Ok, Let’s Debate New York Magazine’s ‘Best Upper West Side Restaurants’ List


Awadh on Broadway and 98th made the list.

Food critics routinely dismiss the Upper West Side as the flyover state of the New York City restaurant world, so for someone to even go to the trouble of making a list of the “best” local restaurants is a kind of triumph. That said, maybe it’s not a triumph at all, because this new list from New York magazine is a highly debatable list, isn’t it?

Reviewer Joshua David Stein wrote that the UWS is “hell if you’re in a rush.” He tried to celebrate the neighborhood’s true spirit, not necessarily the finest local spots — because some of those spots are actually offshoots, like The Ribbon. (Also, maybe that’s why Red Farm didn’t make the list?) Anyhow, here’s the list, and yes please debate his choices in the comments.

1. Leonti
103 W. 77th St., nr. Columbus Ave

2. Oxbow Tavern
240 Columbus Ave., nr. 71st St.

3. Shun Lee West
43 W. 65th St.

4. Awadh
2588 Broadway, nr. 98th St

5. Café Luxembourg
200 W. 70th St., nr. Amsterdam Ave.

6. Boulud Sud
20 W. 64th St., nr. Broadway

7. Absolute Bagels
2788 Broadway, nr. 108th St.

8. Fine & Schapiro
138 W. 72nd St., nr. Columbus Ave.

9. The Milling Room
446 Columbus Ave., nr. 82nd St.

10. 108 Food Dried Hot Pot
2794 Broadway, nr. 108th St.

11. Mama’s Too!
2750 Broadway, nr. 108th St.

12. Sushi Kaito
244 W. 72nd St., nr. West End Ave.

13. Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 87th St.

14. Murray’s Sturgeon
2429 Broadway, nr. 89th St.

15. 74th Street Cafe & Steakhouse
2121 Broadway, nr. 74th St.

16. Gray’s Papaya
2090 Broadway, nr. 72nd St.

17. Celeste
502 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 84th St.

18. Ayurveda Cafe
706 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 94th St.

FOOD | 147 comments | permalink
    1. Moira Joan Dolan says:

      Absolutely Awadh! Gennaro’s should be on there too. Have to try Leonti one of these days.

    2. UWS foodie says:

      This list is sad. Oxbow is over rated for sure. Grays papaya? Please. It’s hotdogs. Maybe for nostalgia but don’t include in top 20 best spots. Leonti is only there for being ex John Frasier spot. Absolute Bagels? Jesus. Again not for restaurants list. Milling Room is a BEAUTIFUL spot but idk about #9 best food.

    3. Angelica L. Walker says:

      Ayurveda, Absolute Bagels and Awadh are all great. Aagan at 103rd street is also really fine.

    4. Jason says:

      You cannot leave sirenetta off this list of you want to be taken seriously.

    5. Sherman says:

      In my humble opinion Celeste is the best restaurant on the UWS. The food is always awesome and high quality and it is very reasonably priced.

      There’s not a lot of elbow room, however.

      • SP says:

        Celeste is very good, Gennaro is infinitely better in every possible way. Which is why it is so insane that they aren’t even mentioned in passing.

      • Joe says:

        We went to Celeste for dinner once, years ago, and the waiter and manager were so appallingly rude to us that we walked out without dinner. I will never set foot in there again.

    6. Liz says:

      This list is terrible. There are like two good spots on here.

    7. Max says:

      What about café du soleil !!!!! It should be number one for sure

    8. Sean says:

      Why isn’t The Bagel Nosh on this list? The UWS peaked for restaurants 35 years ago. That’s when there was a scene and the area was hip. There were actually people out and about after 10pm on weeknights. The list is pathetic.

    9. Lauren says:

      What about Maison Pickle?! Some of the best cocktails on the UWS and great food!

    10. UWSHebrew says:

      Murray’s Sturgeon makes this list (I walked out once I saw the prices per pound), but Han Dynasty (my personal #1 UWS place) is omitted? For shame.

    11. Irate Partisan says:

      And WHERE is LEGEND 72, reliable purveyor of the finest Chongqing Chicken between West 59th and 84th Streets?????????? Has this NY Mag “CRITIC” ever been to the UWS or did “Joshua” simply spend a few hours waltzing through Choice Chowhound Diatribes?

