The Best Restaurants On The Upper East Side
The greatest hits of the Upper East Side.
Some of the best things about the Upper East Side have been around for decades. For example, a classic burger spot with green-checkered tablecloths, all the neighborhood places Kermit and his pals went to in The Muppets Take Manhattan, and the ghosts who haunt The Met. But, just like shiny Q train subway stations and the babies born at Mt. Sinai, there are a lot of novel things improving the neighborhood. From French fine dining establishments and sushi omakase experiences to revamped Italian spots and some of the best ceviche in the city, consider this the Upper East Side's greatest hits.
Great sushi restaurants serve fish that tastes so distractingly delicious you might forget your own phone number–but the best ones account for all of your senses. A night at Sushi Noz is as much about the room’s cypress smoke filling your nostrils as it is about the nigiri parading into your stomach. You’ll sit with six fellow spectators at a sushi bar in a wooden room that smells like a candle named The Grove of Ecstasy, and eat things like uni flown in from Hokkaido and eel that's been smoked over bamboo leaves. We know it’s pricey, but dinner here is worth the cost if you’re interested in trying one of the city’s best sushi omakase meals.
There’s a lot of good Thai food on the UES, but the first place we send anyone who regularly utters the words “Thai spicy, please” is Zabb PuTawn. This Northern Thai restaurant opened after the head Chef’s popular Queens restaurant Zabb Elee closed, and he’s now gifted the UES with some of the best goong chae num pla and gaeng om in Manhattan. They’ve spruced up the simple, narrow space over the years with a shiny gold ceiling and bright yellow wallpaper, but this place would still be buzzing and full of regulars without any of that. All the ambience it needs comes from the spice-induced sniffles around the room.
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Daniel You can’t really debate the best Upper East Side restaurants without at least mentioning Daniel. Yes, this is a stuffy and expensive French fine dining establishment possessing its own Wikipedia page. But a meal here is also one of the best fine dining experiences you can have in the city. In addition to their $255 seven-course tasting menu, Daniel is currently offering a new prix-fixe menu that focuses on food from the South Of France. A hack: in case you’re looking for a special meal that’s a smidge more relaxed than what happens in the main dining room, you can order a la carte dishes in the lounge.
This East 70s Peruvian restaurant opened in 2019, making it one of the newer additions to the busy stretch of restaurants on 2nd Avenue. Mission Ceviche specializes in seafood and cocktails, like a classic white fish ceviche bathing in a zippy leche de tigre and a number of takes on the traditional pisco sour. Plus, there are plenty of options for anyone who wants to share, including their lomo saltado and large-format cocktails. The dining room, with its wrap-around bar and neon sign that reads “Tiger Milk Effect,” gets as busy as a club. If you’re seeking a slightly calmer energy, you can sit on the lush, plant-decorated sidewalk patio.
Say you’re looking for the kind of UES night that involves long crunchy breadsticks and overhearing people argue in Italian over many glasses of red wine. You can’t do better than Sandro’s. Between the Roman pastas and lemony veal scallopini, and the friendly servers walking around pouring everyone grappa, remember this place the next time you’re having a bad day. The bucatini amatriciana should help.
J.G. Melon’s burger is iconic. It’s griddled and crispy on the outside, peachy pink and soft in the middle, and apparently, it’s Gigi Hadid’s favorite burger in the entire city (rightfully so, Gigi). If you haven't been, there are a few things you should know: it will inevitably be crowded, you need to drink beers by the bottle (draught beers here are small and often flat), and the service will not be friendly. But this is a New York institution that's been serving burgers since TGI Friday's was nothing more than a swinging singles bar down the street. Their burger is a simple classic that you’ll think about every time you need a cheap lunch near the Met or feel overwhelmingly sad, happy, or drunk.
Bohemian Spirit is a Czech restaurant on the first floor of the National Bohemian Hall building, so you can imagine the level of Czech pride in the place. Black and white portraits of everyone from iconic figure skater Aja Zanova to the owner's family grace the walls and you’ll hear people singing old drinking songs near the bar. Sit outside and you can easily pretend you’re drinking your beer in Prague—especially once you have their crispy, crusty fried cheese and roast beef with a creamy orange svickova sauce on the table.
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Few places in New York will transport you out of the city as quickly and thoroughly as Cafe Sabarsky. This Viennese cafe in the Neue Galerie is not only the perfect setting to play out your academic cosplay dreams, the food is also some of the best on the Upper East Side. Sabarsky is well known for their exemplary sachertorte and apfelstrudel, but you can also experience delights like bavarian sausages served with soft pretzels and the best weiner schnitzel in the five boroughs.
