Oh, Upper West Side — after viewing you for many years through the eyes of Seinfeld, George, Elaine, and Kramer, I think it's fair to say that us New Yorkers have grown to absolutely adore you. Whether it’s your classic architecture or proximity to Central Park, you never cease to amaze and amuse us.
Besides, of course, Tom’s Restaurant on Broadway, the UWS is home to many other great eats! Hosting an eclectic mix of foods, from sizzling fried chicken to fresh oysters, the neighborhood boasts all cuisines, so you better believe that you won’t leave this side of town with an empty stomach.
Without further ado, read on and check out our top picks for the tastiest spots in this historic uptown neighborhood.
When Jacob's Pickles burned down last year, desperate brunch-goers worried about where they'd get their biscuit sandwich fix. They didn't need to panic. Its sister restaurant, Maison Pickle, began quietly serving up the brunch menu on weekends. But even with Jacob's Pickles finally, blessedly reopened, there's still reason to visit the sibling spot. And there's two words why: French dip. Whether you go classic, royale (with foie gras), or with lamb or pork, you'll get a healthy side of homemade jus to for the aforementioned dipping. Bring your appetite, and leave with a whole new appreciation for gravy in all its beautiful forms.
, 2315 Broadway (at 84th Street); 212-496-9100.
Xi'an Famous Foods
Xi'an Famous Foods started as a food stall in a basement of a Flushing shopping mall and now includes locations throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. The hand-pulled noodles are not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy spicy food, it's a must-try. While you can fill up for under $10, don't think cheap means cutting corners – signs warn you that the noodles are best eaten while still hot. The "burgers," made from stewed meat and served on grilled flatbread, are another delicious option that will ring you up less than $5.
Xi'an Famous Foods
, 2675 Broadway (at 102 Street); no phone.
For whatever reason the Upper West Side's best vegan restaurants all seem to be clustered within a few blocks in the 80s. The furthest west of these is Candle West, right off Broadway. The third outpost of Candle Cafe Hospitality, its designed to be a mix of the other two locations on the east side: halfway between the sit-down fine-dining of Candle 79 and the more relaxed cafe vibe of the original Candle Cafe. Don't let the fact that its vegan have you imagining all austere health foods — there's plenty from nachos to veggie burgers that feels indulgent, as well as a full bar.
, 2427 Broadway (at 89th Street); 212-769-8900.
White Gold Butchers
April Bloomfield's UWS butchers' shop is a NYC dual-dining trifecta; meat market and casual eatery by day turned white-cloth meal hot spot by night. And if you aren't in the mood for a cut of ribeye or a swankier sit down affair, be sure to at least drop by and pick up one of the serious sandwiches. White Gold's take on a classic chopped cheese, served on a Bronx-baked poppyseed roll with jalapeños and pickles, is
to be missed.
White Gold Butchers
, 375 Amsterdam Avenue (between W. 77th and 78th Streets); 212-362-8731.
Photo: Courtesy of Calle Ocho.
In the lobby of the Excelsior Hotel, across from the Museum of Natural History, next to the Central Park-facing doorman buildings, isn't exactly where you expect to find a restaurant like Calle Ocho. In fact, it would be more at home in Miami — and that's exactly what they're going for. If New York skies are feeling a little grey, just a glance inside at their brightly-colored interiors will lift your spirit. Get your complimentary basket of pandebono (a kind of Colombian cheese bread), order a glass (or two) of sangria, and you'll be halfway to Little Havana, if only in your mind.
, 45 W 81st St (between Columbus and Central Park West); 212-873-5025.
One day, we will be able to afford dinner at Daniel. Until then, there's Bar Bouloud, the casual eatery from the man who gives both establishments their names, Daniel Boulud. Pre-fixe and à la carte options make it the perfect spot for a lazy lunch or dinner or a quick bite before a show at Lincoln Center. Charcuterie platters that go well beyond a typical spread of cured sausage (like rabbit terrine) are the perfect hearty pre-show snack.
, 1900 Broadway (at 64th Street); 212-595-0303.
All hail Shake Shack, patron saint of the fast food burger that doesn't suck. It's also the perfect place to pop in for a quick lunch before or after visiting the Natural History Museum, something you (or your visiting family) will want to do at least once. It stays pretty chaotic around here (proximity to schools and dinosaur skeletons ensure this), but it's also just a block walk to Central Park, where you can stretch out and enjoy your cheese fries in peace.
, 366 Columbus Avenue (at 77th Street); 646-747-8770.
It doesn't get more old-school Upper West Side than Barney Greengrass. Opened in 1908, the owner has even claimed that brunch was started here. Covered in pictures of notables who have stopped by to dine, dry goods for sale, and the iconic Greengrass character, it's a lot like stepping back in time. There's really only one way to go here, and that's a bagel with lox. There are a few to choose from, but we especially love the pastrami lox piled high with onions, tomato, and cream cheese on an everything bagel from H&H.