    12. Jean-Charles says:

      Leonti overpriced and underwhelming. Oxbow ok only because
      it’s on UWS. Fine & Schapiro, seriously? Boulud Sud for sure and Cafe Luxembourg a longtime neighborhood favorite for many good reasons.

    13. Christine E says:

      Bodega 88 needs to be discovered. Brilliantly creative, affordable Latin dishes and nice cocktails too.

    14. UWSmom says:

      Agree on Celeste and Barney Greengrass.

      Ayurveda seems a strange niche choice.

    15. Robert Goodman says:

      A sorry list indeed. For the few things on offer I like The Milling Room and no corkage Tuesdays are good to have. But when you have to go with franks with tropical drinks, bagels with their smoked fish accompaniments, and second rate pastrami and still can’t get to 20 you’re in deep trouble. The chap couldn’t have been trying

    16. PedestrianJustice says:

      Sala Thai is a terrific new addition to the UWS. 74th and Amsterdam. Fresh and appropriately spicy when you assure them that you want it Thai spicy.

      Wondering why the always-packed Sushi Yasaka [Sushi Kaito’s sister restaurant across the street on 72nd] didn’t make the cut. Great value and reliable quality fish.

      • Sprinkles says:

        Sushi Yasaka is a gem. The fact that it’s not on the list, along with Mermaid Inn, takes away all credibility.

    17. luke says:

      why isnt mcdonalds on 95th st not on list

    18. chris woo says:

      fyi per huffpost Joshua David Stein
      Contributor
      Joshua David Stein, a 26 year-old writer living in Williamsburg …

      absolute bagels has the most amazing Egg Bagels so yes should be on the list.
      Celeste used to be better. Milling Room? meh.
      Gray’s hotdogs are waaay too salty. Maybe Jin Ramen should be on there. Overall not learned anything interesting from that list so clearly he is not qualified.

      • MikeDNYC says:

        I wonder what research if any went into crafting this list.
        Seema like something like this:
        Here are the 10 best streets on the UWS– 76th, 111th, 85th, etc. No rationale.
        And no Rosa Mexicano on the list?
        Fraud list. Fake news.

    19. Gabrielle says:

      Jacobs Pickles should be represented here. Just saying

      • Anya says:

        Yes… anybody who is willing to stand in Line to get into Jacob’s Pickle would concur!

        Opening up soon a fourth restaurant in our hood, after success with the first, the owner deserves a top spot on the list.

      • MENACHE DANIELE says:

        Agree with adding Maison Pickle, Rosa Mexicano, Mermaid Inn (Sirenetta), Gennaro, sushi Yasaka, Gari and Tessa. Take out Papaya, Absolut bagels, Murray? Not a restaurant.

    20. Penny says:

      Gray’s Papaya is both not good and not even a real restaurant. Weird list.

    21. UWSer says:

      Barney Greengrass is an overpriced tourist trap. But without it the list just shrinks. Loved the reporter’s characterization of the UWS as a flyover state! Oh, I do like Naruto Ramen, although that’s a bit of a chain.

    22. Zeneida Disla says:

      No French Roast or Cafe Lalo? No Harriet’s?
      No Fred’s?

    23. Zanarkand says:

      Shun Lee? No way. Way overpriced for essentially PF Changs in NYC.

      Let’s not even mention that Maison Pickle and Sun-Chan aren’t on this list…and they even put the wrong 72nd street sushi place on here.

    24. Jay says:

      The fact that Gray’s papaya is on this list makes the whole thing suspect.

    25. Ted says:

      Typical meat heavy list. I’m so over this. People need to get with it and go vegan. This list is insulting.

    26. Mark Moore says:

      I used to defend the UWS against people who said the dining scene there is sub par, until I saw this list.

    27. Jackie says:

      West side Rag should make their own list – perhaps a readers choice list. No one knows better than the people who live here and I surely could use some different places to try!

    28. alan says:

      did anyone consider the health ratings when making this list
      several of the places listed have been closed by the board of health and now have less then an A rating

    29. UWS Guy says:

      No Tessa or Salumeria Rossi? Might be the two best restaurants on the uws and they are behind a bagel place? What a joke….

