The 5 Biggest Food & Drink Openings of 2023

  Last modified on April 29th, 2024

Like it does every year, the Upper West Side’s retail ecosystem saw a substantial amount of change in 2023. Now that the year is coming to a close, we’re highlighting the biggest restaurant and bar openings the neighborhood has seen since January. And by ‘biggest,’ we mean those which created the most buzz and were most eagerly anticipated.

You know, “big news” places. We’re not saying they’ve all necessarily lived up to their expectations.

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Also, we’ve limited this list to places which actually opened in 2023.

Scarlet Lounge, 468 Amsterdam Ave (82nd / 83rd streets)

Michael Imperioli moved to the Upper West Side a few years ago. In December, the actor best known for portraying Christopher on “The Sopranos” teamed up with Jeremy Wladis of The Restaurant Group to open Scarlet Lounge, a cocktail lounge positioned right next to Fred’s, a beloved UWS institution with very different vibes. For obvious reasons, Scarlet got a massive amount of press and a very warm welcome when it opened. Reviews appear mixed so far, though it’s probably too early to judge. scarletloungenyc.com

La Caridad, 130 West 72nd Street

La Caridad returned to the Upper West Side in November, though the Cuban Chinese restaurant is now at a new location under new owners. The original, on 78th and Broadway, closed in 2020 after serving the Upper West Side since 1968. As we considered it one of the biggest closings of 2020, it’s only fair to include its resurrection on this much more pleasant list. Reviews are very strong so far. @la_caridad72

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Panera, 2333 Broadway (at 85th Street)

Like it or not, the September opening of Panera was a source of major excitement for some in the neighborhood, and that excitement began right after we announced it would be opening (which was more than a year before it actually did). For us, the waiting period was filled with many emails from readers asking if we knew when the American chain with over 2,000 locations would start serving the UWS. Anyway, the reviews are very bad. panerabread.com/2333-broadway

ALSO READ: These Are the Best Restaurants on the Upper West Side

The Wallace Lounge, 242 West 76th Street


This piano bar and cocktail lounge opened in March at The Wallace Hotel, and people were excited for something new. The Wallace Lounge offers live music and has vibes that have been described as both “chic” and “cozy.” Reviews are mostly positive on both Yelp (4.6) and Google (4.7), though some people point out that it’s a bit too pricey (cocktails range from $18-$35). thewallace.com/lounge

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Bad Roman, The Shops at Columbus Circle

This Quality Branded restaurant opened in February in the space formerly occupied by Landmarc, which closed back in 2019. Buzz was plentiful given the snazzy location and the people behind the eatery (Quality Branded owns and manages restaurants like Quality Meats, Smith & Wollensky and Don Angie). While Bad Roman has left a bad taste in some mouths – with words like “overhyped” and “average” used as common descriptors for what some see as an elaborate influencer-trap – the “playful, maximalist Italian restaurant” has become one of the hardest-to-book venues in the city. badromannyc.com

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