The Best Restaurants On The Upper East Side

The greatest hits of the Upper East Side.

photo credit: Lashevet

Some of the best things about the Upper East Side have been around for decades. For example, that classic burger joint with green-checkered tablecloths, all the places Kermit and his pals visited in The Muppets Take Manhattan, and the ghosts who haunt the Met. But—just like shiny Q train subway stations, and babies born at Mt. Sinai—there are plenty of new things improving the neighborhood too. From French fine-dining establishments and a surplus of sushi, to sceney Mediterranean spots and sizzling Thai, consider this your primer to the Upper East Side's greatest hits.


photo credit: Sonal Shah


Upper East Side

$$$$Perfect For:First/Early in the Game DatesDate NightDinner with the Parents
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From the neon yellow sign at the entrance, to the illuminated cityscape in the back room, everything at Tha Phraya is stylishly lit—and that includes the food, which tingles with freshly ground and pounded spices. This place has downtown energy and dishes from all over Thailand, but start with the chef’s specialities on the menu’s first page: the pomelo salad is perfectly balanced and strewn with tiny little fishes, and the fried whole branzino comes in a tangy kaeng som curry that’s hard to stop eating, even as it bubbles down into a thicker, spicier sauce over the course of dinner. Then come back to delve into the menu's back half.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff



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Remember this revamped American bistro from the Flex Mussels team for your next easy dinner featuring plump shrimp cocktail, roast chicken, and eavesdropping on neighborhood gossip. Each of the three dining areas has a slightly different feel. If you're with a friend, sit in the slightly loungey middle room. When you're shepherding out-of-towners around the neighborhood, the back room with Victorian stars and moons makes a nice backdrop for dinner after a day of museums and park tourism.

This second location of a Brooklyn Heights Palestinian restaurant is a great option when you want to feed all of your friends cheesy flatbreads and roasted lamb shank over seasoned rice. We always start with warm pita dipped into olive oil and za’atar, and olives for good measure—all eaten underneath a canopy of fake leaves. Keep Al Badawi in mind for your next casual group meal. The BYOB policy keeps the bill reasonable.

If you haven't been to this iconic burger establishment, there are a few things you should know: it will inevitably be crowded, it’s cash-only, and you need to order the chili and a martini in addition to your burger. This New York institution with cottage fries and green-checked tablecloths has been serving its simple, classic burgers since TGI Friday's was nothing more than a swinging singles bar down the street. And once you’ve been, you’ll think about going back every time you feel overwhelmingly sad, happy, or drunk.

You can’t really talk about UES 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 exceptional. In addition to their $334, nine-course tasting menu, Daniel also has a five-course prix fixe for $234. In case you’re looking for a special occasion experience that’s a smidge more relaxed than what happens in the main dining room, you can order a la carte dishes in the lounge.

The UES has more than its fair share of good sushi omakase places. But Tanoshi stands out because of the BYOB policy. Each meal costs around $125 and comes with 10 pieces of excellent fish, a hand roll, three small maki rolls, and an open forum to drink whatever you want. The space at Tanoshi is tight—it’s two narrow dining rooms built around a residential hallway. But as you get into your meal, you won’t even notice your surroundings. Bring a date or no one at all.

This Viennese cafe in the Neue Galerie is useful for a fancy breakfast or lunch near Central Park, especially if you like the sound of drinking bracingly strong kaffee creme next to a Bösendorfer grand piano. We usually order wienerschnitzel (the best in the city) or bavarian sausage served with a soft pretzel, and sweets like sachertorte and apfelstrudel.

Sushi Seki is known, first and foremost, for their brilliant nigiri mash-ups: things like tuna with tofu sauce, salmon with sauteed tomato, and red snapper topped with sea salt, which turns out to be a more thrilling combination than you’d think. We also like Sushi Seki because it looks expensive (and kind of is), but the atmosphere is unpretentious and fun. At prime dinnertime, the small dining room gets packed and you might be scooting your chair back and forth constantly to let the waitstaff through. But no one really cares. The lively crowd is too busy throwing back sake and laughing.

This Peruvian restaurant on 2nd Avenue 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 pisco sour. The dining room, with its wraparound bar and neon sign that reads “Tiger Milk Effect,” gets as busy as a club. If you’re seeking a slightly calmer energy, sit on the sidewalk patio.