    30. Kitty H says:

      Cibo e Vino (89th & B’wy) has it all: fine quality northern Italian food, good prices, and charming atmosphere conducive to conversation, an increasing rarity, now. No UWS list can be regarded seriously without its inclusion.

    31. Hello, it’s JDS, I wrote the list. Here for questions and comments. I love West Side Rag so figured why not mix it up.

      To answer some questions off the bat: No, I do not live in the UWS. I live in Kensington, Brooklyn. I am also no longer a 26-year-old writer but a 38-year-old one. I did however live on the UWS (Morningside Heights) for years and am frequently up there.

      Another thing to consider is that in creating the list I tried not to be too duplicative in terms of genres. Thus if Absolute is mentioned, I wouldn’t put another bagel place, if that makes sense.

      Anyway, happy to address any of the concerns raised. I’ll also take praise, fwiw.

      • West Sider says:

        Thanks JDS! Quick question from the Rag: why not include any of the “Pickle” restaurants –Jacob’s, Maison and Lucky? They are very popular up here.

        • Hello West Sider,

          First thing I want to say is that I’m speaking strictly from my personal point of view. The following shouldn’t be construed as the opinion of Grub Street or NYM. Just me. But again, I am responsible for the list.

          As for Jacob’s Pickle, Maison PIckle and Lucky Pickle Dumpling. So part of my criteria for the list was sort of a vector. On one axis you have uniqueness to the UWS, whether it was a level of historicity or a sort of resonance for the neighborhood. On the other you have the level of execution of the food. So Shun Lee and Gray’s — whose inclusion I note has gotten a lot of pushback — score pretty highly on what I might call the sociological or cultural index. Places like Leonti and Oxbow (despite the opinion of a few of your commenters) score quite highly on the culinary acuity. They also have a fair amount of history to each, if not in their current iteration than in the space they occupy.

          The Pickle Hospitality Places, again in my opinion, though popular as you note, are middling in both regards. I think the food is…fine but not noteworthy. And I don’t see — though I might be wrong — anything beyond an accident of location that they are in the UWS. Murray’s Sturgeon, on the other hand and by way of counterpoint, could ONLY exist in the UWS. Does that make sense?

      • Ted says:

        Hey Josh… You left off Peace Food, Blossom, and Saravanaa Bhavan which are all vegetarian but you included a disgusting hot dog stand!?! Great job on your genres. Unbelievable!

      • jsc says:

        What about Thai Market and Saiguette? Or even something like Xi’an (or is that considered a chain)

      • Pegomyhrt says:

        Your sneering, snarky, dismissive attitude toward the populace of this neighborhood as described in the article disqualifies you from criticizing anything. The inclusion of Shun Lee West marks you as coming from an actual flyover state.

      • Concerned Citizen says:

        Thanks for jumping into the conversation (you could also see my other comment below).

      • Roger Bilco says:

        Josh, have you tried Gennaro? I’m curious how you came to place Celeste above it.

      • DC says:

        @ Ted, regarding vegan/vegetarian options… YES!

      • Vanessa says:

        You obviously can’t make a list and please everyone so in light of these responses I’m just going to say thanks for putting a spotlight on some of these places and giving some suggestions of places to try! I look forward to reading more of your pieces 🙂

      • DER says:

        Without trying to be disrespectful – all of us who live on the UWS agree that this list is well….ridiculous. It’s kind of like you just slapped some places you kind of tried, but really did not engage and seek out places with any great effort. Gray’s Papaya? Really? We are offended and disappointed. Back to the drawing board for you, sir.

      • patrick says:

        Hey Joshua! Thanks for jumping in.. I love both NYMag and Grubstreet (and Vulture, but i digress). Just wondering what kind of research goes into a piece like this? I am interested because NYMag puts out so many “Best Of” lists and am wondering how much time and how many visits you make to different restaurants?

    32. UWSer says:

      Shun Lee is a joke of a Chinese restaurant. Overpriced mediocre-to-bad Chinese food. The decor and service are slightly better than most Chinese restaurants which misleads diners into believing they are getting higher quality food. Don’t be fooled. My Taiwanese immigrant parents thought it was horrible when I brought them there. I had serious GI problems after my last meal there and refuse to go back. Clearly this guy is uninformed.

    33. SB says:

      Any list which includes Shun Lee West has to be a complete joke…

      The place is a health hazard and likewise has a 2.5 star Yelp rating.

