Where to Find Hungarian Pastries and Punk in Morningside Heights
Stephanie Kuo The rum ball at Hungarian Pastry Shop is a sweet night's ending -- but won't get you drunk.
Welcome to Drinks, Dinner, and Dessert, in which we share three picks in one neighborhood, keeping an eye out for deals, off-the-menu items, and new stuff to check out. This week, get off the 1 train at 110th Street and use these suggestions to guide you through Morningside Heights.
Drinks: Ding Dong Lounge
Perhaps the only bar in the area that hosts small punk concerts on the weekends, the Ding Dong Lounge is known for its dim lighting, worn-in furniture, and assortment of activities. Hula hoops hang on nails, and if you've had a few drinks, the bartenders will happily encourage you to wiggle your way through the night. A well-loved billiards table illuminated by the only bright light in the bar is usually up for grabs, and decks of cards are always lying around. Happy hour runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Cans of Genesee are $2, beer on tap is $4, and well drinks -- made with a generous hand -- and Guinness are $5. The walls are lined with old rock-show posters and toilet paper hangs on metal chains in the graffittied bathroom, reminders that the Ding Dong is a little rougher than its more refined counterparts a few blocks away. 929 Columbus Ave.
Amigos is the month-old pop-up Mexican restaurant from Chef Alex Garcia of A.G. Kitchen that has already garnered a neighborhood following. Garcia's burgers are topped with bacon, cheddar, and guacamole, and served with spicy "Mexican" fries for $13. The queso fundido mixed with mushrooms and red peppers pulls apart easily and is served piping-hot with warm tortillas for $9. If you're with a group, order the 32-ounce Fish Bowl -- near-lethal pineapple rum punch -- for $19. But if you're dipping into beach drinks, you might as well order a $10 "Shark Attack," a mixture of vodka, lemonade, and grenadine, which comes with a toy shark. 2888 Broadway
Dessert: Hungarian Pastry Shop
The Hungarian Pastry Shop has been around for 51 years for good reason. Low prices, recipes that came straight from Hungary, and bottomless cups of strong coffee keep neighbors and Columbia students coming back and entice tourists to make a visit. The bakery offers an array of Eastern European sweets: thick baklava is sticky and nutty, while rum balls are coated in powdered sugar and almonds. Shared, they make for a few perfect after-dinner bites. The chocolate mousse cake, though not Hungarian, is a must-order, creamy but not too sweet. All three options are $3.85 to go and $4.05 to stay. But sharing a plate at one of the small tables, where customers enjoy cherry strudel over David Foster Wallace paperbacks, is worth the extra two dimes. 1030 Amsterdam Ave.