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Best for a big cut of meat: White Gold Butchers
375 Amsterdam Avenue
Chef April Bloomfield’s butcher shop/restaurant boasts an all-female crew that breaks down whole animals (raised in upstate New York specifically for White Gold) into steaks and chops, served both raw at the counter (to cook at home) and plated in the restaurant. Stop by in the morning for egg, cheese, and meat breakfast sandwiches; after 12pm for savory pasties stuffed with red wine-braised beef; and for dinner, when a deceptively simple plate of beef and peppers may be one of the best pieces of meat you’ve ever had.
Best for sit-down Jewish fare: Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Avenue
Doling out lox, schmear, and chopped liver for 100 years, this not-quite-Kosher Jewish deli is an Upper West Side mainstay. You can order everything from sturgeon sandwiches and lox scrambles to eat at the often-packed formica tables, but those without time to sit down can also grab a dozen bagels and babka to go.
Best for a booze-soaking brunch: Maison Pickle
A sister restaurant to comfort-food haven Jacob’s Pickles, the slightly more gussied-up Maison Pickle focuses on classic French dip sandwiches (there are five varieties on the menu, each oozing with jus and fondue or aioli on a house-baked roll) in addition to other hangover cures like fried chicken and pancakes (or more standard waffles) and mac & cheese.
Best for easy French fare: Nice Matin
201 E. 79th Street
Just steps from the American Museum of Natural History, this laid-back French bistro is place to hit when you’re looking for an easy and reliably good dinner. Choose from hors d’oeuvres like escargot and tomato toast and hearty, elegant entrees like steak frites and chicken paillard. The best deal is the set menu, which includes an appetizer, meat, and dessert for $42.
Best for a giant chocolate chunk cookie: Levain Bakery
167 W. 74th Street & 351 Amsterdam Avenue
Two friends’ mission to bake the greatest chocolate chip cookie known to New York City led to well, the greatest chocolate chip cookie in New York City -- served steaming hot, melty, and gooey in the middle and studded with walnuts for extra bite. Eating this half-pounder in one sitting isn’t difficult, but bring a friend so you can share other cookie flavors.
Best for a quick, cheap hot dog: Gray's Papaya
The only Gray’s Papaya left in New York City, this iconic, banana-yellow stand lets you scarf down cheap hot dogs while you wait for the 2 train. The famed Recession Special (for $4.45) includes two franks (sauerkraut optional) and a sugary fruit drink served in a signature styrofoam cup.
Best for 2am baked ziti: Big Nick's
70 W. 71st Street
If you need some cheesy carbs to soak up all the beers you drank at the string of collegiate bars on Amsterdam Avenue, look no further than this just-grungy-enough diner slinging out pasta-topped slices of pizza until 4am. Stumble into a plastic seat, order one last pitcher of cheap beer, and indulge in the multi-page menu of pies, baked pastas, Greek dishes, and breakfast.
Best for oyster happy hour: Mermaid Inn
570 Amsterdam Avenue
This nautical happy-hour haunt fills up just before 5pm, when East Coast oysters go for $1 a pop, along with $5 beers, $7 wines, and $8 cocktails until 7pm. If you’re not too concerned about getting a deal, stay after dark to indulge in grand platters of clams and crudo, as well as a selection of West Coast oysters.
Best for mole and mezcal: Cafe Frida
368 Columbus Avenue
One of the city’s original upscale Mexican destinations, Cafe Frida offers an extensive list of agave-based spirits (tequila and mezcal) alongside platters of mole-doused chicken and beer-braised lamb barbacoa tacos. There’s also a dedicated vegan menu, ranging from elote with pumpkin-hemp cheese to a quinoa-stuffed chile relleno.
Best for build-your-own Benedicts at brunch: Tessa
349 Amsterdam Avenue
While you could go the avocado-toast route (it’s spiced with harissa and made tangy with preserved lemon), the standout at this Italian-Spanish-French restaurant is the build-your-own Bennie menu, that lets brunchers choose a base (potatoes, English muffins, or deep-fried arancini), sauce (several flavors of hollandaise) and topping (think pork belly, lobster, and lump crab) to dress up their poached eggs.
Best for to-go Jewish fare: Zabar’s
Good for much more than your grandmother’s weekly grocery shopping, this supermarket-homewares store-cafe combo is your one stop for all Jewish delights. Load up on challahs, matzo ball soup by the quart, freshly sliced lox by the pound, and all the rugelach and babka your kitchen can handle.
