PRAISE — AND SOME RECOMMENDATIONS — FOR UPPER WEST SIDE RESTAURANTS

la caridad 78
La Caridad made a critic’s list of top Upper West Side restaurants. Photo by Gary Stevens.

Months after the New York Post’s food critic described the Upper West Side food scene as “craptastic”, another food writer has ventured into the neighborhood and proclaimed it has “lots to offer,” and at a wide range of price points.

Robert Sietsema of the food website Eater traversed our boulevards and byways and picked out 22 restaurants worth your money. It’s a very eclectic list, from some fancier restaurants to a wide range of affordable spots, including several spicy destinations in Manhattan Valley. It includes important historical eateries, like Barney Greengrass and new restaurants like The Milling Room and Jin Ramen. Sietsema also adds details about the neighborhood’s history, from San Juan Hill to the origins of Chinese-Cuban joint La Caridad.

Here’s who made the cut. Check out the full article for info on locations and descriptions of each restaurant.

Lincoln Center Kitchen

Shun Lee West

Old John’s Luncheonette

Epicerie Boulud

Big Nick’s (the one on 71st, no longer owned by the original Nick)

Gray’s Papaya

Simit & Smith

Salumeria Rosi

Freddie & Pepper’s

Fairway Cafe

Caffe Storrico

Tessa

La Caridad 78

Nice Matin

The Milling Room

Jin Ramen

Bustan

Machiavelli

Barney Greengrass

Regional

Curry King

Makana

Thai Market

FOOD | 49 comments | permalink
    1. Lou Neebin says:

      No Jacob’s Pickles? Not a legit list.

    2. denton says:

      Can we replace Gray’s Papaya with Per Se and/or Jean Georges? It does say 59th Street, after all.

    3. Dale says:

      Gray’s Papaya? Really? No offense, but that place not only has terrible (food?), but it reeks like vomit and trash.

      I have trouble imagining Daniel Bouloud’s reaction upon discovering his cuisine is on the same “must eat” list as Gray’s Papaya.

    4. Nelson says:

      To borrow a phrase from CNN, this is “The Ridiculist.”

    5. RamenMonster says:

      The real Jin is on 125th and Broadway. Same menu, bigger portions, less money. Drinks alone $2/3 less. For the same drinks.

      ’nuff said

      • ibhande says:

        Leave it to americans to want larger portions

      • sophia says:

        I’m sure that Jin in the 80s pays a heftier rent that translates into higher priced food & drink!

        • RamenMonster says:

          Perhaps yes. But they are also aware that people will pay those amounts as they are already located on the worlds greatest stretch of overpriced mediocrity, Amsterdam avenue below 86th.

    6. Jay says:

      Eater’s rave reviews are up for sale.

    7. Mark says:

      La Caridad? I know that these people want to come across as eclectic and cool, but has this person actually eaten the food there?

      • zeus says:

        Hey Mark,
        Time to get a taste buds transplant.

        I have been eating at La Caridad for over 30 years.
        Never, I mean – NEVER, had a bad meal there.
        It’s the best Cuban food on the UWS, or for that matter, Manhattan.
        I don’t do Chinese food there, but the Cuban cuisine is superb.

        BTW-you can get the transplant at the place itself, assuming you know what to order.

        • RK says:

          AMEN! Love La Caridad
          Their prices have skyrocketed over the last few years but we still eat there because its so good

        • Kenneth says:

          I have often walked past La Caridad and mused about stopping in one day and ordering the pigs feet – something my mother made from time to time when I was a kid. My wife however has threatened divorce. I am glad to know it is possible to eat there for 30 years and live.

    8. Charlie says:

      Hey ! What about The Emerald Inn????

    9. scott says:

      Any update on last night’s town hall meeting at 191?

    10. Bob says:

      Well, that list sucks

    11. Sean says:

      Food on the UWS sucks. It always has. The overhead on a restaurant is impossible. The Bloomberg era gave you Food Trucks as a solution. Big deal! I bet fire insurance is a factor too for the property owners. And the smells! We like take out here and Chinese.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “Food on the UWS sucks. It always has.”

        NICE (but moronic) GENERALIZATION…unless you’ve been to EVERY SINGLE RESTAURANT MULTIPLE TIMES (as REAL food reviewer writers do) in the UWS’s 2 Sq. miles!!

        Re: “The Bloomberg era gave you Food Trucks as a solution.”

