The Upper East Side is evolving. There are “cool” new restaurants and a few new subway stations that smell like fresh tennis balls and are decorated with Chuck Close paintings. There’s even a Shake Shack. And yet, in so many ways, this neighborhood remains exactly the same as it was 30 years ago. Some of the best things are the oldest things, including the people. Does Sean Connery have a place in the East Village? No he does not. So what are you even doing there?
Between one nine year resident of the neighborhood and two people who grew up here, Team Infatuation knows this area as well as anyone. That’s why we put together this complete list of all the Upper East Side restaurants that matter, all in one place. Consult it anytime you find yourself in the area, or just the next time you’re craving some expensive Italian food.
If you’re ready to drop some serious money on sushi, this is an excellent place to do so. Sushi of Gari is near the top of the list when it comes to high end sushi anywhere in this town, and the individual pieces of raw fish here come topped with things like seared tomato and quail eggs.
Seki and Gari are very similar – Chef Seki started at Sushi of Gari – but we like Seki the most because of the more laid-back environment and the fact that they’re open until 3 a.m. every single day but Sunday. So the next time you want sushi late-night and have forgotten that money is a real thing, come here and spend more than you should.
Legendary sandwiches, legendary cappuccino, excellent pasta, and even some gelato, all in one very expensive place. Via Quadronno is your best bet for lunch near the Met that won’t suck, but it’s also a great bet for a simple dinner with a friend.
The East Pole is from the same folk behind Fat Radish and Brinkley’s, and it’s one of the only places in this part of town with bartenders in waistcoats and a menu that features vegetables. Use it for date night or dinner with your parents, or just use it for a drink at the bar like we do from time to time. You’re even guaranteed to see some cougars in their natural habitat. Breathtaking.
Eastfield’s is another spot from the East Pole people, and it feels like the sort of place you’d find in Noho. It’s good-looking, there’s a vaguely nautical feel to the space, and it should appeal to anyone that likes The Smith. The menu isn’t quite as big the one at The Smith, but there are still plenty of options (from a burger to a kale/quinoa macro bowl). This is a good choice for a date night when you’re looking for a spot that has decent cocktails and good vibes (and it also works for brunch).
Whether it be for lunch, brunch, or to watch a “football” game at 7 a.m. with all the other healthy people of the Upper East Side, Jones Wood Foundry is one of our favorites. The food is good, the people are friendly, and most importantly, it’s casual and easy. Pull up a seat and do your best not to call it soccer.
The Milton is a pub, but it’s a nice one, and your mom would probably even like it. Mostly, they do food like wings and fish & chips, but they also have salmon and a kale salad (and the salad is actually not bad). Stop by and have a beer or cocktail while you watch some sports, or bring the kids for brunch. This place is versatile, and it’s a good spot to have in your back pocket.
Want to eat something that’s moderately healthy but also not as saddening as a salad in a plastic container? Try Blake Lane. Here, you can get a bowl of roasted vegetables, a watermelon salad, or some toast with avocado or cashew butter. The dining room gets a little cramped, and it isn’t super vibey, but this a good place for lunch or a quick solo dinner at the bar.
Is this the best restaurant on the Upper East Side? If you’re looking for Italian food in an environment that doesn’t like your grandma’s house, it probably is. Bring a date, and don’t propose, because that would be too obvious.
Amali is a great Mediterranean restaurant on 60th Street, right near Bloomingdales and Barneys and probably whatever other shopping destination brought you to this part of town. We like to sit at the bar and eat, but it’s also a solid move for dinner with the parents, or even an early in the game date.
A classic French neighborhood bistro that feels like it’s been around forever, with excellent not-cheap food. Order the goat cheese salad and a roast chicken with fries, every single time, and you will be successful person.
You can’t really talk about Upper East Side restaurants without at least mentioning Daniel. Yes, this is a stuffy and expensive French fine dining establishment, but if you sit in the salon, you can have a very special meal in a setting that’s a bit more relaxed.
Up Thai is a surprisingly good, surprisingly nice Thai restaurant on 2nd Avenue. You can actually eat many things other than just pad Thai here, including the excellent crispy duck and chicken larb. It’s great for takeout, too.
Beyoglu has been doing a strong business on 3rd Avenue for years, trading largely on the quality of their hummus and doner kebab, and the many outdoor tables from which to eat them. It’s a great spot for a weeknight dinner when the weather is nice, and you could probably show up here in your gym clothes.rf
Looking for an Italian restaurant that won’t break the bank and where you aren’t likely to run into your grandma having dinner? Uva is your move. The prices are good, the crowd is young, and it’s just as useful for date night as it is for a brunch meetup with some friends.
Flex has been a staple of the Upper East Side since it opened back in 2008. The mussels are great and creatively paired with broths of various flavors, and their raw bar is also a good move if you’re looking for some oysters and a glass of wine.
You know that time you ordered chicken tenders at that Irish pub on Third Avenue? Don’t ever do that again. Instead, come drink with your friends at The Penrose and eat their bar food, which is excellent and includes things like fried pickles and a spicy beef sandwich. Just don’t expect to do so in peace. This place gets busy, and it’s more like a bar on weekends.
Another one of our favorite Upper East Side Restaurants for pasta and a pizza. The food at Bella Blu is not cheap, but it’s always satisfying. Get the penne vodka, a pizza, and their famous Caesar salad and you’re in business.
A Greek restaurant on York Ave. that looks fairly nondescript from the outside, but is anything but once you sit down and start eating. The food is simple, delicious, and made for sharing, which makes Yefsi a great move for a group dinner or that next annoying double date that you have to plan.
