Acquired Taste: Live Octopus With Timothy DeLaGhetto and Trevor Wallace
Best burger: P.J. Clarke’s
44 W 63rd St
While it might lack the historic charm of the original 55th St location, the P.J. Clarke's directly opposite Dante Park still serves up the best burger-and-beer combination within walking distance of Lincoln Center. Post up at the bar with a pint and a Cadillac burger, or share a trio of sliders with a fellow meat-lover -- the choice is yours!
Best pizza: Casabianca Pizzeria
503 W 57th St
Serving classic NY-style slices on grease-absorbing paper plates, Casabianca's your go-to for pizza and pizza-related foodstuffs (stromboli, garlic knots, etc.). There’s also a grilled chicken salad here that’ll blow your hair back, inasmuch as a person's hair can be blown back by a grilled chicken salad. Continue Reading
Best seafood: Atlantic Grill
49 W 64th St
This is actually a solid play for surf OR turf (try the grilled filet or the organic chicken), but unless you’re a diehard meatist, your move should be one of the fishier dishies. Opt for the shrimp dumplings, pan-roasted salmon, or seared bigeye tuna -- or, even better, go rogue with the six-piece sushi sampler.
Best Italian: Lincoln Ristorante
142 W 65th St
With its glass-walled dining room and open-kitchen format, this Lincoln-Center-adjacent restaurant lets you observe the chefs prepare your meal while passersby watch you observing them. It’s basically Inception, but with high-end pasta dishes and crispy pork cutlets instead of dream heists and BRAAAAM.
Best Mexican: Rosa Mexicano
61 Columbus Ave
The tableside guac preparation, pomegranate margaritas, chile relleno, and mahi-mahi tacos are all excellent reasons to hit up the UWS location of this modern Mexican chain, but its expansive tequila selection (75+ bottles!) might just be the ultimate deal-sealer. Just know that whatever you end up getting, you’ll be paying UWS prices for it.
Best cheap eats: La Dinastia
145 W 72nd St
Located right off the 1 train stop at 72nd St, La Dinastia combines Asian and Latin cuisine at a price point that’s tailor-made for the “I just blew my paycheck on these Nutcracker tickets” set. Menu highlights include the pot roast, the beef stew, the pork dumplings, and the fried chicken -- and of course, the portions are massive as well.
Best sandwiches: Parm
235 Columbus Ave
The UWS outpost of this beloved Italian shop serves up the same hearty semolina sammies as its Downtown forebear, from chicken francese to the eponymous Parm itself, served in roll, hero, or platter form. If you're up for something new, there's also the messy-yet-delicious Randy Levine sandwich: char siu pork, half-sour pickles, and spicy mustard on a garlic bread roll.
Best brunch: Cafe Luxembourg
200 W 70th St
This UWS spot gets packed during prime-time brunch hours, so reservations are a must. Once you’re actually in your seat, though, the maddening crowd is swiftly drowned out by lobster rolls, ricotta pancakes, and the kind of French onion soup you’d arm-wrestle your own mother for. Arm-wrestling your mom at the table isn’t the best look, though, so maybe just order two bowls of soup.
Best BYOB: Le Soleil
858 10th Ave
If you’ve never had Haitian food, this is the place to amend that glaring error: the fried goat, griot, and red snapper are all excellent, and there’s a rotating menu with special items for each day of the week. The milkshakes are on point as well, but the fact that you can bring your booze of choice to enjoy with your meal is what pushes this place over the top.
Best date spot: The Leopard at des Artistes
1 W 67th St
This classic New York establishment is built on the bones of the iconic Café des Artistes, and that history is a big part of why you’re going here: the walls feature the original restaurant’s famous murals, which set the tone and serve as great conversation starters. Of course, there's more to this place than reliving your favorite trenchant insights from My Dinner with Andre: the Southern Italian fare (like homemade pappardelle and three-meat tortellini) is some of the best in the city.