The micro-micro-neighborhood centered around 70th Street and Columbus Avenue boasts upscale haunts and casual wine bars for private-practice doctors, ABC staffers, and Apple Bank employees, while the area’s cozy cafés cater to freelancers and thirtysomething stroller-pushers.
• Arte Café A standout for its amply portioned $9.95 lunch special, this Italian nook radiates charm with exposed brick and white linen. Savor old-school standbys like linguine alla vongole and chicken parm, or order à la carte favorites like silky beef carpaccio and a heaping bowl of mussels in a garlicky white-wine broth. 106 W. 73rd St., nr. Columbus Ave.; 212-501-7014.
• Alice’s Tea Cup This bustling Alice in Wonderland–themed salon offers over 100 teas, from aromatic Darjeelings to delicate white jasmines. Share the Mad Hatter, a towering tier of moist, dense scones, and sandwiches like Lapsang-smoked chicken with goat cheese. Alice’s delicacies are also available at the takeout counter, including their addictive red-velvet cupcakes. 102 W. 73rd St., nr. Columbus Ave.; 212-799-3006.
• Café Mozart Settle in with a complementary paper at this pleasant, wood-paneled spot that draws a busy noon crowd. Start with seven-grain toast with melted Gruyère and a soft egg, but leave room for mouthwatering desserts like linzer torte and airy tiramisu. 154 W. 70th St., nr. Broadway; 212-595-9797.
• Café Ronda Single diners are the mainstay of this Pan-Latin joint’s lunchtime business. Snag a window table, relax with a caipirinha cocktail, and people-watch as you chow down on spicy corn with creamy cotija cheese and a pressed Cubano with pickles and crispy fries. 249 Columbus Ave., nr. 71st St.; 212-579-9929.
• O-I-Shi-I Sushi at Ivy’s Café Grab impeccably fresh sashimi, inventive sushi rolls (especially salty ikura — salmon roe — and velvety toro), and plump pork buns at this unassuming Chinese-plus-sushi bar. Or try the garlic prawns — a favorite of Asian dignitaries, who dial for delivery from Ivy’s during U.N. stopovers. 154 W. 72nd St., nr. Broadway; 212-787-0165.
• Santa Fe The interior’s more spartan than a cubicle at this Tex-Mex joint, but luckily, the food travels well. Order gooey nacho pizza — smothered with ground beef and sour cream — or healthier fare like a grilled-fish wrap with guacamole and pepper jack. 73 W. 71st St., at Columbus Ave.; 212-724-0822.