    34. Foodie A says:

      Sushi Kaito is delicious and the ambiance of Milling Room is very nice (setting aside the hit or miss food), but they’ve missed basically all of the truly good spots on the UWS. What about Sirenetta and Mermaid Inn? What about Mokum? What about Jacob’s Pickles or Sala Thai or Tessa or Salumeria Rossi?

    35. Westy says:

      Shun Lee is s joke. Over-priced and over-rated. No idea why it is on this list. And Murray’s Sturgeon is not a restaurant.
      This list needs a re-do.

    36. Jeff says:

      Best bagels are at Tal on Broadway 90th. Their bialys are even better.

    37. Carly says:

      Agree with a lot of folks, Oxbow Tavern is mediocre. And Gray’s Papaya is overrated. This list is so sad! It doesn’t have Maison Pickle or Jacob’s Pickles which are popular UWS staples. WSR, please start a reader’s recommendation list!

    38. Jeff says:

      The best chicken on the uws: Malecon, Bdwy & 97. A tie for my favorite Thai places: Thai 72 & Senn.

    39. Ken Sherrill says:

      I don’t see how you could overlook La Sirene UWS. It’s much better than Luxembourg.

    40. B.W. says:

      This is a saaaaad list. Not even close to representing the best of the UWS. Sad.

    41. Mark Moore says:

      According to Eater the top Chinese place in NYC is Atlas Kitchen on west 109th. Anyone been there?

      • EsFalk says:

        A real UWSider can not afford to eat at Atlas Kitchen. Checked out the menu and found out the prices too high, and a mediocre menu.

      • Laura says:

        haven’t been to Atlas, yet, but Szechuan Garden on 105 is really, really good.

    42. Matt says:

      Crave Fishbar should be on this list

      • UWS Dad says:

        It should…but it’s an offshoot and therefore against the arbitrary rules in the article.

    43. Pete Wells says:

      How can you forget La Boite en Bois?!

    44. christine curry says:

      café du soleil & gennaro for sure!!!!! my first choices!!!!

    45. Amy says:

      Any list that includes sushi and omits Sushi Yasaka is making a big mistake!

    46. Karen Korman says:

      When was this list? Where is Elea? La Sirene. I don’t think of Gray’s Papaya or most of these as “best” – sadly, it’s mssing the best….and while very good, Leonti is out of most people’s budgets…

    47. pqdub says:

      if you left the UWS, which of these restaurants (or any UWS restaurants ) would you go make a point of going back to

      • Ken says:

        now that is a great criterion; and here’s my reply: tessa; la sirene; milling room; boulud sud; cafe du soleil; the great tapas place that i will not name b/c it’s overcrowded already (hint: used to be called vin’s tapas); boulevard seafood (ex-henry’s). i would come back for all these places. oh, & mokja for the bibimbap.

        • UWSLove says:

          Haha… I knew what restaurant you were talking about right away. “Vins (no apostrophe) Tapas” just means “Wines Small Plates”. I used to think that was the name, too because of the overhanging sign, but then I saw the little brass plaque next to the door with the restaurant’s real name. Either way, agree it’s a hidden gem!

    48. Nicole Kucine says:

      Han Dynasty is the best Chinese food in the neighborhood, hands down. And Oxbow Tavern? No way!

    49. Doug Garr says:

      I’d rather have a baguette from Maison Kayser than suffer through any place on this sorry list.

    50. Marion says:

      I cannot believe that Shun Lee could be included in this list. While it is one of the few remaining Chinese restaurants that serves traditional Chinese food, it has taken a nose dive in past years. It’s always been a favorite of mine, and am sorely disappointed that it is no longer a go-to place.

    51. UWSer says:

      Enjoying the best salad—butternut squash and goat cheese—at The Smith as I read this. Great service. Should be represented.

    52. UWS Dad says:

      No love for Bustan or Vai? And Shun Lee in 3rd place is a joke. It’s overpriced and not any good (although dim sum in the café are a different matter).

    53. Seriously this is a sad list. Leonti is too new and menu not appealing. Oxbow is GREAT. What about Santa Fe? Very good Mex. Sushi Kaito is beyond excellent, better than most in all of Manhattan. So. Who made up this list? Cafe Luxembourg is like so dated and mediocre. The Milling Room should be higher up on the list.

