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UWS reviews and seeking rec's esp for mex

Hi,

Visiting from Australia staying on the UWS. At present we have been eating around the UWS as getting over jetlag, and travelling with a 2 year old.

So far have had some excellant meals.

Kefi- absolutely delicious, meatballs, and fried cod fabulous. Next time I go I think we will just order 5-6 appetizers and bypass the mains. Service, wine was great. Also child friendly, and quick.

Celeste - some of the best ravioli I have tasted. It was loud and squishy, however we got talking to the family at the next table which was nice. The italian wines by the glass were very good.

Planet Sushi - we had the sushi/sashimi for two and thought it was really good. I am curious to taste some of the other sushi places that have been recommended on the boards like haru.

EJ Luncheonette - nice decor food ordinary.

Jimmy's BBQ - fun loud place - cannot really rate the bbq as I have nothing to compare it to. I did like my pulled pork sandwich, however I did not like the candied yams, and I love yams. the collard greens and black eyed peas were nice though. Also it had a frat house atmosphere ( which probably would not appeal to most) however we are tourists and don't have this sort of thing in Sydney. There were some weird green drinks in goldfish bowls that people were drinking I can imagine they were a bit messy after those. I got into the spirit and drank bourbon. It was child friendly which was a bonus.

Boat Basin Cafe - Fantastic location and view. Burger was average. But the beer tasted good with that view.

Couple of questions:
I still have not found a good cappucino/espresso in this area, we are staying w81st, I have had a view starbucks (not a big fan). Also had a Zabars - not fabulous. I am thinking Nice Matin might do an ok one. Is it ok to go there just for coffee? any recs in this area would be great.

Also want to try Mexican - someone has recommended Cilantro are there any other recommendations in this area?

Also Le Cariades the cuban/chinese place what it good to order as I have never eaten cuban before.

H&H Bagels are delicious. I have them for breakfast.

What is the scene with Grom there is a huge line every time I go past or should i just stick with emack & bolio.

Thanks

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  1. Glad you're enjoying your stay. As a local, some comments:

    Coffee - most of it is average. Give Edgars a try - 84th just west of broadway.

    Sushi - Haru is pretty average. My new fave in the hood is Tenzan on 75th/columbus. If you have a splurge meal in your budget you may want to go to Gari on 78th/columbus.

    I'm not a huge fan of La Caridad beyond basic chicken rice and beans and plantains.

    Enjoy the rest of your stay!

    Grom - it got a load of good PR before the opening. If you time it right, I hear it's worth the try. Personally, I'll wait a few months!

    Mexican - again, nothing that'll knock your socks off. For a laugh, you may want to head up to Mama Mexico on 102nd/Broadway - the food is pretty standard, but your 2 year old may enjoy the live mariachi band.

    For a quick lunch, try the Hampton Chutney Co. on Amsterdam/83rd - interesting dosas and udapam with a large window sill play area for the little one.

    For a better burger, you can head down to PJ Clarkes across from lincoln center - it's a new uptown branch of a NY institution

    I'm guessing you get excellent Thai in Australia, but Land on 81st/Amsterdam is pretty good.

    1. Hi emoliash! Welcome to the nabe. Harrison knows the area and knows the food. But I'll add just a few thoughts:

      1. If you like street Mexican, try the taco truck (Sobre Ruedas) on 97th, just west of Broadway. The tacos are dirt cheap ($2 a pop) and very good, especially the carne enchilladas (spiced pork) tacos. The orchata isn't bad, either.

      2. For sort of neuvo Mexican, try Gabriella's. The chicken is pretty tasty. The margaritas can be a bit gringo, but their tequilla list is really very impressive. If you are a fan of strong, unusual flavors, try the Michelada. (I love it; my SO hates it... it evokes strong feelings.)

      3. If you like S. American in general, Flor de Mayo is similar to Le Caridad, with inexpensive, good chicken and a kid-friendly atm.

      4. For casual Cuban/Puerto Rican, try Cafe con Leche. I don't really get excited about anything that isn't on the appetizers and sandwiches menu, but certain dishes like the mofongo are really, really good. (It's also really reeeely unhealthy, so be forewarned.) The empanadas aren't bad for wheat empanadas, tho I prefer mine made with corn flour or a mixture of corn and wheat. The cubano and bistek sandwiches are tasty.