Sandros is a long white room that comes accessorized with a large, friendly Italian man (the owner) who will pour you grappa at the end of your meal. Hit up this old-school Italian spot the next time you’re having a bad day, and the pasta here will get you feeling alright again.
Moti Mahal Deluxe is a New York location of a huge chain of Indian restaurants that spans across the continent of Asia. There’s a reason Moti Mahal is so successful, AKA “delux” – the food is incredibly good. Get the butter chicken.
Viand is one of the Upper East Side’s great diners. Come for breakfast or come for lunch, but whatever you do, eat a turkey club or a turkey omelette. Viand roasts their own every day.
While we love Moti Mahal Deluxe, Om is the Indian restaurant where we eat most frequently. The food is a bit lighter than what you’ll find at other Indian restaurants, while still being incredibly flavorful. And our Indian friends swear by Om’s authenticity, and while that wouldn’t stop us from eating here either way, it’s a nice thing to know.
All you really need to know is that Tanoshi is home to one of the best omakase deals in all of New York City. For $75-80, you’ll get 10 pieces of excellent and unique cuts, along with a hand roll. Also, it’s BYO-sake.
Heidi’s House by the Side of the Road isn’t somewhere you cross the city for, but if you live the area, it might be your second home. Maybe you even have a cute nickname for it, something like HHBTSOTR. This place is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant/wine bar where you can get a burger, paella, mac & cheese, and just a few other things. If you want to show someone that you know about under-the-radar spots, come here.
Felice is a mini-chain with a few other locations around Manhattan, and it’s both well-designed and a little bit pricey. The food is Italian, and, while it isn’t life-changing, it works for a date night on the UES when all you need is good vibes and a plate of pasta. It’s on the nicer side, but it isn’t uptight, and if you need a drink before dinner, they also have a wine bar next door.
They aren’t the trendiest Mexican spots anymore, but we’re still fans of the various Toloache locations around town.They do semi-upscale Mexican food, with things like lobster tacos, steak, and various ceviches. This location on 82nd has particularly nice backyard, and it works well for an outdoor brunch or a warm-weather date night.
Il Salumaio1731 2nd Ave
Il Salumaio feels like something you’d find on a side street in Rome, and it’s about the size of your average bodega. They have a surprising amount of food, however, and you can come here and get a very serious plate of antipasti then finish your meal with some pasta or a panini. There are about 10 tables inside, and they’re all pretty close together, but you could still use this place for a fun, laid-back date or a casual weeknight dinner.
Sable’s is essentially the Russ & Daughters of the Upper East Side. This is your one-stop depot for the best smoked salmon, sturgeon, and other stuff that goes on bagels. It is, without a doubt, fairly pricey for a very casual deli - but we’re pretty sure it’s worth it.
It’s a Saturday afternoon, and you want a burger. Go to J.G. Melon. This is an old-school establishment, and they do one of our favorite burgers in the city. It’s on the smaller side, but it’s exactly what you want a burger and the little round fries will make you wonder why more people don’t make fries like this.
If you find yourself in the East 70s wishing you had a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s, Pastrami Queen might be the next best thing. The sandwiches are huge and excellent, but not too huge. Not feeling pastrami? The corned beef here is also tremendous, as is the matzo ball soup.
Poke is a fairly basic sushi restaurant, but it’s been a popular destination with the post-college crowd for decades thanks to its BYOB policy. Because nothing pairs with a spicy tuna roll like some Trader Joe’s chardonnay.
On any given afternoon, this Greek diner on Madison Avenue is filled with a mix of old ladies who’ve been coming for their daily grapefruit and cottage cheese for 30 years, precocious children in school uniforms eating fries, art dealers selling Picassos over salad, and people who just went to the museum. It’s not the best food around, but it is as entertaining a cross-section of the neighborhood as you can find.
Another classic Upper East Side diner, Neil’s has been in business for over half a century, and the eggs and coffee feel like they haven’t changed a bit since the beginning of that era. That’s a good thing. This is where you come for a simple start to your day.
You would never guess it, but they have food and alcohol here. The alcohol is more-or-less standard, but for food you can get calamari, cheese curds covered in gravy, or savory mozzarella French toast. Or you can just have a burger. Ethyl’s is a 70’s-themed bar, they do things like bingo and burlesque, and the whole place feels more LES than UES. If you need a late-night snack beneath a disco ball, this is the place.
If ramen is what you’re after, Naruto is the place to get it on the Upper East Side. At $9 a bowl, it’s also one of the best cheap eats destinations in the entire area. There’s just one long bar (and no tables), however, so it isn’t really where you go for date night.
One of the few vegan restaurants in this part of town, and an excellent one at that. Candle Cafe is always packed with people who like to eat “cruelty free” food, though in our opinion, making someone eat a seitan sandwich is pretty cruel. Kidding (sort of). If you need vegan food on the UES, get it here.
A classic spot for Peking duck, as evidenced by the presence of white table cloths AND a fish tank. Do it on a Sunday night.
We had to put one of the many old school, over-priced Italian restaurants on this list, and Scalinatella wins just because of the likelihood that you’ll bump into Rudy Giuliani or Ruth Bader Ginsburg or some other ancient American luminary while you’re there. The food? It’s fine.
Earl’s is a tiny restaurant where you can get a nice craft beer and a solid grilled cheese. At least they named it correctly. Hit it for a late night bite after a night at the bars and eat a foie gras taco or a grilled cheese with pork belly and kimchi. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine in the morning.
Do you love a good Cajun chicken? Are you sort of an asshole? Then Le Bilboquet is the place for you. This legendary spot is a favorite destination for party brunch among New York’s most ridiculous people, and while you’d be more likely to catch us having a meal at the Costco snack counter than you would in this place, it probably deserves a mention here. Shout out to all the pear.