Calle Ocho & Upper West Side
- Dave Feldman
The Friday NY Times made a fairly good case for the
upper west side not being an execrable restaurant
region anymore. I'm inclined to agree.
Just had another wonderful meal at Calle Ocho last
night, with a memorable spiced salmon above clam
paella with small chunks of chorizo, along with the
wonderful octupus/calamari salad, and the terrific
bread and bean dip. Calle Ocho has become my favorite
upscale restaurant on the upper west side. The bar
area is a madhouse (and often quite smokey) but
despite "the scene," the staff has always been
unfailingly polite at worst and usually warm and
The only restaurant mentioned in Asimov's roundup that
I have not been to is Gabriel's. Any Chowhounds eaten
I ate there a couple of times about 7 years ago.
At that time I remember the food was above average. The
tables are spaced nicely apart and the staff was very
Picholine then became my spot in the Lincoln Center
area. Expense report material though.
Regarding Gabriel's, I've eaten there a few times,
although the last was about 4 or 5 years ago.
The food was very good, and it was reasonably quiet,
despite being full. I remember the fish as
particularly good. If I recall correctly, I had sea
bass in some kind of casserole.
Calle Ocho is one of my favorite restaurants. If you
are planning to go on a Sat night, they get booked up
pretty quickly. It doesn't hurt to call and see if
they will take reservations this far ahead; it is a
little far,but better to make reservations than be
disappointed. I would say it costs about $35 per
person but I could be wrong because I never see the
bill. That would include a drink but no tip. Maybe
other chowhounders can be more specific on that.
Having studied in Spain and traveled there as well I
would not compare it to Spanish food at all. The two
are completely different but I would try it. On a
different note, I would also recommend Churrascaria
Plataforma, a Brazilian barbecue placein the theatre
district which is a lot of fun but also gets booked
up. They have a fantastic salad bar and waiters
carrying skewers of all the meat you can eat.
Entrees at Calle Ocho are in the mid- to high-teens to
low twenties. Appetizers tend to be in the high
single-figures, with some of the shellfish specialties
Although Calle Ocho is about as trendy as the upper
west side gets (i.e., not very), the staff is
extremely friendly and the dress is all over the map.
One friend, unfamiliar with the restaurant, and used
to going to cheaper Latin places with me, came in
shorts and a T-shirt to a Saturday dinner and no one