Movin' On Up: Our Guide To The Newly Improved Upper UES

With a record-themed wine shop, an artisanal cocktail joint, and a haute cheese-inspired beer bar, the tippity-top spot of the Upper East Side is slowly becoming hip.
Some call it the Upper East Side, or the Upper-Upper East Side. For others, it’s Spanish Harlem or East Harlem. There’s also a whisper of (cringe) SpaHa — a newly-minted realtor’s term that can only forecast what’s in store for the neighborhood. (#hipsters) Call it what you will, the area around (and mostly above) the 96th Street subway stop is home to a host of hotspots that are making the longer commute cool. (Who would have ever thought those words would be uttered?) Click through our cheat-sheet for a few newbies — and some old standbys — to hit the ‘hood right.
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The Lexington Social

Craft cocktails on the cheap. Lexington Social is the neighborhood’s best-kept happy hour secret and the fanciest place to get your day drink on from 3 to 7 p.m. (4 to 7 p.m. on the weekends) — sangria, margaritas, and well drinks are under a five-spot, seven days a week. Speciality libations, like the Aztec Ruin, made with papaya and cucumber-infused tequila and fresh watermelon juice, or the Halley’s Comet, mixed with Maker's Mark, fresh blueberry jam, lemon and sage, are served in a cool coupes for sweet sipping.

The Lexington Social,1634 Lexington (between 103rd and 104th streets), 646-820-7013.

Photo: Courtesy of Lexington Social
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Earl's Beer & Cheese

Gather ‘round the communal table (fashioned from old bowling alley wood) and sip craft beers from a selection of cans or daily rotating drafts. (There are growlers if you’re extra thirsty.) Sure, this place is part beer bar, but it’s the food (as in the cheese-heavy eats) that reign supreme. Don’t miss the New York State Cheddar Sandwich, made with the sharp stuff, crispy pork belly, kimchi, and topped with a melt-y fried egg; or the Beer Cheese- — a warm and gooey mix of cheddar cheese and house lager, served with pungent garlic bread. Class it up with a can of Genny Light.

Earl’s Beer & Cheese, 1259 Park Avenue (at 97th Street); 212-289-1581.

Photo: Courtesy of Earl's Beer & Cheese
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Exposed brick walls, industrial communal tables, and (both!) a food and wine bar. The corner digs on 97th and Lex pays homage to the oenophile — as in the vino comes served by the glass, half-glass, bottle, half-bottle, and by volume at ABV. Every ounce pairs perfectly with the not-so-carefully curated (but works oh-so-well) menu. Chef Corey Cova gets his kicks from combining uptown and downtown ingredients. Think: A Fois Gras Fluffernutter Sandwich on Wonder Bread and Beef Tartare Pizza.

ABV, 1504 Lexington Avenue (at 97th Street); 212-722-8959.

Photo: Courtesy of ABV
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Guthrie Inn

An artisanal cocktail joint that rivals any downtown hotspot, sans (thankfully) the pretentiousness, hidden entrance, or suspenders-clad, mustachioed men. Belly up to the bar and sample the Guthrie Julep — a riff on the original with a touch of spiced rum and poured over plenty of crushed ice in an antique cocktail glass. The Moscow Mule, crafted with potato vodka, ginger beer, lime, and a fresh ginger kick, goes down too smoothly to drink only one. Cozy seating in the back is perfect for imbibing with a group.

Guthrie Inn, 1259 Park Avenue (Between 97th and 98th streets); 212-423-9900.

Photo: Courtesy of Guthrie Inn
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The London Candy Co.

Get your Brit fix on the Upper East Side. This bloody good sugar shop is home to 1,000-plus square feet of United Kingdom candy imports, and an ice cream bar serving the likes of Pimm’s Cup and Earl Grey varieties. But it’s the Stumptown Coffee bar inside the store that’s really uh, buzzed up the neighborhood.

The London Candy Co., 1442 Lexington Avenue (Between 93rd and 94th streets); 917-750-5378.

Photo: Courtesy of London Candy Co.
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Vinyl Wine

The decor screams more indie record shop than retail wine store. With over 1,000 vinyls lining the shelves, you’ll instantly feel like a cool kid perusing the two-hundred-plus bottles focused on organic and biodynamic wines. The owners are musicians (band-aid alert), so it’s not uncommon to find them plucking a banjo or tickling the ivories while shopping for your carefully curated vintage.

Vinyl Wine, 1491 Lexington Avenue (between 96th and 97th streets); 646- 370-4100.

Photo: Courtesy of Vinyl Wine
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Kitchen Arts & Letters

Only in New York City can you find a store that’s like porn for the foodie bookworm. Kitchen Arts & Letters has been in business over 25 years and is a cult favorite for celeb chefs and home cooks alike. Looking for a gift for your Dumpling-Obsessed-Pescatarian-But-Really-Into-David-Chang-Right- Now friend? It’s impossible to stump an employee here. They’ll find the perfect present for you (and wrap it up with a pretty bow, to boot) among their 13,000 title selection.

Kitchen Arts & Letters, 1435 Lexington Avenue (Between 93rd and 94th streets); 212-876-5550.

Photo: Courtesy of Kitchen Arts & Letters