These Are the Best Restaurants on the Upper West Side

  Last modified on May 14th, 2024

You may have, at some point, heard someone call the Upper West Side a food desert. Well, that’s definitely not the case … at least not anymore! While it’s obviously somewhat subjective, this article outlines what we believe to be the very best restaurants on the Upper West Side – from cozy and classic to upscale, innovative and modern.

Below, you’ll find the very best Upper West Side restaurants, listed in alphabetical order: just so you know there’s truly no significant meaning to which restaurants got featured first.

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Amelie

Baked Camembert de Normandie with garlic confit, rosemary and a toasted baguette

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.

amelieupperwest.com | 566 Amsterdam Avenue (between 87th and 88th streets)

Bánh Vietnamese Shop House

banh upper west side

Bánh

Bánh Vietnamese Shop House opened as a popup during Halloween 2020 and had its official grand opening in Jan. 2021. The former occupant at this address was La Toulousaine, which closed in 2019. Bánh was a huge hit right away, processing over 1,100 orders during its soft-opening weekend and quickly receiving high praise from media outlets including Eater and Gothamist. The Upper West Side restaurant offers its guests Bánh Mì (Vietnamese sandwiches), Pho (noodle soup), steamed rice rolls, traditional Vietnamese rice cake wrapped in banana leaves, crispy pork belly, banana ice cream and more.

www.tastenote.app | 942 Amsterdam Avenue (between 106th and 107th Streets)

Barney Greengrass

barney greengrass lox bagel

Photo: Edsel Little via Flickr

The legend of Barney Greengrass runs deep. The City’s Sturgeon King has been providing New Yorkers with beloved Jewish fare for over 100 years. If you are looking for smoked fish, herring, gefilte fish, potato salad, blintzes and latkes, bagels, bialys, babka, rugelach, black-and-white cookies, this is your place.

Its renowned cuisine is matched only by its renowned clientele. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered up a shipment of smoked sturgeon for Thanksgiving in in Warm Springs, GA. Alfred Hitchcock had Greengrass ship sturgeon to him in Los Angeles. It was one of Nora Ephron’s favorite neighborhood restaurants and was featured in her love letter to the Upper West Side, You’ve Got Mail. Marilyn Monroe, Brad Pitt, and Jerry Seinfeld have all been customers. Anthony Bourdain was a regular. In the early days, Al Jolson, George Burns, and Willie McCovey indulged frequently.

The interior of the store has also been featured as a backdrop in TV shows including “Law and Order,” “30 Rock,” and “Billions,” as well as films including Revolutionary Road and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.

The “proudly unreconstructed bastion of the Jewish-appetizing tradition, from bagels and lox to sturgeon and eggs” is open Tuesday through Sunday. Check the website for hours but be prepared to wait for weekend brunch. It’s worth it.

barneygreengrass.com | 541 Amsterdam Avenue (between 86th and 87th streets)

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Boulud Sud

boulud sud Upper West Side Restaurant

Photo: angela n. via Flickr

Daniel Boulud’s upscale Mediterranean and French restaurant near Lincoln Center offers its patrons seasonal fare, fresh vegetables and seafood, and an extensive wine list.

The seafood section should bring your attention to a wonderful dover sole prepared with lemon, olives, capers and brown butter. The Mediterranean sea bass, also a winner, is served with spring peas, walnut and green cardamom tahini.

The pasta happy hour is a daily celebration; after 9pm between Sundays and Thursdays and after 10pm on Friday and Saturday. All pasta is half-priced and served in the bar and lounge. Boulud Sud’s pasta is made-in house using freshly ground local and Italian flavors. Their organic eggs are made at a farm in Pennsylvania.

Another ongoing special is “Paella Sundays”. This traditional Paella dinner comes with family-style tapas, paella “Valenciana,” churros and a glass of Sangria for $49 per person.

The wine list offers reds, whites, roses and champagnes from France, Spain, Italy, Greece and California, with a separate menu for dessert wines.

bouludsud.com/nyc | 20 West 64th Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue)

Cafe Luxembourg

Cafe Luxembourg Upper West Side Restaurant

Cafe Luxembourg’s Lobster Roll

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.

cafeluxembourg.com | 200 West 70th Street (between Amsterdam and West End avenues)

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Dagon

Upper West Side Restaurant dagon

Dagon’s Crispy Roasted Lamb

The Israeli and Mediterranean restaurant opened on Valentine’s Day of 2021 and has been getting showered with praise ever since.

