Tom’s Restaurant is actually located beneath Columbia University’s Armstrong Hall, home of NASA’s Goddard Space Center (via WIkiCU), and has long been a popular spot with students. Columbia grad Meghan McCain told All Day Today that her father, Senator John McCain, was particularly fond of Toms. “That was my father’s favorite thing about Columbia—that it was at Tom’s Restaurant. He used to say to everyone, ‘Meghan and I ate at the ‘Seinfeld’ restaurant!’”
Barack Obama and his Columbia roommate Phil Boerner also frequented Tom’s while they were college students in the 1980s. Boerner told the New York Times, “We just went there for the breakfast special, two eggs and toast. It was about $1.99 and we lived off a ton of bagels.”
“Seinfeld” fans looking for a true Monk’s Cafe experience that goes beyond a photo in front of the iconic sign are sometimes disappointed in their visits to Tom’s. On the r/Seinfeld subreddit, u/Bartenderofthemind asked if any fans had eaten there, writing, “I went to Tom’s restaurant in NYC and was disappointed to see it wasn’t the same inside. Also, there aren’t any Seinfeld-themed dishes (like the big salad).” u/2slowam replied, “I have. Worst ‘turkey’ sandwich of my life.
Aside from disappointing sandwiches, Tom’s remains a popular destination for visiting fans, more than 30 years since Jerry and friends first sat down there for a tuna on rye.