        Whoopsy-daisy, here we go again! YET ANOTHER THING MAYOR BLOOMBERG DID WRONG! Whadda tewwibble tewibble man…and he’s a billionaire ALSO! We should just tar-n-feather him…oh, oh, wait! Here’s a better punishment: make him listen to and watch a 24-hour loop of Bernie-The-Socialist’s speeches!

      • MJ says:

        Please move to Williamsburg.

      • Craig says:

        What a ridiculous rant.

    12. JD says:

      I go to La Caridad all the time. Great food, portions at a reasonable price.

    13. Eric says:

      Big Nicks??? jeez

    14. Mark says:

      Nice Matin has gone downhill. Food is often flavorless and the decibel level is deafening.

    15. Vera says:

      What about Ocean?!

    16. anne says:

      what about Red Farm? In my opinion, it’s among the best any where in this town, and right here on B’way bet 76 and 77th….

    17. MaryJo says:

      Ok, so the list is not subdivided into categories of fine cuisine and budget fare. So what? It’s a list of noteworthy places to eat….LA Caridad actually has fantastic food. I ran by there after work for rice and beans many nights while on a serious budget. Shun Lee West was always my favorite upscale Chinese fare. What I’m wondering is why Telepan didn’t make the list….

    18. Robert C. Greenstone says:

      The Upper Westside has seen restaurants come and go, as it has throughout Manhattan; and while competition is a great way to keep everyone on their toes, the culprit is the rent landlords demand. High quality restaurants like Ouest can’t survive because the combination of quality food costs and rent take a disproportionate percentage of eating establishments’ expenses unless menu prices are raised to unaffordable prices. Retail rents should only be a fixed percentage of sales volume – which has a limit. Fine dining is relegated to mostly dinner hours making it even more precarious because lunch is a low-cost affair, if at all. $17 bottles of wine are marked up to $80 in an effort to realize necessary profits. TABLE-TURNS AND VOLUME COUNTS. Because families make up such a large percentage of the residential population on the Upper Westside (vs. areas such as midtown, which attracts business and tourist traffic), the pressure is on to deliver price-sensitive menus to cost-conscious customers. Every Upper Westsider knows where to find a great meal in Manhattan. They taxi or Uber to restaurants in Tribeca or Nolita. But in their own turf, Westsiders shop for foods at Fairway, Citarella, etc. and make food for their families at home or look they for reasonably priced restaurants. The net effect is simply a “decent” array of “joints” rather than great dining. The way landlords derive at retail rents is ridiculous, at best. They hear that “Bob got $350 per square foot for his space, so I’ll ask $400 a square foot.” As consumers, we pay the rent, or the restaurant closes. Everything gets passed on to the consumer. There is no margin for error. You can name your favorite restaurant, but they are all in the same boat.

    19. Julia says:

      If you are really going all the way to 110th, HENRY’S at the NW corner of 105th and Broadway is great (the food plus the tables are situated so it’s not noisy), plus Cascabel on the SW corner of 108th and Broadway.

    20. TomTom says:

      Big Nicks sucks

    21. UWSEater says:

      If you actually read the article, you will see that the restaurants are classified by price level (Cheap, Moderate, Expensive). Robert Sietsema is probably one of the only good parts left of eater.com, and his eating / walking tour lists are usually pretty good, this one included. I don’t love all the recommendations, but leaving off over hyped places like extremely mediocre pickle place, and mentioning under represented places like Makana, Regional and Curry King is refreshing. If you want a list of the same UWS places, zagats and tripadvisor can scratch that itch.

    22. randy resnick says:

      What you listed and what you did not tells me you’re lost. Move to a jersey ‘burb. They got Wendy’s.

    23. Bob says:

      anyone surprised Isabella’s didn’t make the list?

    24. lisa says:

      At least some yummy bakeries (albeit not cheap) such as Georgia & Aliou’s, Silver Moon and others.

      And going further north near Columbia, Kitchenette – baked good and “comfort” food.

      Do miss Soutine Bakery though.

    25. Red Raleigh says:

      I would also add:
      ‘Cesca
      Celeste
      Flor de Mayo
      Cotta
      Mermaid Inn
      Bettola
      Gennaro
      ..and about a dozen more..

    26. R.P. says:

      The problem is that these people haven’t taken the time to really eat up here, and they’re not from around here. The UWS has amazing food, and if you don’t know that then it’s because you’re not supposed to know. I like not having a bunch of hipster kids or prep school douchebags crowding my space.

      Go ahead, stay below 14th street or Williamsburgh. Thanks

    27. Brian G says:

      I would also add Piccolo Cafe as one of my top choices.

    28. Margot says:

      Han Dynasty – fantastic!