    54. Nancy says:

      Haru Sushi on Amsterdam & 81st. Excellent, impeccably fresh fish, beautifully presented, with daily happy hour food specials.

    55. colleen mccourtney says:

      Gennaro’s has been resting on it’s well worn laurels
      for years. What was a destination find 20 years ago
      is now over priced and mediocre at best. He still deserve cudos for the delicious kale salad craze he started.

    56. Linda says:

      What about Bodrum/Sushi Yasaka?

    57. EricUWSNYC says:

      Can’t figure out why Absolute Bagels made the list, but a place like Lincoln Ristorante or even ‘Cesca didn’t? Or Gray’s Papaya, but not Atlantic Grill nor Momoya? Not a very well-researched endeavor.

    58. Martha Weissberg says:

      For those of us of a certain age who remember
      sweet meals in France, not fancy but predictably pleasant, La Mirabelle needs to be on this list. You cross the threshold and you feel transported into another time and place. It’s not outrageously expensive, it has what you want, and it feels authentic, the way an UWS restaurant should feel.

    59. Oh yeah.

      What about Osteria Cotta? Great fresh past and pizza. Mermaid Inn, freshest little necks. Arte Cafe is better than most of these.

      • Steve B says:

        Cotta isn’t consistent enough to be a great restaurant. It has its charms, but . . some nights, it’s wonderful. Other nights: the food tastes like it came out of a box and the microwave wasn’t working so well.

    60. Concerned Citizen says:

      We really like the food at Bistro Cassis (Columbus & 69th Street)–should be on the list.

    61. BEN ZINKIN says:

      P J CLARK,

    62. Okie says:

      I love pastrami, dearly. I used to get it at Artie’s, but when they closed the only sit-down deli left on the UWS was Fine and Schapiro’s. And if I were forced to eat pastrami only in our neighborhood, I would never eat it again. F&S is the deli from hell – tired appearance, indifferent service, and the quality of their pastrami is an insult to all the other pastramis in New York. No other word for it – it’s a shonde.

    63. Joanne Morse says:

      And how about Buchetta?

      • UWS Foodie says:

        And what about Mirabelle on 86th, Il Violino on 68th, and I agree, Bistrot Cassis. Ah, and then there’s Sirene on 80th, or 81st. And Boîte en Bois!

    64. Katia says:

      you left out a fairly new winner: Elea @ 217 W 85th , fantastic Greek restaurant , great decor , good service , a welcome addition to the UWS!!!!!

    65. UWSMom says:

      Any list of “best UWS dining” that omits Tessa was not properly researched.

    66. S Spiegel says:

      La Mirabelle…tried and true. A real neighborhood treasure.

    67. Martin says:

      What about Osteria 106, a fantastic Italian place on 106th near Manhattan? And Arco Café on Amsterdam and 103rd, probably the only place on the UWS that offers Sardinian food? And Boulevard Seafood, Henry’s replacement?

      • Laura says:

        Boulevard is not very good. It’s OK, if you order simple dishes, and the space is nice (I’m so glad they kept the generous table spacing from the Henry’s days), but it doesn’t belong on any “best of” list.

    68. UWS Zaddy says:

      This list sucks if Jacobs Pickles AND/OR Maison Pickle isnt on it … Pure rubbish

    69. foodie from UWS says:

      Where is Amelia ?
      A great French bistro onAmsterdam -.

    70. Never mind. Restaurants are over unless you like dining with dogs. The vast wasteland will only expand.

      Today’s NYPost article about slobbering canines at every UWS table now. So. It’s no wonder we prefer to take out or cook at home.

      • Sean says:

        The only comment about the UWS in the article is from a lawyer. As we all know these are the newer residents of the UWS. They live in buildings with Mud Rooms.

    71. Mark Siddall says:

      Murray’s is not a restaurant.
      The Mermaid Inn, Han Dynasty, Crave, Pio Pio, Calle Ocho, Naruto Ramen, The Great Burrito, Flor de Mayo, all are missing but Gray’s Papaya is on the list? Absolute Bagels sure, but not the new H&H on Columbus at 85th?
      It makes me think the list is paid-for.