      5. For pretty good coffee and a nice, friendly vibe, do a casual lunch or breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. It's an international chain--but it is popular for a reason.

      5. Ah yes. And there's Cafe Frida for Mexican with a classier vibe. The food is a bit dumbed down for gringos, and it's probably overpriced, but for whatever reason, I do like it. The cocktails are excellent (and overpriced). I don't think dining there with two-year old would be a prob.

      6. Grom... wow. It's so darn good that a small container might actually be worth the five bucks you pay for it. It's a pain in the ars to wait in line that long, but if you're not in a hurry, go. It's about 20x better than Emack and Bolio's in my book.

      7. Since you seem to like Celeste, another neighborhood fave Italian of mine is Spiga. I don't think they do fish so well (just had the cod last night), but the duck and pork secondi are both great. The butternut squash primi is very good, and every dessert I've tried here has been fabulous. Wines by the glass are sort of meh, though.

      8. If you like pizza, my little brother swears by Patsy's. I don't particularly like pizza, so I've never been, but I trust his judgment since he's something of a pizza connaisseur (college senior).

      9. If you like Thai, try Charm Thai. I haven't tried too many things on the menu since it just opened, but I can vouch for all of the duck dishes. They're fabulous. Noodle dishes are not the best I've had in Manhattan, but they are good. (Not spicy unless you ask for it.)

      I personally stay far away from Cilantro. The food is bad, IMO, and it's horrifically loud / sceney. Your 2 year old probably wouldn't like it too much, though if she/he cries, it won't increase the noise level by much.

      Hope you enjoy your stay!

      6 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        To clarify, the taco truck (Sobre Ruedas) is on the S side of 96th Street W of Broadway. Definitely worth a visit. Love the tortas, especially chicken or pork enchilada (make sure to request jalapenos).

        1. re: burton

          Burton, thanks for the clarification. I thought so - I was worried (but also kinda hoped) there was ANOTHER taco truck I hadn't discovered.

        2. re: cimui

          I vouch for all of the above too. For good Mexican you can also try Noche Mexicana on 102/Amsterdam or farther up Taqueria y Fonda La Mexicana on 108th/Amsterdam. Both are a little dive-y but the food is muy authentic. I prefer Taqueria. I agree about Mama Mexico - food is really very average but your 2 year old might have a great time - it's sensory overload there.

          A question though - Is the Sobre Ruedas taco truck on 97th St. different than the Super Tacos taco truck on 96th just west of Broadway?

          1. re: mjps2

            Sorry for any confusion. The taco truck - and it's the only one I am aware of in the immediate vicinity - is "Super Tacos Sobre Ruedas" and is most definitely on 96th St.

            1. re: burton

              Burton's right--sorry kids. I *wish* there were more than one taco truck in the nabe, but sadly, I just got my streets mixed up.

              As an additional navigation aid: the truck stops right in front of Gristedes.

          2. re: cimui

            Wow, cimui, there's pretty much nothing for me to add! And mjps2 covered where I was about to jump in with Taqueria y Fonda.

          3. If you are looking for something sweet and want an alternative to ice cream, try Beard Papa's: They serve fresh filled cream puffs. Decent coffee. My 2 year old loves them. On Broadway at about 77th.

            Calle Ocho has good Latin food. A bit pricey but fun and loud ( i.e good for kids and they have a kid's menu.) Probably need a reservation for peak times. Columbus and 81st.

            Cafe Mozart on 70th/Broadway has good coffee and pastries.

            Barney's Greengrass for classic NYC deli/Jewish food. Expensive but might be worth doing once. Amsterdam and 86th.Check menupages.com to see the menus of any of these places.

            Have you been to Whole Foods in the Time Warner center? They have a great buffet plus bakery. Might be fun if you are tired of eating in restaurants. probably best to go for breakfast or lunch on weekdays. I would avoid weekday evenings or weekends unless you want a zoo.

            1. Barney Greengrass is worth a trip - very NY...I like it for the sturgeon, lox is good too. Really good for a classic bagels/cream cheese/smoked fish type of brunch.

