The Best Restaurants On The Upper West Side guide image


The Best Restaurants On The Upper West Side

Our favorite Upper West Side restaurants for all sorts of dining situations.

The Upper West Side doesn’t always get the restaurant credit it deserves. But there’s never been a better time to eat in the neighborhood. From classic Jewish delis and Dominican standbys to some of the best places to eat Szechuan or Vietnamese food in Manhattan—the options on the Upper West Side will satisfy nearly any mood you (or the people you need to please) are in. Don’t believe us? Read on.


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Absolute Bagels


2788 Broadway, New York
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If we had to pick one bagel to reign supreme, it would be the untoasted everything bagel with scallion cream cheese from Absolute Bagels. Tiny and round like a softball, each springy dough globe you’ll find here has a blistered bottom. The dough itself tastes malty and sweet, like it had a daydream years ago about being a dessert. Absolute Bagels also makes fantastic Thai iced tea. (The place was founded by Sam Thongkrieng, who moved from Bangkok to NYC in the ’80s and worked at Ess-A-Bagel for years).

This upscale Japanese spot operates out of the bottom floor of Korean restaurant Boka, and with its high-quality sushi and nice garden patio, it's one of the most impressive dining options on the Upper West Side. Sushi Nonaka offers a couple of omakase options starting at $105 (as well as à la carte sushi), with a selection of fish that changes depending on what they get shipped that day. During a past visit, some of our favorite pieces were the lightly seared sea bass, striped jack with smoky yuzu sauce, and flaky, sweet unagi.

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Sushi Kaito



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Kaito on West 72nd Street serves a 15-course omakase for less than $100 that doesn't follow the same progression as most other high-end options in the neighborhood. Every two or three nigiri rounds will be broken up by a cooked dish like tempura fried hake in a mushroom broth and maybe a smoked goldeneye snapper collar if you’re lucky. The sushi tends to lean traditional here, but the slices of fish are notably thicker than what you may have seen elsewhere. When you’re eating hefty pieces of king salmon and Japanese mackerel, you’ll really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

We once went to Mama’s Too when it was 15 degrees outside. We had to wear pants under our pants, and it was worth it. That was the first time we tried their shroom and sausage slice as well as the cacio e pepe pizza with its four types of cheese and cracked black pepper, both of which will enrich your life in ways you have yet to fathom. And those aren’t even the best slices here. The square pepperoni one is worth a trip across the city, and the classic margherita with fresh basil is just about as noteworthy as the one at Di Fara.

One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the city, Bánh serves dishes like bún bò bơ with sizzling butter beef, a pork belly bánh mì that’s a contender for the best in the city, and a crispy bánh chưng chiên appetizer that’s filled with pork and comes with a tangy soy dressing. Between an appetizer and an entree, you can easily walk away having spent $30 on an exciting dinner here. The casual set-up makes this place perfect for a meetup with a friend or a date near Amsterdam Avenue and 107th Street.

There are technically better bagels in New York City, but in terms of all-around experience, Barney Greengrass is hard to beat. This deli and appetizing store—open for over 100 years now—has a small dining room with vinyl seating and historical murals on the walls, and that's where you should be eating bagels, sturgeon, latkes, and eggs with a side of lox.

The combination of fat, salt, and spice makes any fried chicken sandwich at least some degree of delicious. But rarely are they as memorable as the Nashville Hot Chickwich version at this casual Korean restaurant on the Upper West Side. Chick Chick’s play on Korean-Nashville Hot Chicken is crunchier than it is fiery, and we could write an entire review of this twice-fried, chili-dusted poultry production with pickles and creamy white sauce. This is a perfect place to pick up some takeout for your kids or to have a casual meal with a friend for around $20.

The menu at this counter-service spot is huge, with everything from phở and spring rolls to lobster curry and steak over rice—but don’t leave without a massive bánh mì. Our favorite is the pork shoulder one, but they also do them with steak, chicken, and shrimp. Pick up a sandwich, then take it back home or walk two blocks east to the park.

photo credit: Luis Chaves

Miriam review image


The original Miriam is in Park Slope, and if you walk by on a weekend afternoon, you’ll see a line of people out the door. The Upper West Side location is also a zoo at brunch, but you should still stop by for silky hummus, top-notch shakshuka, and dense, flaky burekas. This Israeli restaurant is also open for dinner, and it’s a great option for a nice, casual night out. The space is bright and pleasant, with big windows and some leafy vines scattered throughout, and there’s a bar in the back in case you want to dine solo.

