We recently wrapped up a series of reader polls asking our audience about their favorite restaurants on the Upper West Side. We asked both about their favorite newcomers (which we defined as restaurants that opened in 2022) along with their favorite UWS restaurants overall (regardless of how long they’ve been here). Here’s what the polls said:
The 5 Best Upper West Side Restaurants To Open During 2022:
1. Nina’s Great Burrito Bar
522 Columbus Avenue (at 85th Street)
Nina Guzman and Jeremy Wladis opened Nina’s Great Burrito Bar in January 2022 as a resurrection of The Great Burrito, Guzman’s former business which previously occupied this space and before that, had a small spot on Amsterdam Ave between 79th and 80th streets. The Great Burrito served the UWS for almost 30 years.
Nina’s Great Burrito Bar has a similar menu, but you’ll definitely find a few new items.
Two popular picks include Nina’s Mole Enchiladas and Chicken Tinga (available as a protein for burritos, quesadillas, bowls, starters and sharable plates). Fans have also raved about the Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla and Birria Tacos.
There’s also a Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. happy hour with $3 Jello shots, $5 and $6 draft beers, $7 wine and sangrias, $8 margaritas and $9 specialty cocktails.
2. Charles Pan-Fried Chicken
146 West 72nd Street (between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues)
Charles Gabriel’s original location at West 132nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard closed during the spring of 2021, but it would soon re-emerge on West 145th Street, and the takeout-only Upper West Side restaurant would follow in early 2022.
Now, according to the eatery’s website and various reports, he’s mapping out a “series of Charles Pan-Fried Chicken restaurants.”
Plates and combos come with this cornbread and a choice of two sides; popular picks include Baked Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens, Grits and Yams.
The main attraction is of course the juicy, skillet-fried chicken, but they’ve got other meats like ribs, pulled pork and huge, gravy-smothered turkey wings.
At the age of 75, the James Beard Foundation named Gabriel a semifinalist in its 2023 Best Chef Awards for New York State.
300 Amsterdam Avenue (at 74th Street)
The original Miriam opened in Park Slope in 2005. In 2020, owner Refael Hasid and Chef Alon Hadar expanded by opening a Homemade by Miriam – a to-go version of the eatery – at 88 West Broadway in Tribeca. The Upper West Side restaurant opened in January 2022 and offers both take-out and onsite dining.
Miriam is super popular (and oftentimes packed) for brunch, where some favorite items include Miriam’s shakshuka, potato pancakes, burekas and a whole host of egg plates.
The dinner menu offers mezzes including Miriam’s hummus, roasted cauliflower and goat cheese crostini; lamb, chicken and Seabass shawarmas; and a heavy-hitting braised short rib main course.
Cocktails are also a draw, as are the bartenders. Try the Lavender!
4. La Pecora Bianca
359 Columbus Avenue (at 77th Street)
La Pecora Bianca’s pastas are all made in-house – including the restaurant’s signature rigatoni vodka, gramigna, and tagliatelle bolognese. Upper West Siders are feeling the burrata big time, both as an app (which comes with honey poached apple, hazelnut and charred radicchio) and as a pasta add-on.
The restaurant – owned by Mark Barak, who is also the co-owner of Claudette in Greenwich Village – is also popular for its tiramisu, lamb ragu, and like its predecessors, its beautiful ambiance.
La Pecora Bianca means “the white sheep” in Italian.
Established in 2015, additional locations can be found on the Upper East Side, Nomad, Midtown, Bryant Park, Soho, and Meatpacking.
5. Essential by Christophe
103 West 77th Street (at Columbus Avenue)
While it’s the newest UWS restaurant on our list, Bellanca’s foie gras, scallops and duck appear to have already risen to the top of the menu as fan favorites.
But “The very first taste you’ll get when you visit us will be our sweet potato royale and mushroom cappuccino!” reads this Jan. 20 Instagram post (with video) by the restaurant.
Vegetarian options include Parsnips with roasted comte cheese custard and rum jus and the Heirloom Cauliflower with Maine uni and tonka. The Iberico Pork, served with mango “aigre-doux” and Thai basil is a popular gluten-free item.
Bellanca got an overwhelmingly positive Jan. 30 review from Forbes‘ John Mariani, who praised everything from the menu and its moderate pricing to the interior design and the attractiveness of the waitstaff.
Bellanca – who grew up in Ardeche, France and moved to the U.S. in 2004 – has earned two Michelin stars and has worked at prestigious NYC restaurants including L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Le Cirque.
The 10 Best Upper West Side Restaurants
217 West 85th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)
Reno Christou opened this Greek restaurant in October 2018, shortly after opening Kyma in the Flatiron District. The huge, beautiful two-story space features light tones and exposed brick throughout, plush seating, a well-lit 40 seat bar room on the first floor and room for 130 diners downstairs.
