Mel's Burger Bar 2850 Broadway 110th and 111th sts.
Upper West Side
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Mel's Burger Bar:
They say the college years are the best of your life (woo hoo no parents!) but a move to the big city can be overwhelming—laundromats, grocery delivery, Asian fusion?!? Columbia co-eds and other small-townie ex-pats can now find respite from all this new-fangled heterogeneity at Mel's Burger Bar in Morningside Heights. Mel's old-fashioned burger joint is inspired by Anywhere, America, blending elements of country-western (rough wooden walls and tables) with a '50s-style diner (red vinyl benches, light-bulb signage). Slurp on a comforting ice cream shake, but get it spiked with Jack Daniels—hey, no parents!—in the Tennessee Jed ($11). Or get better acquainted with your new municipality by sampling a few of the 16 mostly-local beers on tap (try the Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner). Standard burger-and-fries combos should cure any remaining homesickness—at least until the check comes, where Ivy League prices quickly remind you that you ain't in Kansas anymore.