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, which is home to some of our highest rated restaurants. From classic Jewish delis and Dominican standbys to some of the best places to eat sushi or Vietnamese food in Manhattan—the options on the UWS will satisfy nearly any mood you (or the people you need to please) are in. Don’t believe us? Read on.


Absolute Bagels

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.

Since 2022, the Lincoln Center is the unlikely home to one of the best restaurants (and toughest reservations) in NYC. Located in David Geffen Hall, Tatiana serves food inspired by Top Chef alum Kwame Onwuachi’s upbringing in the Bronx, and the menu features things like egusi dumplings, curried goat patties, and one of the most impressive mashup dishes in the city, the incredibly tender short rib pastrami suya. Have a fun night out here under some faux clouds illuminated by soft blue lighting, and listen to ‘90s hip hop while you eat one-of-a-kind food that fully delivers.

This upscale Japanese spot operates out of the bottom floor of Korean restaurant Boka, and its high-quality sushi and nice garden patio make it one of the most impressive dining options on the UWS. Sushi Nonaka offers a couple of omakase options starting at $65 (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.

The next-gen offshoot of local favorite Mama’s Pizza, Mama’s Too serves square and round pizza from a small counter on Broadway and 106th. The square bruschetta and poached pear with hot honey will enrich your life in ways you have yet to fathom—and those aren’t even the slices that make this one of the best pizza places in NYC. The pepperoni alone is worth a trip across the city, but the best way to experience Mama’s Too is to get an assortment of slices and pass them around with a couple of friends who don’t mind biting into your bites. Keep an eye on their Instagram for gelato updates and occasional sandwich drops.

On 72nd Street, Sushi Kaito serves a 14-course omakase ($115) that doesn't follow the same progression as most omakase experiences. Every two or three nigiri rounds will be broken up by a cooked dish like tempura fried hake in a mushroom broth, or a smoked goldeneye snapper collar if you’re lucky. The sushi tends to lean traditional, but the slices of fish are notably thicker than what you may have seen elsewhere, and you'll really feel like you're getting your money’s worth. If you can't get a seat, try Sushi Yasaka across the street, where you’ll find a la carte and more affordable set options.

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 low-key date near Amsterdam Avenue and 107th Street.

The Upper West Side is home to some of the best Chino Latino food in NYC, and you’ll find the best of the best at La Dinastia. The chicharrones de pollo are light and crispy, served with a lemon for squeezing, and best dipped in a secret tangy green sauce, which is one of those secrets that everybody knows about. La Dinastia got a recent boost on social media, but this casual spot has been open since 1986, serving fried pork chops and rum-based nutcrackers to Upper West Siders. If this isn’t already your first stop after a day spent lounging in Central Park, after one visit, it will be.

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. Bring your visitors here for bagels, sturgeon, latkes, and eggs with a side of lox before an afternoon at the Natural History museum.

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 epic poem about this twice-fried, chili-dusted poultry product, topped 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 $25.

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.

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 of this Israeli restaurant is also a zoo at brunch, but you should still stop by for silky hummus, top-notch shakshuka, and dense, flaky burekas. Miriram 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.

If you’re looking for a pre-Lincoln Center dinner that’s not especially fancy, but still feels a little special, and might involve lobster tacos, head to El Fish Marisqueria. It’s run by the chef behind Toloache, Coppelia, and a few other Mexican restaurants in the city, and it’s a smooth operation that’s a bit more upscale than their other spots. In addition to the lobster tacos, order things like tuna tostadas, grilled oysters, clam chowder tortilla soup, a whole fish, and a few rounds of margaritas.

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. The team behind Jacob’s Pickles also owns nextdoor Tiki Chick, in case you’d like to follow your comfort food with a piña colada, and a pretty delicious $5 fried chicken sandwich.

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 mini-chain, and it’ll make you smile. The fried chicken here is famously made in a cast iron skillet rather than a deep fryer, and the meat comes out tender beneath a well-seasoned crust.

Dagon is a Mediterranean spot that’s useful for when you need to impress your in-laws or a few friends you haven’t seen in a while. We technically prefer the hummus and shakshuka at nearby Miriam, but Miriam doesn’t have Dagon’s patterned tile floors, hanging foliage, and beachy pastel color scheme. Entrees start around $30 and include things like dry-aged kebabs, chicken schnitzel, and salmon with harissa. Be sure to start your meal with the pull-apart kubaneh stuffed with feta. It works especially well at brunch.

The Amsterdam Avenue location of this Dominican spot from Washington Heights serves dishes like emparedados, mofongo de chicharron de cerdo, 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 $20 per person, this is the place.

El Mitote in the West 70s makes some of the neighborhood’s best Mexican food, including delicious “comida corrida” or fast food 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. This spot works for just about any kind of casual meal, but 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 UWS 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.

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photo credit: David A. Lee

The Best Restaurants On The Upper West Side guide image