Best for red-sauce dishes: Parm
235 Columbus Avenue
A massive sibling to the SoHo joint of the same name, this red-and-white-checkered Italian-American spot is your go-to for a modern take on a classic chicken Parm (or a vegetarian-friendly eggplant Parm), best paired with a side order of pasta in a Calabrian chili-spiked sauce.
Best for Chinatown-style dim sum: Jing Fong
360 Amsterdam Avenue
An offshoot of Chinatown’s famed dim-sum emporium, Jing Fong’s smaller, second location uptown offers a pared-down selection of handmade dumplings and savory steamed treats. Fill up on pork, shrimp, and peanut dumplings along with larger entrees and vegetable-centric sides while sipping Asian-inspired craft cocktails.
Best for cozy but upscale comfort food: The Ribbon
20 W. 72nd Street
This dim-lit New American institution invites you (and probably your parents) to luxuriate in a leather banquettes for shareable plates like fancy deviled eggs topped with trout roe, homemade pate, and Buffalo-style cauliflower. Making a meal out of the wide range of appetizers wouldn’t be a mistake, but if you need a heavy plate to feel like you ate a meal, choose from a range of spit-roasted meats, or on Sunday and Monday nights, fried chicken.
Best for a vegetarian Indian feast: Saravana Bhavan
413 Amsterdam Avenue
The Upper West Side has a serious lack of curry and tandoori, which is why this mini-chain (with another location in Curry Hill), should be your neighborhood go-to. Enlist a server to help you navigate the menu of over 100 types of finger foods, dosa, and curries for a set “business meal,” which offers a taste of multiple veg-friendly menu options all on one tray.
Best for fancy bar snacks and cocktails: The Fat Monk
949 Columbus Avenue
Though the menu at this gastropub may seem all over the place (think Mediterranean with hints of Asian and New American), it’s full of Inventive dishes like lobster gyros, crab tater tots, and crispy duck wings pair extremely well with an extensive beer and wine list, plus cocktails made from house-infused spirits.
Best for dan dan noodles: Han Dynasty
215 W. 85th St
A Philadelphia (and, subsequently, East Village) export, Han Dynasty’s Uptown outpost is much more spacious, but boasts the same ultra-spicy Szechuan fare. You’re here for the dan dan noodles, bouncy and coated in ground pork and served with as much chili oil as your tongue can handle.
Best for splurge-worthy sushi: Sushi of Gari
370 Columbus Avenue
If you’re willing to spend, Sushi of Gari is your best bet for fresh sushi on the UWS. You’re not getting your standard three-roll combo here, but rather maki stuffed with crab stick, avocado, and smelt fish roe and sushi pieces brushed with homemade sauces and glazes. The best deal here may be the $29 Sushi Regular, which includes eight pieces of sushi, a piece of bluefin tuna, and your choice of roll.
Best for fancy Chinese with New York flare: RedFarm
An offshoot of the popular West Village restaurant doling out modern Chinese food, RedFarm is heavy on New York influences, from bacon and egg fried rice to the popular Pac-Man-shaped shrimp dumplings. Still, don’t overlook some of the simpler sounding dishes that provide equal amounts of comfort, like sautéed snow peas with garlic or three chili chicken.
1. RedFarm2170 Broadway, New York
2. Absolute Bagels2788 Broadway, New York
3. Barney Greengrass541 Amsterdam Ave, New York
4. Fred's Restaurant476 Amsterdam Ave, New York
5. Bustan487 Amsterdam Ave, New York
6. Island Burgers & Shakes422 Amsterdam Ave, New York
7. Masa10 Columbus Circle, New York
8. Sushi Yasaka251 W 72nd St, New York
9. Awadh2588 Broadway, New York
10. Nice Matin201 West 79th St, New York
11. Per Se10 Columbus Circle, New York
12. Telepan72 W 69th St, New York
13. Jean-Georges1 Central Park W, New York
14. Boulud Sud & Epicerie Boulud20 W 64th St, New York
Ed Schoenfeld's Upper West Side outpost of his West Village original serves the same modern takes on family-style Chinese food in a rustic farmhouse-like space. The super-charged dim sum menu features only-in-New-York plates like egg rolls made with Katz's pastrami. Main dishes run the gamut from roasted duck noodles and fried rice to BBQ pork belly and Peking duck. RedFarm is a bit pricey for Chinese food, but the upscale ambience is worth it.
For the best bagels above 100th Street, look no further than this Thai-owned bagelry a few blocks south of Columbia. Absolute greets visitors with a Jenga-esque stack of freshly baked, palm-sized bagels with soft dough, a slightly crusty exterior, and mild sweetness. Service is quick, prices are cheap, and cream cheese is applied generously.