542 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 86 and West 87 Street); 212-724-4707.
In and around Columbia University is a good place to track down cheap, filling, and delicious food. At Saiguette, there's no ambiance and hardly any seating room — but there are massive banh mi sandwiches that will fill you up for just northward of $10 (and can easily last you two meals). Their bread and butter here is delivery, and if you're lucky enough to live in the delivery range, you can expect hot, fast food with no fee. And while the phrase "not on Seamless" strikes fear into the hearts of millennials, both phone lines are reliably busy at dinner time.
, 935 Columbus Avenue (at West 106 Street); 212-866-8886, 212-866-6888.
Land Thai Kitchen
With plenty of Thai spots sprinkling Manhattan's streets, a true gem can sometimes be hard to find. But when on the UWS, look no further than Land Thai — this narrow eatery is no frills and all flavor. Pop in for lunch or dinner, you'll be more than delighted to find the kitchen pumping our hot plates of drunken noodles, spicy green curries, and savory stir fried beef. The lychee margaritas aren't too bad either.
Land Thai Kitchen
, 450 Amsterdam Avenue (at W. 82nd Street); 212-501-8121.
It's a very New York problem that the impeccable Porter House isn't even the best restaurant in the building. That honor would go to the much-fêted Per Se, on the same floor. Here, however, you can forego multi-course meals in favor of something a little more attainable (and affordable): straightforward steakhouse fare where the high-quality ingredients, from the cuts of meat to the chocolate in the molten lava cake, really are given space to shine. It's a perfect spot to keep filed under "when the parents are coming to town" list, but Porter House's lunch menu is one of the Upper West Side's best kept secrets: for $35, you can get a three-course meal that will make you feel right at home with the ladies who lunch on your "ladies who work through lunch" budget.
, 10 Columbus Circle (in the Shops at Columbus Circle); 212-823-9500.
Thanks to Seamless, your next pad se ew fix is never more than a few clicks away. But not all Thai is created equal. Forget the greasy, bland stuff you may have become accustomed to, at THAIMarket, even takeout standbys get new life thanks to fresh, flavorful ingredients. Wander off the beaten path of curries and rice noodles, and you may even discover a new favorite dish, like their fried catfish or sliced duck.
, 960 Amsterdam Ave (between 107th and 108th street); 212-280-4575.
Step off Amsterdam and into the beach hut of your dreams, where guacamole is plenty and unlimited mimosas are $16 at brunch. At Playa Betty's, it can be easy to forget that the Upper West Side, not the perfect wave, await you back outside. Big, bright, and with a dedicated kid's menu, it's as much a family-friendly spot as it is a place to dish over last night's escapades with a frozen Paloma (or two). But the tasty grain bowls, tacos, and, yes, guac, are delicious at any age.
, 320 Amsterdam Avenue (at 75th St); 212-712 - 0777.
The second NYC location of the Philadelphia-based Chinese chain is different from the first location in the East Village in one way: there's way more space. Other than that, it's the same menu of delicious (and occasionally very spicy ) Sichuan staples that New Yorkers have come to know and love. Dishes are served family-style and are reasonably priced, making it a good spot for group dinners (or just big appetites). Dumpling in chili oil, spicy crispy cucumbers, and dry fry style chicken are all good bets for people willing to brave a little spice.
, 215 W 85th Street (at Broadway); 212-858-9060.
RedFarm Another downtown classic with an uptown outpost, RedFarm's second location was opened in 2014. In case PacMan dumplings and pastrami egg rolls have lost their luster, we recommend stopping by for the specials alone. In the winter, you may find truffle-flecked soup dumplings for the Chinese New Year. In the spring, tempura soft-shell crab, sweet and meaty, might appear. RedFarm, 2170 Broadway (between 76th and 77th streets); 212-724-9700.
If you're into Greek food and you happen to find yourself on the UWS, then Kefi's your place. This straightforward spot offers a whole slew of traditional and well-priced fare in sharp but uncomplicated digs. Be sure to order the grilled octopus and bean salad as well as the braised rabbit pasta with Graviera cheese — they're both fire.
, 505 Columbus Avenue (at West 84th Street); 212-873-0200.
The Mermaid Inn
The Mermaid Inn on the Upper West offers the neighborhood a quaint and comforting Cape Cod seafood-escape. The oysters are fresh and so are the deals (i.e. $1 oysters for Happy Hour). Not to mention the Mermaid fish tacos fried in a beer batter with red cabbage, pickled jalapeños, and some pico de gallo are also right on the money. So stop by for lunch, dinner, or even brunch — and scoop up an order of their shrimp and grits for good measure.
The Mermaid Inn
, 570 Amsterdam Avenue ( Between 87th and 88th Streets); 212-799-7400.
