now been relocated to Amity Hall.