Open since 1908, this family-run Jewish deli and appetizing store hasn't changed much in the last century -- and that's a good thing. If Katz's is known for its pastrami, then Barney Greengrass is known for its smoked fish. Come for the sturgeon scrambled eggs and bagel with lox, stay for the potato latkes and cheese blintzes. There's guaranteed to be a wait on Saturday and Sunday mornings at prime brunch time, but it's worth it.
This Upper West Side institution is known for its enticing brunch options, as well as its quirky canine-themed decor. Guests can enjoy an on-the-house bread basket (highlighting a rotating menu of baked goods alongside house-made spreads), generous entree portions, and a number of cocktails -- all while starting at a glamorous photo of some lucky New Yorker's French bull terrier.
Israeli and North African influence come together in a multicultural approach to dining and drinking at the Upper West Side's Bustan. Each meal at this eclectic restaurant begins with steaming, seasoned taboon bread, and the dishes that follow are packed with global flavor and great ingredients, from creamy hummus to fish so fresh it seems surprised to be there. The long booths are cozy, and the colorful decor makes you feel like you’re in some sort of Mediterranean-themed fever dream you'll want to lucidly return to time and again.
Island Burgers & Shakes serves some of the most inventive patties on the UWS. Stop in for large, juicy burgers made to order, and choose from a long list of toppings (fan favorites include crunchy pickles, crispy bacon, and the sautéed onions). The French fries ($4, ordered separately) are lightly dusted in starch mix before being fried, making them ultra-crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
If you'd like to see what makes a meal worth most people's monthly rent, head to Masa. Masayoshi Takayama, chef and owner of this New York City sushi standard, manifests perfection in fresh fish dishes prepared with hyper-conscious attention to flavor interactions and plating techniques. Posted up in the Time Warner Center, you'll forget the bustle of Columbus Circle and the mall crowd below as you indulge on delicate nigiri and mackerel of the highest echelon.
This casual and affordable UWS sushi joint is known for doling out super-fresh, high-quality fish daily. Opt for the mini omakase (at just $24) to get a taste of the chef's freshest, most unique picks (you'll be hard pressed to find any omakase for that price elsewhere in NYC).
Awadh brings authentic Northern indian cuisine to Manhattan Valley, from an attractive two-level restaurant on Broadway. The Khaas Korma (spiced chicken tikka) is incredibly moist and the Bhindi do Pyas (crispy okra, only available onsite - not for takeout!) gets rave reviews.
This French, white-tableclothed, UWS restaurant draws in regular crowds for its weekend brunch service. As for dinner, you might be tempted to go for one of the classic entrees like the duck breast, steak frites, or grilled octopus, but the 5 Napkin Burger is the right pick. Don't believe us? The dish was so good the owners started a chain devoted to the delicacy. Yeah... THAT 5 Napkin Burger.
Per Se, looming over Columbus Circle since 2004, has grown to become synonymous with haute French-American fine dining. It’s all one would expect from Chef Thomas Keller, the man responsible for internationally lauded French Laundry —widely considered to be America’s best restaurant. In the most formal of dining rooms, a straight-laced and buttoned-up staff serve refined and extravagantly plated (and priced) nine-course contemporary tasting menus that entice the eye as much as the palate. No single dish has elicited more gasps of delight than his signature starter: warm oysters and a scoop of caviar in a savory tapioca pudding. In the time since its peak, critical applause has wained somewhat, but Per Se remains emblematic of haute, and costly, dining in the city, nonetheless.
Taking over two restored townhouses, this upscale eatery delivers the quintessential farm-to-table experience: a fancy-yet-comfortable setting with precisely prepared seasonal vegetables alongside fresh seafood and meat dishes using locally supplied ingredients. Your move here: order the three- or four-course pre-fixe (a solid deal) and an offbeat gem from the eclectic wine list.
There are plenty of fine dining opportunities in New York City, but none of them can compare to Jean-Georges. Since its opening to critical acclaim in 1997, Jean-Georges has been known for its beautifully crafted dishes that blend French, American, and Asian cultural influences. The menu here changes seasonally and is created with locally sourced ingredients to ensure that every visitor can enjoy a truly exceptional meal.
Setting up side-by-side, these two new Boulud-staurants are taking very different approaches: EB's a dine in/take out market with copious charcuterie, Saxelby-curated cheeses, sandwiches, and an oyster bar, while Sud's an upscale Mediterranean concept boa