Although no Carbone, Carmine's on the UWS brings classic old-school red sauce joint vibes to an ever expanding, over-the-top, Manhattan Italian food scene. This white-cloth, family-style restaurant is an ideal spot for a cozy group dinner — the wine is always flowing and the massive plates of fried calamari and spaghetti pomodoro piping hot.
, 2450 Broadway (at W. 91st Street); 212-362-2200.
Community Food and Juice
Community Food and Juice is an uptown spot offering seasonally local and organic eats. Touted as specializing in "eclectic-American cuisine" this Upper West Sider serves up a wide range of unexpected meals. Share the edamame-ricotta dumplings with truffle soy vinaigrette and P.E.I. Mussels with steamed with white wine, butter, red Thai chilies, fresh basil, and tarragon for dinner. Or stop by for brunch and try the biscuit sandwich served with scrambled eggs, chicken-apple- sausage, and Cabot cheddar. Whatever the meal, it's sure to be a decadent mix.
Community Food and Juice
, 2893 Broadway (at 113th Street); 212- 665-2800.
We believe that bagels
be considered fine dining — and Absolute is here to serve as that hard evidence. An UWS boiled and baked dough institution, this shop boasts some of the fluffiest, chewiest, hand-rolled discs around. Not to mention the beautiful bounty of spreads and schmears have the masses traveling from afar. We'll just be uptown, enjoying a candlelit bagel dinner in the park.
, 2788 Broadway (at W. 108th Street); 212-932-2052.
Candle Cafe West
Looking for sleek and veggie-friendly eats on the UWS? Candle Cafe West is
spot. Not only does this restaurant ensure quality organic ingredients, but they also serve up artfully creative dishes and drinks. Start with the Candle Cocktail (carrot, celery, beet, mixed greens, and ginger) followed by a plate of the Spaghetti & Wheatballs.
Candle Cafe West
, 2427 Broadway (between 89th and 90th Street); 212- 769-8900.
Good Enough To Eat
Good Enough to Eat goes out to all the brunch lovers out there. Known for their stacked omelettes, waffles, and pancakes, this UWS spot takes the coffee cake for best in breakfast. Get there early or get ready to line up — because if it's good enough to eat, it's good enough to wait for.
Good Enough to Eat
, 520 Columbus Avenue (at 85th Street); 212-496-0163.
With a decor embodying the 1960’s, Lincoln Square Steak is
place to go for a charred to perfection steak with downright amazing sides.
Known for it’s attentive staff, you won't be leaving this steakhouse dissatisfied (or hungry). And be sure to arrive around 7p.m.— you wouldn’t want to miss the talented pianist that accompanies your dining experience.
Lincoln Square Steak
, 208 West 70th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue); 212- 875-8600.
The Ribbon hosts a wide variety of deliciousness — perfect for casual family fun or a rowdy Monday-night-football game. Whatever the occasion, you can sit and enjoy the company while munching on their famed fried chicken or beloved prime rib.
, 20 W. 72nd Street (between Columbus Avenue and Central Park W.); 212-787-5656.
Enjoy the Guacamole en Molcajete, prepared table-side in a lava-rock mortar. After you've had your fill, bask in the show-stopping modern ambiance that'll leave your eyes bigger than your stomach.
, 61 Columbus Avenue (at 9th Avenue); 212-977-7700.
Though it's filled to the brim with New Yorkers, you will surely ask yourself, “
Am I happy to be in Paris?
” upon arrival. Cafe Luxembourg is by far the top bistro on the UWS. Adorned with beautiful antiques and French delicacies, it's the perfect place for wine lovers who're also in the mood to grab a delicious bite (perhaps before the opera or post-ballet). Bon appétit!
, 200 W. 70th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue); 212-873-7411.
Hibachi, hibachi, hibachi (
) — calling all Upper West hibachi lovers. Flame is a hip bistro serving up Asian-fusion cuisine: plenty of sushi and, of course, hibachi. With a sleek modern interior, it's the perfect place for family and friends to convene on special sushi occasions.
, 100 W. 82nd Street (at Columbus Avenue); 646-870-0301.
If you've ever craved some great Italian food post-Museum of Natural History walking fatigue, Bellini is your restaurant refuge! A lovely and trendy Italian restaurant offering up amazing pasta dishes and brick-oven pizza. With enough space for groups, it's a comfortable UWS trip to Italy.
483 Columbus Avenue (at W. 83rd Street); 212-724-4615.
Ed's Chowder House
Located in the notable Empire Hotel, Ed’s Chowder House gives NYC seafood a whole new meaning. With a taste of the Eastern shore, they bring Upper West Siders some top-of-the-fishing-line dishes, from hot chowders to delightfully briny oysters. You'll be sure to feel casually lost at sea.
Ed's Chowder House
, 44 W. 63rd Street (at Columbus Avenue); 212-956-1288.