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upper west side eating-75th and Amsterdam

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Just got a new job on UWS, at 75th and Amsterdam and seem to have already exhausted much chowhounding possibilities. Had pizza and wonderful empanadas at Johnny Peppers, good eats at Bernies and have hit the Fairway Cafe a few times. Ate at the cheap Chino Latino and paid way to much for a bowl of Avoglomeno (sp?) at Nikos. Ate at Zen Palate a bit. But I really, really need some more suggestions- one thing I haven't found yet is Chinese, nor a good place for Salads. Am starting to feel disillusioned with my own chowhounding, for surely there are untapped treasures, even if the UWS is known as something of a culinary wasteland.

Help anyone? Bear in mind I work for a non-profit and need options that are as easy on the wallet as they are exciting for the palate.


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  1. I really really love Gray's Papaya, and it doesn't get much easier on the wallet than that. It's on 72nd and B'way. Don't laugh!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Allie

      They may be a out of your way, but you could try:

      CAFE CON LECHE (424 Amsterdam Ave. at 80th St.):
      Really good Cuban/Dominican food, esp. the mofongo. Did you try this place already or were you writing about La Caridad?

      POPOVER CAFE (551 Amsterdam Ave. btw 86th & 87th Sts.):
      They've got decent sandwiches, good salads, great breakfasts (ie...lemon-seed poppy pancakes), and those AWESOME popovers!!

      EJ's LUNCHEONETTE (447 Amsterdam Ave. btw 81st & 82nd Sts.):
      Nothing spectacular (though the gruyere cheeseburger and crunchy french toast are worth mentioning), but a good lunch staple place. Good sandwiches and salads.

      SAIGON GRILL (2381 Broadway at 87th St.):
      Upper West Sides' favorite (only?) Vietnamese...probably one of the best places in Manhattan that's outside of Chinatown.

      BIG NICK'S BURGER JOINT (2173 Broadway btw 76th & 77th Sts.):
      Good for when you NEED a greasy burger and, come on, sometimes we do.

      I second the nomination for GRAY'S PAPAYA too!

      All these places deliver....

      Good luck & have fun!

      1. re: chinese5spice

        Also want to add the small & fast tortilla place on 72nd, between Broadway and Columbus, south side of street next to the diet ice cream place. Couldn't find it in the phone book under Fresco Tortillas or Fresh Tortillas--anyone know what it's called? Hope it's still there.

        You can get a bean tortilla with cheese for about a buck--we like everything there except for the stewed chicken (regular chicken's fine).

        1. re: Loeb

          Taco Grill. my 13 y.o. loves this place, it's OK, straightforward/non-spicy.

        2. re: chinese5spice

          I second Cafe con Leche for the Cubanos, well-priced lunch specials, and basics like tostones. I also love their mofongo when they're fresh made... but I've been having a streak of bad luck with those as of late. Sometimes the pork cracklings have been around for too long and get pretty rubbery.

          In general, I am not at all a fan of Saigon Grill for a whole host of reasons, but they actually have decent appetizers, including the summer rolls and green papaya salads. I have never had an entree there I like. Many have nasty, overly sweet, gloppy sauces.

      2. the best chinese on the UWS hands down is Silk Road Palace (Amsterdam between 81 and 82)
        The catch is that it is not as good if you order out...you have to eat there to get the best experience.
        I also heartily second Saigon grill on 87 and B'way. Esp. the seafood hot and sour soup.

        Also, one of my favorites is the Spainish Chinese La Caridad, 77th-78th and B'way. Great garlic fried steak and very rich egg drop soup.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sushisasha

          I personally do not see the appeal of Silk Road - goopy, gloppy food - perhaps it's the free wine which distorts people's tastebuds?
          I'm also not the biggest fan of La Caridad (no taste). Flor de Mayo makes better Spanish/Chinese in my opinion (Amst./84th).
          I like certain dishes at Gabriela's (never been to the one across from your office though) - particularly the roast chicken and the pozole.

          I really like Alibaba on Am./85 - try the turkey shwarma on laffah bread!!!

        2. For old-fashioned, greasy but delicious diner food, try Utopia Diner on Amsterdam at 73rd Street. Love the Grilled Cheese and fries.

          1. The Vietnamese/Thai place, River (Amsterdam between 76 and 77) has some decent lunch specials.

            I like Planet Sushi (Amsterdam and 78)for real decent sushi.

