Upper West Side Restaurants
142 W. 65th St., Upper West Side
The location of Lincoln Center's refined Italian restaurant makes it a no-brainer for before a show, but the menu (not to mention the seriously sophisticated, Italian-only wine list) actually stands up to our favorite hole-in-the-wall joints downtown. The menu fulfills cravings for all the classic dishes, from spaghettini al pomodoro to lobster risotto, plus a glorious bistecca alla griglia. If you come in the evening, don't forget to check out another bonus from the drinks program: The negroni and prosecco bars.
44 W. 63rd St., Upper West Side
The P.J. Clarke’s on 55th Street—it’s been there since the 1880’s—is one of those classic NYC institutions where everyone who grew up on their burgers can think of nothing better. That sensibility translates to the downtown outpost, which seems to play particularly well with bankers who are thrilled to have a burger and a beer to wrap up the day. The Lincoln Square location is a hit with kids walking home from Central Park.
41 Madison Ave., Upper West Side
Chef Ben Lee learned to cook alongside Philadelphia food legend Marc Vetri, so his command of sophisticated Italian flavors (without getting too fancy) makes the menu here an automatic standout. The cuisine is casual Italian, but the plating and the décor are both distinctly modern.
215 W. 85th St., Upper West Side
The food here is full of flavor and spice (the dan dan noodles are particularly insane). It's a no-frills kind of place, and the reasonable tabs make it a great place to go with a group on a budget. (Note that it's no longer BYOB, though.) There's also a location in the East Village.
235 Columbus Ave., Upper West Side
This offshoot from the Nolita original is part of the Major Food group (Dirty French, Carbone, etc.), and as-to-be-expected it's reliably really good. It couldn't be Parm if it didn't serve a really good one, along with other trattoria standbys like broccoli rabe, penne scampi, and chicken limone. There are also outposts in the Financial District, Williamsburg, and at Yankee Stadium.
72 W. 69th St., Upper West Side
Telepan is the kind of place where you can lunch on great, elevated greenmarket fare in an elegant but unpretentious white-table clothed room—perhaps next to someone like Barbara Walters. The menu revolves around small plates, like a raw sunchoke and mushroom salad, broccoli rabe with white anchovy and egg yolk, and elevated pigs-in-a-blanket.
423 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side
Sarabeth’s started out as a bakery in Chelsea Market in the 80s, where owner Sarabeth Levine perfected cookies, scones, and cakes (with unabashed amounts of sugar, flour, and butter). After she became legendary, she opened Sarabeth’s and basically launched the craze that is weekend Brunch. Years later, it’s still hard to get a breakfast reservation at any of her roomy, all-American, restaurants, but it’s so worth it for luscious pancakes and french toast, not to mention ideal omelettes. There are additional locations in the Upper East Side, Midtown, Gramercy, and Tribeca.
2170 Broadway, Upper West Side
Chef Joe Ng is doing wonders in a great second floor space in the West Village (upstairs from Red Farm’s newer sibling, Decoy), and a second outpost on the Upper West Side. Red Farm’s menu focuses on fresh greenmarket product, artfully prepared fish, and delicious dim sum (including less familiar creations like Katz’s pastrami egg roll). From the dim sum selection, the Pac Man shrimp dumplings are as delicious as they are Instagram-worthy and the duck spring rolls are not at all greasy and taste surprisingly refreshing. We’re more than willing to endure the substantial wait (no reservations here) for a bowl of the Lobster Long Life noodles and the veggie fried rice. They put together prix-fixe menus for large groups in private spaces at both locations.
10 Columbus Circle, Upper West Side
Napa's French Laundry may have put Thomas Keller on the map, but Per Se, which is perched above Central Park, confirms his legendary status. Chef Eli Kaimeh's menu changes daily, and the meal itself can last for hours as you advance from seasonal course to course, but it's all superb. Having one of the best meals in New York City comes at a price, though, as the set dinner menu starts at $325 (you can now order á la carte). The private room also happens to have one of the best views in town.
541 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side
This old-school delicatessen has been around for over 100 years and carries every conceivable kind of smoked fish. It's a fun stop even just to see the hand-painted 1950’s sign outside, and the vintage Americana interiors it has carefully stewarded through the decades. Greengrass is also a restaurant that’s particularly great for breakfast—there are plenty of egg and bagel options to accompany your choice of smoked fish. And, in keeping with tradition, portions are huge, so go hungry.
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