If you don’t spend much time on the Upper West Side, navigating it at mealtime can be like traveling to a new country. You know there’s great (or at least pretty good) stuff to be found, but it’s so goddamn big you don’t know where to start. Lucky for you, we have spent plenty of time on the Upper West. Whether you’re looking to eat smoked fish in 100-year old classics or just need a place to eat some oysters or Greek food on date night, we’ve got you covered.
The best thing to happen to the Upper West Side in recent memory. The Ribbon is a new restaurant from the people behind the Blue Ribbon empire, serving the kind of food Blue Ribbon became famous for: everything from bone marrow to oysters to roasted chicken. It’s also just a generally fun place to hang out, and is Perfect For everything from a night out with friends to watching sports on TV.
The best modern dim sum restaurant around, with a location on 77th and Broadway. The place is very much the same as the West Village original, but with fewer people trying to get into 1OAK afterward.
Another incredibly popular downtown Chinese restaurant with a location on the Upper West Side, Han Dynasty specializes in Sichuan food – the dan dan noodles are famous. This is your best bet at mouth-numbing spicy food in the area.
The ultimate Upper West Side old school Italian spot, hit Gennaro for any and all Sunday night dinners with the family. They’re famous for their seafood risotto, and you’ll do very well with a simple spaghetti pomodoro or veal chop. Know that it’s cash only.
Come for the oyster happy hour, stay for the lobster roll and generally good vibes. The UWS Mermaid Inn location is moving next door, but they’ll still be in operation. This is a great spot for a date.
If you find yourself at the northern edge of the Upper West Side, head up a few blocks further to Community. It’s an excellent place for brunch, though lines are often long due to Columbia’s proximity. Michelle and Malia Obama had lunch here, if you get excited about that sort of thing. We get excited about that sort of thing, but only a little.
A casual, reliable Greek restaurant that’s incredibly reasonable. It’s laid back, but nice enough for a date or family dinner. You won’t go wrong with a piece of plain grilled fish, but the sheep’s milk dumplings with spicy lamb sausage are where it’s at.
From the same people as Kefi, Fish Tag is another seafood restaurant, but a less traditional one. There tend to be more unusual ingredients and preparations, and the space is also more modern.
A classic, fairly casual French bistro. It’s good anytime – have a niçoise salad at lunch, a croque monsieur at brunch, a piece of salmon at dinner. But the best time to come is on Friday nights, when they do a special bouillabaise, a.k.a. fish soup infused with crack.
Vegans of the Upper West, hit Peacefood for all your non-animal food needs. The chickpea fries are famous, the salads and sandwiches are very good, and the vanilla cake is weirdly excellent. Yes, vegan desserts can be great.
More vegan food that’s actually good. Candle Cafe’s Broadway location is also one of the nicest rooms in which to eat vegan food in the entire city.
Your neighborhood go-to Italian trattoria. Come for pizzas, pastas, and other simple, reasonably priced food.
There’s an outpost of Parm on Columbus and 71st, serving the Italian-American sandwiches and salads you know it for. Go turkey, Saratoga club, or chicken parm.
There are three reasons you come to Isabella’s: 1) Because they do a great brunch. 2) Because it’s family/stroller friendly. 3) Because it’s near the Museum Of Natural History. Around these parts, all three apply to approximately 80% of the population, which means it’s pretty much mayhem throughout the day on weekends.
Hot and fresh out the pizza oven, this Williamsburg Neapolitan pizza spot is new to the Upper West Side. You’ll find the usual margheritas, plus funkier options like fig and fennel or potato and bacon pizza.
The best sushi on the Upper West Side, and also the most expensive, particularly if you go for Gari’s famous omakase. If you’ve been to the Upper East Side location, know this one is much more modern and less hole-in-the-wall-like.
The ultimate Upper West Side smoked fish destination, Barney Greengrass is a historical institution, not unlike Russ & Daughters. There’s plenty of room to sit – get a table, and bring the gang for plates of eggs and smoked salmon.
es, there’s another old school Jewish smoked fish destination on this list, but hey, it’s the Upper West Side, and this is also one of the best. Come on a Sunday morning for tuna salad, whitefish salad, lox, and amazing homemade bialys.
A classic old school spot slice joint that’s frequently, and rightfully, in the conversation for best slice in the city. You can’t go wrong with a plain slice, and sausage is popular at well.
Taking your grandparents to the philharmonic? Taking yourself to the philharmonic? Hit Atlantic Grill before or after for seafood. The space is nice and unstuffy (for the area, at least), with big red booths to get comfortable in.
The Upper West Side is rich with outposts of Birdbath Bakery, the always reliable sandwich, salad, and chocolate chip cookie destination. Keep it in mind if you’re looking for a quick, takeout lunch option.
While we’re on the subject of chocolate chip cookies, we’d be remiss to not mention Levain. It simply doesn’t get better than these fist-sized mounds of cookie.