Because you definitely live in NYC for the easy access to cultural activities (right??), here are 11+ excellent eateries on the Upper West Side -- so you don't get hungry while lookin' at dinos in the Natural History Museum.
Best upscale Chinese: RedFarm
With exposed wooden beams and red-checkered booths, it’s decorated like the rustic farmhouse ideals of your youth. But then you grew up and watched some farming industry documentary on Netflix and your whole world crumbled for, like, two days before you remembered how much you love Katz's Pastrami Egg Rolls and ‘Pac Man’ Shrimp Dumplings.
Best bagels: Absolute Bagels
The fresh-baked bagels are soft and chewy with a slightly crusty exterior and the line will move way faster than you think it will. These are definitely some of the best bagels in the city, but we’ve also heard them referred to as the best bagels in the world, which is equally as hyperbolic as it is totally, totally reasonable.
Best old-school deli: Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Ave
This century-old spot is kind of like Katz’s Deli, but instead of waiting on line with 725 tourists for pastrami, you’re waiting on line with 725 locals for smoked fish.
Best dog decor: Fred's
476 Amsterdam Ave
The joint is papered with thousands of pictures of people's dogs, but oddly, your actual, real-life pup is not allowed. In a non-Olive Garden kind of way, when you're here it really does feel like family -- go once and you'll be recognized forever.
Best Mediterranean: Bustan
487 Amsterdam Ave
The generous portions of Israeli- and North African-influenced eats are cooked in an uncommon-for-NYC clay oven called a taboon. The long booths are cozy, and the ritzy, colorful decor makes you feel like you’re in some sort of Mediterranean-themed fever dream with really amazing flatbread.
Best sushi restaurant: Masa
The Shops at Columbus Circle, 10 Columbus Circle
Full disclosure: I’ve never actually eaten here, because a $400 meal is approximately a third of my rent (NYC HIGH RENT JOKE!). But, people I work with who are paid better than I have, and swear Chef Masayoshi Takayama's masterful omakase experience is incredible. The sparse, 26-person dining room is on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center, so it’s pretty much the best mall sushi in the world.
Best affordable sushi: Sushi Yasaka
251 W 72nd St
If you’re not on Wal-Mart’s board of directors, head to Sushi Yasaka for fresh cuts and pseudo-Japanese bamboo decor. Don’t feel bad, pauper.
Best Indian: Awadh
Expect more than chicken tikka masala (though they have that, too), because this is pretty much the only place in NYC that specializes in truly authentic Northern Indian Awadhi cuisine. Try the Mahi Musallam -- an entire fish cooked dum pukht-style in a heavy-bottomed, sealed pot over a low flame.
Best bistro: Nice Matin 201 W 79th St
It has the ambiance of a cheery lil’ Parisian cafe with the duck-heavy menu and 25lb wine book to match, but instead of being cramped, the tables are reasonably spaced out because this is America. Lincoln Center is a quick subway ride away, so it's a great option for last-minute reservations before Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana II: Navidad Flamenca when closer places are all booked up.
Best fancy restaurants: Per Se, Telepan, Jean-Georges, and Boulud Sud
We know that you know all of these upscale, super-sophisticated, and crazy-expensive dining establishments, which is why we lumped them in together, but they still must be mentioned. If you want the experience without giving up your first-born's college education, Jean-Georges may just have the best prix fixe lunch deal in town.
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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