Some must-orders for dinner include their sesame crusted feta with dried figs, thyme, pink peppercorns & honey; “Youvetsi,” their wine-braised short ribs with baked orzo; and their Greek fries which are seasoned perfectly and just the right amount of crispy.
There’s also a raw bar with clams, oysters, salmon crudo and tuna tartare made with yellow fin tuna, orange oil, zeia crisps, dried kalamata olives and fennel pollen.
“Elea” means “olive” in Ancient Greek, and some deliciously juicy olives are served with Elea’s warm bread brought out before dinner.
Elea features a cocktail list with many signature concoctions including its Kymatini, made with Stoli cucumber, Skinos Masticha and mint. Another popular cocktail is Elea’s “Dirty Greek,” made with Aris Vodka or Bombay Sapphire, Kalamata olive juice, and feta-stuffed Kalamata olives.
The brunch menu at Elea includes a variety of egg plates like Greek Style shakshuka (baked eggs, tomato, peppers, feta, and toasted Zeia Bread) and Youvetsi Hash & Eggs (Xinomavro braised short rib “hash”, soft scrambled egg, anthotyro and toasted Zeia Bread). Additionally, their three signature Bloody Mary’s are made with their own vegetable infused vodka.
2. Cafe Luxembourg
200 West 70th Street (between Amsterdam and West End)
An Upper West Side dining staple since 1983, Cafe Luxembourg is a classic, vibey French restaurant frequently packed to the brim – so definitely make a reservation.
Some longtime favorites include Cafe Luxembourg’s French onion soup, yellowfin tuna burger, eggs Benedict and lobster roll.
It’s also a trendy restaurant where you’ll likely spot celebrities on a regular basis. Patrons have reported sightings of Woody Allen, Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson, Al Pacino, Steve Martin, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner and Matt Dillon, among others.
While it was already a popular spot, its feature in When Harry Met Sally (1989) brought it towards global recognition.
2454 Broadway (at 91st Street)
Less than two months after this Upper West Side restaurant opened, the New York Post‘s Steve Cuozzo called Dagon “the city’s best new restaurant to arise out of the pandemic and my favorite new Upper West Side place since the millennium.”
In our earlier write-ups, readers have complimented the salmon, hummus, crudo, beef kebabs and more.
All of Dagon’s oven-fresh breads are crowd-pleasers, especially the Kubaneh: rolls lined with feta cheese, finished in brown butter and zaatar spice and served with labneh.
Many Dagon diners recommend the Shishbarak: Lebanese mushroom-filled dumplings served over warm yogurt and pine nuts. “I had the shishbarak and thought, what the hell is this magic in my mouth??” wrote one Yelp user.
The Crispy Roasted Lamb is also a major draw. “We braise it first in stock, then we just blast it in this 700 degree oven, so the crust forms and the inside is nice and juicy,” Executive Chef and Partner Ari Bokovza told The Daily Beast. “The only way you can do it is with an oven that is that hot. If you don’t do it that hot, it’ll just dry out.”
Dagon’s Chicken Liver Mousse was featured in Eater’s late-November 2021 roundup of the best dishes its editors had eaten that week, earning a spot for “the date syrup pooled in the bottom of the serving bowl.”
566 Amsterdam Avenue (between 87th and 88th streets)
Since opening in 2017, this French restaurant and wine bar has been an annual recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, which recognizes quality food at what it deems to be a reasonable price point.
Amelie offers cheese and charcuterie boards along with an extensive, international wine list. Nightly flights come with three tastings for $17 (or $13 during happy hour, which is Mon-Thurs from 4-6pm and Sunday from 12-6pm).
Popular menu items include Amelie’s Lamb Burger; Baked Camembert (with Thyme infused honey, rosemary and confit garlic); and Escargot.
Michelin recommends Amelie’s warm pistachio crusted goat cheese ball drizzled with honey and onion marmalade and its ravioli with stuffed with Comté and cottage cheese poached with butternut squash, mushrooms, sage and toasted hazelnuts;
5. Jacob’s Pickles
509 Amsterdam Ave (between 84th and 85th Streets)
Jacob’s Pickles has been a neighborhood staple since it opened in 2011. Famous for its southern comfort food, its menu is hard to beat and hard to find in the area, both of which likely account for the always busy scene inside and out. The specialty here is the southern biscuit but the hard part is choosing which one. Honey chicken and pickles? Southern B.L.T.? BBQ Smothered Pepper Jack Chicken? Don’t sleep on the cheese grits or the meatloaf either. No matter what you pick, prepare to share or take some home (or save for later if ordering in). Pair any menu item with Jacob’s selection of craft brews, and of course pickles: Special Sours, Hot Sour Cukes, Big Dill Kosher Cukes, Horseradish Cukes, Dilly Green Beans, Candy Red Beets, Sweet & Spicy Carrots, and Thyme Jalapenos.