There’s a lot of good Thai food in this part of town, but the first place we send anyone who regularly utters the words “Thai, spicy, please” is Zabb PuTawn. This Northern Thai restaurant is run by a chef who used to have a popular restaurant in Queens, before he gifted the UES with some of the best goong chae nam pla and gaeng kio wan 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 ambiance it needs comes from the spice-induced sniffles at every table.

The opening of Super Taste was groundbreaking UES restaurant news, right up there with the return of cottage fries at J.G. Melon, and Papaya King moving from one side of the street to the other. Swing by this Chinatown noodle spot’s second location, for a stewed pork burger on a sesame pancake bun that might be the best $5.95 you can spend within a mile of the Met. This small storefront is geared towards takeout, but you can eat a plate of fried pork and chive dumplings at one of the tables if desired. Or walk 15 minutes to Central Park, and enjoy your Lanzhou-style, spicy beef hand-pulled noodle soup under some trees.

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, comforting meal. The portions are huge and the setting stays fairly quiet.

Uva is a great 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 dates tend to go well in their enclosed back garden. 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.

Bohemian Spirit is a Czech restaurant on the first floor of the Bohemian National Hall building, so you can imagine the level of Czech pride on display. 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 having a beer in Prague—especially once you have their crusty fried cheese and roast beef with a creamy orange svíčková sauce on the table.

Is it possible to scientifically prove that something is delicious? Apparently not, but at Lashevet, you can eat very good Middle Eastern food conceived by a former food scientist. This charming little spot is great for a spontaneous cup of Turkish coffee under a kaleidoscopic Moroccan lamp. Their menu changes from fully vegetarian cafe stuff during the day to a meat-heavy dinner in the evening, with influences from Israeli, Lebanese, and Moroccan cuisines.

Vietnaam is a neighborhood standby near the 86th Street subway station. Like its sister restaurant Saiguette, this place has been takeout-only since the pandemic, but you’ll usually see a crew of Upper East Siders waiting to order crispy nem filled with shrimp, pork, taro, and jicama, as well as a comforting bowl of spicy beef pho with eye of round, brisket, and meatballs. If you’re looking for a more portable snack, pick up a massive bánh mì.

Via Quadronno is the answer to the perpetually hot question, "Where do I get lunch near the east side of Central Park?" It's just a few steps from the Met and they’ve been making great pastas and sandwiches since 1999. Try their special speck panini or carbonara, and get some gelato at the end. Via Quadronno is consistently busy and crowded, with tables mostly for two, so it’s a bit of a nightmare for a group.

photo credit: Sushi Noz


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Great sushi restaurants serve fish that's 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 cypress wood scent in your nostrils as it is the nigiri parading into your stomach. There are two different tastings offered here. At the Hinoki Counter, chef Noz runs the show (except on Saturdays), and in the Ash Room, a sous chef hands out uni flown in from Hokkaido and eel that's been smoked over bamboo leaves. If you’re not quite prepared to drop $550 on one of the city’s best omakase meals, head next door to Noz Market, where you’ll find a $185 tasting and a standing-room-only hand roll bar.

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. Sandro's is that place. Between the Roman pastas and lemony veal scaloppine, and servers walking around pouring everyone grappa, it's paradise coated in olive oil. Remember it the next time you're having a bad day. The bucatini amatriciana should help.

This is the first US location of a chain originating in New Delhi, and they're known for incredible murgh makhani butter chicken. The dish is cooked in a clay oven and so rich that you may need to lie down later. Moti Mahal Delux has a loyal following, so the casual dining room tends to be packed. Bring a date or a small group to share crab masala and the aforementioned poultry star.

This upscale spot on York Avenue is our favorite Greek restaurant in the neighborhood, and it’s also one of the best in the whole city. Your dates, your niece, and all spud fans will approve of the lemony and inexplicably soft Greek potatoes here. Get them along with zucchini chips, lamb souvlaki, and a couple more pricey but shareable seafood and meat entrees.

JoJo used to be a formal Jean-Georges French restaurant before getting a makeover and reopening as a more modern, two-story spot 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 chicory and apple salad, seed-crusted sea bass, and our favorite roast chicken on the UES. Come here for a date or when you’re looking for a slightly cool uptown spot.

There 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 at Quatorze. This bistro is the kind of place where 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 just part of the deal.

If you live near Heidi’s House By The Side Of The Road, it might already be your second apartment. Maybe you even call it “(Your Name)’s House By The Side Of The Road.” This place is reliable for a solo dinner or casual catch-up in the East 70s. Order some wine, a juicy burger, and crispy mac and cheese. It also works if you'd like to prove to someone that you know good, under-the-radar spots in the neighborhood.

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