            Try Artie's, on Broadway in the low 80s: Go with a friend and DON'T get the waitress service (just order at the counter). Order one pastrami on rye and ask for extra bread--it's cheap, good and not too unhealthy that way!

            Get a bagel-and-lox at Zabars.

            For Chinese, you might want to give Ivy's, on 72nd just East of Bway. I haven't tried it, but have heard OK things.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Deri

              The bagel and lox at Zabar's is a great suggestion. The cafe has some other interesting options like potato knish, as well as the standard soups and paninis (a bit better than average), salads (humdrum and overpriced IMO) and pre-packaged maki (typically gummy-riced). Or pick up a hunk of cheese, some olives and baguette from the store. They have a lot of well-priced mid-week specials on cheese.

            2. Try the "Great Burrito" on 79th and Amsterdam. It's small, with no liquor service, but the food is fresh and inexpensive. Everything is good - try the mild and medium salsas (and this is coming from someone who orders everything extra spicy!) and the guacamole. The only thing I wouldn't recommend there is the spinach quesadilla - the spinach was overcooked. All in all, this place beats Gabriella's by a long shot.

              1. Celeste- on 84th and Amsterdam- you feel like you're in a restaurant in Italy

                1. i moved to this general neighborhood (after a year overseas, but originally from downtown) and posted a similar question a few months ago...


                  I have to say, that after 5+ months, i'm still not thrilled with the food options and more often than not, i find myself hopping the subway downtown or staying in and cooking...

                  That said, Cafe Ronda (Columbus near 71st) is sort of my default place...they serve reasonably priced quasi-Argentine tapas and glasses of wine...it's woodsy and mellow and works for many types of occassions...i usually get some combo of: lamb meatballs, shepherd salad (w/ avocado added), sauteed spinach w/ pinenuts&raisins, and glasses of Malbec or Rioja...despite a couple glitches on my first visit, the ingredient and preparation quality has been very consistent and tasty...

                  While i like Bar Bao for loungey drinks and i still have to try Kefi, most other places in the hood have seemed like a waste of time (and money)...

                  The UWS Chinese food problem has been discussed here on other threads, and for me, it's become almost infuriating...i haven't discovered even one decent regional Chinese place in over a mile radius!...(i'd settle for *any* region: Shanghai, Guangdong, Sichuan, anything)...

                  I also have to disagree vehemently about Saigon Grill...at best it's a semi-decent cheap place to get a pork chop; at worst, gloppy Americanized stuff...

                  1. I think La Vela which is, I'm pretty sure, on Amsterdam and 77th, is good. And it's reasonable.

                    1. Let's see... Are you looking for lunch or dinner options? (I'm going to assume lunch, but correct me if I'm wrong.)

                      Cheapie lunch places that are fairly good:

                      * Shake Shack (go for the plain ol' burger; if you don't build it up in your head too much after hearing reports and don't expect the best burger ever made, you'll like it)

                      * Hampton Chutney Co. (fusion dosas; south indian crepe with fillings like arugula, goat cheese and sundried tomato; probably expensive for what it is and not good for everyday on a non-profit salary)

                      * Harriet's Kitchen (surprisingly good burgers, chicken, other comfort food)

                      * Flor de Mayo (pretty good rotisserie chicken and interesting Peruvian Chinese specialties)

                      * China Fun is less horrible than most Chinese food in the area. Some of the dim sum offerings are fair, i.e. the turnip (daikon radish) cake, egg custard tarts, curry puffs; the steamed little juicy buns and dumplings are no worse than others in the area... and they have lots of Chinese American dishes on offer like chicken and broccoli

                      Re: salads... hmm... for stuff like that, why not bring your lunch?

                      Flor de Mayo
                      484 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      Hampton Chutney Co.
                      464 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      China Fun
                      246 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023

                      Harriet's Kitchen
                      502 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      Shake Shack
                      366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: cimui

                        Cimui - you always give great recs. But don't worry too much about the OP getting back to anyone. Someone revived this thread from 2002!

                        1. re: LNG212

                          *smacks self on forehead*

                          augh -- that gets me every time!! thanks for the heads up. =)

                        2. re: cimui

                          Definitely Ivy's Cafe on W.72nd and bdwy for chinese. Nothing fancy but solid enough and better than the others in the area.

                        3. I'll second Nick's for good, cheap, greasy burgers (and I mean that in the most complimentary way) and I recently enjoyed a pretty decent slice at La Traviata on 68th, between Columbus and Broadway. Might not be the best slice in the city, but they had a lot of business and were doing quite a few deliveries while I sat there.