In Da Heights: Your Guide to the Basics
First of all, use the dry cleaners, especially before a shabbaton Downtown. Second, you might be tempted to take your dry cleaning to Toffy’s Cleaning because it is conveniently placed right next to Golan and Grandma’s. But service is poor, the cleaning is mediocre, and the wait time is often two days. The Commentator recommends JM Cleaners on St. Nicholas between 186th and 187th for next day service and excellent dry cleaning.
There’s a reason Grandma’s Pizza is always busy and Lake Como looks empty. The pizza at Grandma’s is distinct and delicious, just try to avoid the lunchtime line. The Commentator buys its pizzas from Grandma’s, shouldn’t you?
Wedged between Marsan’s Travel Service and Marisco Centro Seafood, St. Nicholas Hardware between 185th and 186th has all you’ll ever need. They can also fix appliances, which will come in handy if, well, your sheets hit the fan.
Viva Pharmacy on the corner of 185th and St. Nicholas is a Ma and Pa shop with a very limited selection of merchandise. For a more varied shopping experience, try the nearby Rite Aid on the corner of 186th and St. Nicholas.
Just Kosher at 187th and Amsterdam is basically profiteering off the backs of lazy YU students, and truthfully, the basics are extremely expensive, though their prepared chicken is mighty delicious. If you are planning a big shop, try Key Foods on the corner of 187th and Broadway. But be forewarned: it’s a hike.
Fruit in the Heights is notoriously terrible. The rule of thumb is: don’t buy fruit or vegetables you aren’t going to eat in less than two days. That being said, California Fruit Market on the corner of 183rd and St. Nick is the best place to buy apples, bananas, and, of course, niñitos, cañas, guayabas, and chironjas—if you’re looking.
In the small likelihood that you go to YU and are good at basketball, you can organize a game in the YU gym or, if you’re adventurous, play in the neighborhood court on 187th between Audubon and St. Nick. BYOB (Bring your own ball).
Off Campus Shuls:
Washington Heights has more synagogues than you can count. If you are in YU, there are really three main off-campus options. Sheink Shul in the Shottenstein Center, though part of YU, is geared toward recently married YU couples and many YU guys living off campus looking for an expedient shul. Mt. Sinai Jewish Center, on 187th and Broadway, is most likely the largest singles shul in North America. Beware, Friday night post-davening can be a terrifying social scene. K’hal Adath Jeshurun—or Breuer’s—is located on Bennet Ave. between 184th and 186th. They may not have too many singles on Friday night, but they do have a choir.
Unless you are a student leader and have a special reserved space, just don’t bring a car. Seriously. It’s not worth the worry, the tickets, or the towing charges.
Do you plan on staying in shape while at YU? If so, Riverside Park is the perfect place to go for a bike ride or a jog. Believe it or not, the only BMX and mountain biking park in Manhattan is on 191st and Amsterdam. If you don’t care about being in shape, check out the zaidies at Golan.
The University Barber Shop, between Lake Como Pizza and Golden City Chinese Restaurant (which is traif) gives decent haircuts. Plus you can do your income taxes in the same store. Seriously, we didn’t make that up.
Ever been locked out of your apartment? ‘Cause its not a fun experience. Make an extra copy of your key for the small fee of $1.50 at “Blue Sky Locksmith,” located between 184th and 185th on Saint Nicholas Avenue.
Sorry, but your best bet is going elsewhere in Manhattan. Three notables are AMC Loews Lincoln Square, AMC Empire (in Times Square), and AMC Kips Bay (for dates with the women at Stern College, obviously).