6. Sala Thai
307 Amsterdam Avenue (between 74th and 75th Streets)
The Infatuation urged Upper West Siders to make Sala Thai a go-to neighborhood Thai spot and it seems that we took that advice. Popular items are The Pad Thai, Pad Se-Ew, Green Curry, Por Pia Tod (Crispy Spring Roll), Kea Mao, and Panang Curry. Load up on traditional appetizers – including Chicken Satay, Curry Puffs, and Thai Veggie Dumplings – or the numerous curry or entrée options. The restaurant also has a bevy of signature cocktails and a beer menu with offerings from Maine, Louisiana, Thailand, the UK, Belgium, Germany, and Colorado. And the interior … have you seen that skylight?
434 Amsterdam Avenue (at 81st Street)
Salil Mehta brought his version of Southeast Asian street food to the neighborhood in September 2021 and hasn’t looked back. The world-renowned chef’s “humble and homey” menu, much of it family style, offers thirteen signature dishes: Surf and Turf Malaysian style, Rendang Beef, Northern-Thai style Chilean Sea Bass, Pineapple- Flower Fish Curry, Singapore Chilli Crab, Claypot Golden Tofu, Ayam Penyet, Malaysian Red Curry, Stir Fried Kangkung, Charred Lobster Tail, Indonesian Rawon (oxtail soup), Farmers Krapow Basil – ground chicken with egg, and Penang Fish. Diners can also choose from eight rice and noodle dishes and three original desserts – Thai Tiramisu, Lychee Crème Brule, and Sweet Cigars with Coconut Kaya. It’s a “compact space, with booths seating 45, and a bar for 10, all done with vintage latticework and colorful upholstery. An enclosed sidewalk area, with 65 spots, is strung with sparkly lights and little Malaysian moon kites called ‘wau,’ the inspiration for the name.”
665 Amsterdam Avenue (between 92nd and 93rd streets)
The mid-1990s inspired a game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The premise was that any actor could be connected to the fellow thespian through six movies or less. On the Upper West Side, a connection to him is only one degree away at Gennaro.
What does Gennaro have to do with Kevin Bacon? It’s a favorite restaurant of his wife, fellow UWS celebrity Kyra Segdwick. And with good reason! The cozy neighborhood favorite is known for serving up fairly priced, considerably sized classic Italian dishes since 1996. Diners have no shortage of menu choices from the antipasti to the sweets, from the broccoli di rabe to the eleven pasta dishes to the twelve main dishes. Panzanella, polenta, spaghetti alla chitarra, carpaccio caldo con asparagi, tiramisu … it’s easy to get carried away.
As one diner put it, “Gennaro is the type of old-school Italian spot that’s perfect for Sunday night dinners with your family.” If you are familiar with the importance of Sunday dinners in an Italian family, then you know what a true compliment that is.
One word of advice before you head over to the restaurant: bring cash. No plastic or electronic payments are accepted.
108 West 74th Street (between Amsterdam and Columbus)
There’s no shortage of Mediterranean options on the UWS, that’s for certain. Despite the abundance, Leyla tops the charts. If you’re looking for an upscale and ambient option, look no further.
Noted for its phenomenal hospitality, Leyla is a modern Turkish place that can cover lots of occasions. Think Mother’s Day brunch, romantic date, or cocktails at a modern bar. The space is big enough to fit you and your extended family. And the dining room is attractive and spacious enough to guarantee you can always get a table with a date. For just about everything, this is the spot.
It also happens to be the spot for things like flatbreads, lamb shank with mushroom risotto, and eggplant caviar. All of which are delicious. The options for ordering plates to share are endless. Pick between “mezzes” and “pides” or artful salads for healthy eaters. Those looking to indulge can feast on flavorful branzino, Turkish pasta, and lamb shanks alike.
10. The Consulate
519 Columbus Avenue (at 85th Street)
Founder Metodija Mihajlov’s mission to “take diners on a tasting tour across the globe” has been a great success on the Upper West Side since it opened its doors in November 2019. Though primarily focused on American and French cuisine, including “brunch favorites blueberry cast iron pancakes, classic eggs benedict and beet and gin cured salmon,” a seasonal menu and daily specials from “different regions of the world” are curated by executive Chef Alan Vargas. Some popular lunch and dinner plates are the French onion soup, Mommy’s Grilled Cheese, and the short rib cavatelli. Check out the menu section of the website for a picture of every dish.