              Speaking of bagels, which is a hotly debated issue on this board, locally I'd recommend Tal Bagels (on 90th and Broadway) over H&H.

              Grom is worth the wait and the price, in my opinion, but your two-year-old may disagree...Emack & Bolio is great ice cream though, if that's any consolation.

              Would definitely recommend the taco truck on 97th?96th? and Broadway, which cimui mentioned. If you like spicy food, be sure to add some of the green chile sauce to your taco. It's definitely not all Mexican cuisine has to offer - my favorite place that's closest to you is on 96th off Park (El Paso Taqueria), but it's a few avenues over on the east side. Mama Mexico, which harrison recommended, is great if you stick to basics; loud party atmosphere.

              Enjoy the rest of your trip, and happy chowing!

              5 Replies
              1. re: theannerska

                For coffee (late morning) I'm sure Nice Matin is fine; they serve a lovely breakfast. Also, Louie's at 81/Amsterdam is a very attractive place to sit for coffee (large windows facing the street).

                For Mexican, despite its mixed reviews on this Board, I especially like Rosa Mexicano, about 20 blocks from you. The space is beautiful (even more so if you sit upstairs by a window) and everything I've had (guacamole, lamb shanks, mole, and veg. dishes) has been delicious.

                For what it's worth, I found the food at Hampton Chutney inedible and threw it away without finishing it. (I do love south Indian food and dosas at other Indian places around the city.)

                For something a bit different, especially if you enjoy vegetables, you might try Ayuvedra Cafe on Amsterdam at around 93d. They have a fixed menu every day of Indian vegetarian dishes for about $10.

                1. re: alc

                  Wow, the fresh tuna dosa with avocado and cilantro chutney from Hampton Chutney Company was my favorite "splurge" (ie spending more than $10) lunch in that area when I worked around there. And I've been buying their cilantro chutney as a condiment for the last 7 or 8 years. I love the food there. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience.

                  I agree that the space at Rosa Mexicano is beautiful but the food is not exciting at all. I'd take Gabriella's over Rosa Mexicano any time.

                  And I agree with everyone's assessment of Mama Mexico, it's a huge party every night with live mariachis. The food is fine, not great, but the margaritas are very and so is the atmosphere usually. I bet your two year old would love it.

                  1. re: ballulah

                    Thanks for the great recs. I have seen some of them in the area.

                    Last night we wanted pizza so went to Bettola we were tossing up whether to go to Patsy's the 70's branch. But we like the thin crust. the pizza's were good.

                    My only gripe is that they presented us with the wine list bottles only. We then asked about wines by the glass. The waitress just said we have chardonnay, chianti, pinot grigio, cabernet - listing about eight. Not mentioning the wineries they were from. We ordered a chianti and a pinot grigio. The bill comes and they are $9.00 and $9.50 each. Now I don't mind paying that much for a glass of wine, however I would like a list to pick from and being able to examine the wineries they are from etc. All the other places we have been have had them on the menu also describing what the wines are like. Then you can decide which one you want also assessing the price. To be honest with a quick pizza we would have probably only wanted to pay $6.00 or $7.00.

                    Am I being unreasonable to have been a bit peeved? In fact I would not go back there because of this.

                    Re: Mexican - in Australia it is so ordinary that I think we will think an average place is great. Ok I will confess to having taco at the Natural history museum and we thought it was better then anyone we have had in Australia!

                    Thank you again

                    1. re: emoliash

                      For really great Mexican it's worth crossing Central Park to El Paso on 97th between Park and Madison. So good! I love their tamales, tacos and you've got to try their tortilla soup. Kid friendly and they serve beer and sangria

                      1. re: emoliash

                        Sorry about your experience at Bettola. It's actually one of the better spots in the area for the pizza among other things (especially the bianca with truffle oil). As for the wine, without defending the lack of a price list, it's always best to ask to avoid unpleasant surprises. After all this is the UWS...

                2. Cafe - Cafe La Fortuna. It's one of my favorites. I believe it's 71st between Col & CPW. Great coffee, pastries and lunch/dinner menu. Always have opera playing and a lovely backyard garden. It's one of the few authentic cafes remaining in the city. If you're on the UWS you must check it out.