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.”

dagonnyc.com | 2454 Broadway (at 91st Street)

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Elea

Elea Restaurant Upper West Side

Elea’s sesame crusted feta

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.

eleanyc.com | 217 West 85th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)

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Essential by Christophe

beet tartare essential by christophe

Essential by Christophe’s Beet Tartare

This French restaurant by Chef Christophe Bellanca opened in December 2022 at the former home of Dovetail and the more recent former home of Leonti.

While it’s one of the newest Upper West Side restaurants 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.

Additional seafoods and meats include a wild black bass, skate, lobster, venison, duck, poularde, sole, blue prawns, and chicken with a black truffle consommé.

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.

essentialbychristophe.com | 103 West 77th Street (at Columbus Avenue)

Gennaro

gennaro nyc

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.

gennaronyc.com | 665 Amsterdam Avenue (between 92nd and 93rd streets)

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Jacob’s Pickles

upper west side restaurants

Jacob’s famous chicken + pancakes

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.

ALSO READ: Jacob’s Pickles is MOVING

jacobs.picklehospitality.com | 509 Amsterdam Ave (between 84th and 85th Streets)

La Pecora Bianca

Cacio-e-Pepe-la-pecora-bianca

La Pecora Bianca’s Cacio e Pepe

This popular Italian restaurant opened in June 2022 at the former home of Isabella’s (though it was more recently home to 8th Hill, which opened in mid-2019 and closed in August 2020).

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.

lapecorabianca.com | 359 Columbus Avenue (at 77th Street)

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Leyla

Lamb Shank Leyla NYC

Lamb shank, slow cooked with porcini orzo risotto.

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 (which opened in 2019) 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.

leylanyc.com | 108 West 74th Street (between Amsterdam and Columbus)

Miriam

miriam potato pancakes

Miriam’s potato pancakes (on the brunch menu) are served with two eggs, Labneh cheese and Israeli salad

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!

miriamrestaurant.com | 300 Amsterdam Avenue (at 74th Street)

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Ortomare Ristorante Pizzeria

ortomare pizza pies

You may have missed this authentic Italian joint as it’s a bit off the beaten path (at 109th and Columbus Avenue), but it might be worth making the trek for its homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and traditional Italian desserts. Ortomare opened in 2019 with positive reviews right out of the gate, with many customers praising their reasonable price tags for superb food. The Margherita pie is a crowd favorite, and the restaurant’s low-key vibes keep their customers coming back long term. Popular pastas include Ortomare’s gnocchi and pappardelle, and you’ll definitely want to save enough room for their tiramisu and Panna Cotta. They’ve also got impressive wine and cocktail lists, and it’s a good spot for outdoor drinking when the weather allows it.

ortomare.com | 994 Columbus Avenue at 109th Street

Sala Thai

Pad Thai Bolan

Pad Thai Bolan: Rice Noodles, Prawns, Bean sprouts, Red Onion, Culantro Leaves, String Beans, Peanuts, Bean Curd and Egg Net.

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?

salathainyc.com | 307 Amsterdam Avenue (between 74th and 75th Streets)

Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi

Less than a year after Chef Kwame Onwuachi opened Tatiana, the Afro Caribbean-inspired restaurant located at the recently renovated David Geffen Hall was recognized as the best restaurant in New York City by the New York Times.

“We needed Tatiana,” wrote New York Times critic Pete Wells in April 2023. “We needed a kitchen that puts Caribbean and African and Black American cooking, too often kept in the city’s margins, right at center stage. We needed to taste the way Kwame Onwuachi focuses and concentrates the flavors of oxtails, goat curry, chopped cheese and other items without losing sight of their roots.”

A year later, Tatiana once again secured the number one position in the Times’ list of the top 100 restaurants in NYC.

“Deep into its second year, after much of the hype about Mr. Onwuachi’s spirited rundown of Black cooking styles in New York (Southern, Caribbean, West African, bodega-esque) has blown over, Tatiana remains among the very few places in town where reservations are truly hard to come by,” wrote Wells in 2024.

While online reviews are mixed – Tatiana has a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars on both Google and Yelp – a large chunk of negative feedback appears to be centered around reservation delays and slow service. We’re not discounting these as unimportant, but the vast majority of public feedback about the actual food is positive.

Will this Upper West Side restaurant be crowned best in NYC again?

tatiananyc.com | 519 Columbus Avenue (at 85th Street)

The Consulate

Consulate Brunch

The Consulate’s Burrata Waffle. Photo by Adrienne Cooper.

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, includingbrunch 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.

uws.theconsulate.nyc | 519 Columbus Avenue (at 85th Street)

Wau

Upper West Side Restaurant Wau

Charred Lobster Tail with Singaporean noodle and salted egg.

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.”

waunyc.com | 434 Amsterdam Avenue (at 81st Street)


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