Mon-Fri, 7:30am-11:30pm; Sat, 8:30am-11:30pm; Sun, 8:30am-10:30pm
1 at Cathedral Pkwy./110th St.
Though not an official outpost of Columbia University, the Hungarian Pastry Shop has been a de facto lounge for hyperliterate students and uptown writers since JFK was in the White House. Now armed with laptops as well as textbooks (not to mention iPods), patrons fuel up on succulent old-world pastries like tart, flaky cherry strudel and Viennese sacher torte, chased with bottomless cups of American-style coffee. And while the lighting may be too dim to foster serious study, the cozy ambiance invites dawdling. The shop’s informal protocol hasn’t changed for decades: Place your order at the front counter, whether buying tiramisu to go or staying all day. If you're going, they'll wrap up your order in a box and tie it with string. If you're staying, they'll take your name and bring the order to you. In fine weather, look for a spot at a sidewalk table outside—less than ideal for exam-cramming, but perfect for an afternoon Gauloise or for musing over St. John the Divine’s sky-reaching spires and cool green garden. While the cafe’s charms shine brighter than some of the pastries—mousse cakes are oversweet, cream puffs, too heavy—a wide list of specialty coffees is sure to tempt even the sweet-averse to this tucked-away souvenir of Mitteleuropa.