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Moti Mahal Delux
MotMoti Mahal Delux is specifically known for their incredible murgh makhani butter chicken - it’s rich, cooked in a clay oven, and eating it will probably make you want to lie down for several hours. Moti Mahal Delux is the first US franchise of a massive restaurant chain originating from New Delhi, and you’ll see a loyal following pack their UES dining room every night. You can have a nice date here—it’s a sleek space and conversation hums along around you like a pleasant noise machine—but we like to take advantage of the spacious dining room and bring a small group to share crab masala and murgh makhani.
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Uva is the best choice if you’re looking for an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood that doesn’t feel like you’ve broken into a diplomat’s house. The simple pastas and cured meats consistently impress, and their enclosed back garden happens to be one of the most ideal settings for a date in the city. The next time you want to appear classy without looking like you’re trying too hard, this is where you should go to eat mezzaluna filled with prosciutto and mozzarella, Emilia-Romagna style focaccia, and plates of fried baby artichokes. Uva also took over the restaurant space next door in 2021 (aptly called Uva Next Door) with even more seating and an additional menu of cocktails and pizza.
photo credit: Lashevet
Is it possible to scientifically prove that something is delicious? Apparently not, but you can eat Middle Eastern food that was both conceived by a food scientist (turned restaurateur), and is also delicious, at Lashevet. We love stumbling upon this charming little spot just when we’d forgotten about it and having a spontaneous cup of Turkish coffee under their kaleidoscopic Moroccan lamps. They change their menu from fully vegetarian cafe fare during the day to a meat-heavy dinner menu in the evening, with influences from Israeli, Lebanese, and Moroccan cuisine.
An upscale Greek restaurant on York Avenue that dates, your niece, and potato lovers all generally approve of. Not to mention, our absolute favorite Greek spot in the neighborhood (and one of the best in the whole city). Order the zucchini chips, lamb souvlaki, and anything that comes with a side of Greek potatoes—they’re lemony and inexplicably soft. We’d just suggest saving Yefsi for dinners where you’re comfortable spending about $50 per person. The seafood and meat entrees are expensive, but especially good for sharing.
JojoJoJo used to be a formal Jean-Georges French restaurant. It got a makeover, though, and reopened as a more modern, two-story restaurant in a townhouse on 64th Street (still run by the same team). The menu leans heavily on seasonal produce and classic farm-to-table combinations, like endive and snap pea salad, sea bass with chanterelles, and our favorite roast chicken in the entire neighborhood. Come here for a date or when you’re looking for a cool uptown spot now that Flora Bar has (sadly) closed.
Vietnaam is a neighborhood standby near 86th Street on the UES. The space has a massive dining room and most things on the menu cost between $15-20, which makes it useful for a casual group dinner in the area. We especially like to order their crispy nem filled with shrimp, pork, taro, and jicama, as well as a comforting bowl of spicy beef phở with eye of round, brisket, and beef balls (for more great pho in the neighborhood, check out Pho Shop). If it’s nice out, try to get a table on their sidewalk.
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The UES has its fair share of incredible places to have a sushi omakase experience. Tanoshi is yet another one, but it stands out because of its BYOB policy. Their omakase costs $105, and comes with 10 pieces of excellent fish, a handroll, three small maki rolls, and an open forum to drink whatever you want by yourself or with a date. The space at Tanoshi is tight—it’s actually two narrow dining rooms built around a residential hallway—but as you get into your omakase, you’ll quickly forget about your surroundings.
Ravagh Persian Grill
Ravagh Persian Grill on 1st Avenue makes some of our favorite Persian food in the city, including perfectly grilled kebabs and stews like chunky, bean-laden ghormeh sabzi and khoresh fesenjan served with crushed walnuts. Rely on this casual two-story restaurant any time you’re looking for a low-key, rice-forward, and comforting meal, since the portions are large and the setting stays fairly quiet.
QuatorzeThere are a lot of Upper East Side archetypes (SoulCycle moms, drunk people in polo shirts at Dorrian's), but our personal favorite is people who are three martinis deep. Come to Quatorze to observe this last group in its natural habitat. Quatorze is the kind of place you order the same thing every time—for us, it's always the goat cheese salad and half chicken with french fries, both perfectly simple and satisfying. The prices are steep, but in this area, paying $6 more than you should for a chicken is kind of part of what you signed up for. Charming as the art deco posters and Parisian vibes are, this isn't a First/Early In The Game Spot, but it is definitely a shoe-in on the Dinner With The Parents shortlist.
Heidi's House By The Side Of The Road
If you live near Heidi’s House By The Side Of The Road, it might already be your second home. Maybe you even call it “(your name)’s House By The Side Of The Road.” This place is the most reliable spot in the East 70s for a solo dinner or casual catch-up involving some wine, a juicy burger, and perfectly crispy mac and cheese. If you want to prove to someone that you know the best under-the-radar spots in the neighborhood, bring them here.