    72. Dee Greenwood says:

      So many old places. What about Marlowe on100/Amsterdam. A bit pricey but food is great. And newly opened Fumo on Bway/107-8 serves great food. Arco on Amsterdam/103 is a decent neighborhood place. So muchbof this list is lower “upper” west side. Those Lincoln Center places should have a separate category.

    73. Wendy says:

      What a bizarre list. Maybe it’s a joke? Did he have any standards whatsoever in these choices? Murray’s Sturgeon isn’t even a restaurant – it’s a takeout joint. no tables whatsoever.

      Hard to take this thing seriously.

    74. Eal says:

      Is Lincoln Center considered the UWS? I never think of it that way. Also, love Gabriela’s.

    75. Scott says:

      It seems pretty simple to find the best restaurants on the UWS but it would take some shoe leather reporting.

      Simply go around on a Monday night (slowest of the week) to various sit-down restaurants that seat at least 30 people. Do a rough head count and then divide that by the number of available seats. Voila, these are the best restaurants.

      My theory is that people in the area already know where the best food is. Carmine’s is a case in point, it’s always packed. But it’s not a sexy pick.

    76. CPWer says:

      Awadh shouldn’t be on the list. Ashoka is the best indian in UWS , and one of the best in Manhattan

    77. Arlene Spiegel says:

      You forgot MOKUM!! The best fine-casual in Amsterdam

    78. IRENE DRIVAS says:

      Gray’s Papaya?
      they are insulting us!

    79. KT says:

      How could you possibly leave Gennaro off this list??!!

    80. Joe Friedman says:

      It used to be called Cafe des Artistes. Now it’s The Leopard.
      Great food, very civilized, great service, quiet. It’s always a pleasure to be there.

    81. For me, Celeste has 3 strikes against it: 1) Cash Only 2) No reservations (Hovering waiting Diners,etc. 3) Small crowded Tables. I can cook most of the menu at home, why subject myself to this atmosphere?

      • patrick says:

        Ha! I concur! Only thing is that it’s very reasonable so fine for a cheap night out. I don’t go out often but when I do, my go to italian is either Cafe Fiorello or Salumeria Rosi.

    82. patrick says:

      After reading over all these negative comments, I just want to note that the author has listed some of my favorite UWS restaurants/eateries: Cafe Lux, Milling Room, Grays (Admittedly not a restaurant, but those hot dogs are amazing).

      I am always shocked to see people waiting in line for a table at the Fairway Cafe. You couldn’t pay me to spend another minute inside Fairway – I spend enough miserable time there.

    83. Kolozsvary says:

      Thai Market, Saiguette, Taqueria y Fonda, Pisticci — some A+ go tos not on this list.

    84. Leslie says:

      Caffe Storico at the N.Y. Historical Society is the best restaurant on the UWS. Overlooked, I suppose, because it’s attached to a museum. Gray’s Papaya? OMG

    85. Joe says:

      I agree with all the people pointing out that Jacob’s Pickles belongs on this list. I don’t even like pickles, but the rest of their food is so good that I consider it one of the best places in the neighborhood.

      I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned Buceo 95 yet. A delightful tapas restaurant with a good wine selection, definitely one of my go-tos.

    86. Derek says:

      I believe the author of the article simple performed a yelp search and picked 18 restaurants. After living on the UWS for the past 25 years, I’m not sure any of these places would have made my top 10 list.

    87. Susan says:

      Broadway in the 90s is bereft of good but affordable food. Its a main thoroughfare. Those of us who live at the edges of the UWS, like Riverside Drive, or West End anywhere in the 90s have Awadh, yes. But its very expensive (worth it on special occasions but for Tuesday night take out, its more than many of us can manage). Is it that the rents are just too prohibitive??

    88. Daniel Collins says:

      Gennaro’s is mediocre. A dark,cramped, uninviting room. So-so food. I assume the addition of a bagel joint and a hot dog stand bespeaks the desperate condition of UWS restaurants.

    89. Hugh says:

      Everyone should check out Atlas on 109th street and B’way. Opened 4 or 5 months ago.

    90. Too much disrespectful outrage says:

      The disrespectful outrage of so many of these comments is telling of the people who live here. Maybe the culinary scene (or general lack thereof) is a reflection?

    91. MENACHE DANIELE says:

      No Maison Pickle? Lincoln? Gari or Sushi Yasaka? Mmmh.