Eléa is a big, attractive Greek restaurant, and it's one of the best options for a somewhat upscale meal on the UWS. There’s a bar area upstairs and a large dining room in the basement, and the whole space leans into the coastal-Greek theme. Your options range from salads and vegetarian mousaka to lamb chops and a whole grilled fish, and you should always start with a few of the dips. We especially like the hummus.

If you’re going to brunch at Jacob’s Pickles, bring a handful of Tums and a big group of friends—then order a bunch of heavy Southern comfort food with reckless abandon. There are ribs and catfish tacos on the menu, but what you really come here for are the otherworldly biscuit “sandwiches” that are actually just huge piles of food that happen to include bread on the top and the bottom.

When you stop by Charles Pan-Fried Chicken, an employee behind the counter might shout something like, “I got that cornbread,” and the whole team will reply with “Oooooooh” in unison. This ritual is clearly part of the deal if you work at this counter-service spot, and it’ll make you smile. The fried chicken here (the original location was in Harlem) is famously made in a cast iron skillet rather than a deep fryer, and the meat comes out tender beneath a well-seasoned crust. We also love the ribs, collards, black-eyed peas, and cornbread.

The Amsterdam Avenue location of this Washington Heights Dominican spot serves dishes like emparedados, mofongo de chicharron, and our personal favorite, rotisserie chicken. Stop by for a half-bird with skin that tastes like it’s coated in brown sugar, and add a side of boiled green bananas. If you’re looking for somewhere on the UWS to bring your whole family for a great dinner that’ll cost around $15 per person, this is the place.

El Mitote in the West 70s makes the neighborhood’s best Mexican food, including delicious comida corrida platters that come with rice and brothy Guadalajara-style black beans. All of the food is served on bright-colored trays, so we like to think of this place as a cafeteria for people who have fun and enjoy enchiladas. We recommend this neighborhood spot for anything from a date to dinner with your family, just show up on the early side if you don’t want to wait for a table since they don’t accept reservations.

Will you remember the classic French bistro dishes at Cafe Luxembourg forever? Absolutely not. But you will remember the experience and the fact that you may see Fran Lebowitz taking a meeting in a corner booth with two extremely tall people. This classic Upper West Side restaurant is more about dining in a dimly-lit, red-leather-booth institution than it is about any single plate of food. Having said that, you could order the French onion soup and a martini and be perfectly satisfied by your meal here.

This gourmet deli and grocer has been in the same location for over 80 years. They sell high-quality cheese, meats, and hundreds of packages of chocolate babka daily—but the real star of Zabar’s is their smoked fish. Eat a bagel with smoked whitefish or nova from their takeout area on the corner of 80th Street and Broadway.

The best things about this French bistro on 104th Street and Broadway are the long list of French wines in the $20 range and the food that’s consistently buttery and delicious. On the next warm, breezy night, grab a wicker chair on the sidewalk patio here and eat some mussels in a dijonnaise sauce.

This casual Thai restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue specializes in street food. The dining room is even designed to look like a market, with signs hanging from the ceiling. Try the daikon cakes sautéed in a sticky soy sauce with bean sprouts, eggs, and scallions, or the Thai Market egg crepe filled with shrimp, hot peppers, tofu, and sweet coconut sauce. One more thing to know: Thai Market fuels Columbia students in the same way that Red Bull and late nights do, so you’ll probably spot a bunch of 20-year-olds here.

One requirement for identifying yourself as a New Yorker is being able to name your favorite neighborhood diner. If you live on the Upper West Side, then your answer is easy: Viand Cafe. Like the Upper East Side location, the here menu ranges from omelettes to meatloaf, but the most important thing to know is that they roast their turkeys in-house. Which means you should be ordering their turkey sandwich. The big booths and midnight closing time make this a good option if you want to eat some pancakes for your second dinner.

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