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ISO UES Charming Hole-in-the-wall

Anyone know of a great neighborhood find? Looking for a rustic, bistro, tapas place, inoteca, etc.,place to make my new go-to-place... where a quick dinner or lingering over great wine, cheese and food while catching up w/ good friends could be had.

Italian, French, Belgian, Spanish....

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  1. Zebu-92nd just off 2nd ave. Brazilian-very nice people and food. Rustic as wel

    1 Reply
    1. re: UES Mayor

      Agreed, though definitely not a hole in the wall. Try the empanadas.

    2. I like Brasserie Julien, though it's not exactly a hole in the wall. On 3rd ave in...high 80s? 70's?

      1. OhMammaMia 2nd ave bet 76+77, Vero- 2nd Ave bet 77+78 Caffe Buon Gusto- 77 bet 2+3

        3 Replies
        1. re: dani108

          I had a terrible experience at Caffe Buon Gusto. Which just reminded me of the little italian places I love - Gino's and Traingolo on 83rd and 1st.

          1. re: Jel212

            Really? I love Caffee Buon Gusto. What was your experience?

            1. re: jackieparis

              Its so cute - I wish it was better. Here's my experience:

              "So Disppointed"
              I had walked by this place numerous times, and was looking forward to trying it out as a casual and cozy place for "the parents to meet" for the first time. I'm pretty easy - I like good, basic food with no frills, as well as am wowed by the slightly fancier stuff. Walked in with two other people, no one noticed us for about 5 minutes. We were shown to a table, then told we could sit in the garden if we wanted. We followed the host to the garden - through many tight areas where garbage and dirty plates were clearly visible. When we got back there, it was incredibly crowded, and there was only 1 too-small front table for us. So we went back to the front. The banquets that had looked so cozy were TOO HIGH FOR THE TABLES! When I sat down (and I am short) I was hovering high above the table, with my thighs touching the bottom (and I am small in stature). My boyfriend and sister had to sit on the regular chairs to be at all comfortable. The hostess, who I guess also doubled as a waitress, left us sitting there for a very long time, thirsty and hungry. When she finally came over, we had to request bread and water. The bread was doughy and bland and dry. I had to ask twice about something on the menu, and she didn't know what came with the dish. I also had to ask twice for more olive oil, while we waited for someone to take our order. I was hopeful that it would be worth it, since the food looked good. The food was less-than mediocre, with marinara sauce that was more just chopped-up tomatoes that were too sour, and pasta that was gummy and stuck together. We didn't order anything else. Overall, an unpleasant experience, and not worth the food.

        2. Sel et Poivre is on Lex, b/t 64th & 65th St. I wouldn't describe it as a hole-in-the-wall, but it is small and quite charming, and the French bistro cuisine is very tasty.


          1. I love the bar at Etats-Unis. It's the little wine bar across the street from the restaurant. It has its own menu (or they will let you order off the restaurant menu.) I was my favorite place on the UES when I lived there. The ambience and food are great.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chow3

              zocalo - 82nd st between 3rd and lex. great little mexican dishes and great drinks.

            2. Uva is fab! 77th and 2nd.

              1. Definitely echo the Uva and Zocalo recs- check out Bandol- 78th just across 3rd- great neighborhood French bistro with excellent service and fabulouse food- love the salads and risotto! Visit for the first time and the fabuolous staff will make you feel like a regular.

                1. You will be impressed with this little known gem that specializes in healthy fresh food.


                  1. On Madison between 92nd and 93rd there are 2 small, cute places. Not quite "hole in the wall" but tiny and intimate with relaxed service. They are on the pricey side unless you go before 7 for the Prix Fixe.
                    Bistro du Nord - nothing on menupages but NY mag has a review...


                    8 Replies
                    1. re: SweetPea914

                      To me - definitely not hole in the wall. I find Bistro du Nord hit or miss - sometimes pretty good, sometimes terrible. I do like Pascalou - I tend not to "trust" places that seem to incorporate various cuisines into their menu, but dishes there are v. well executed. Wonderful tuna main course with little dumplings.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Agreed on Bistro Du Nord. I lived right around the corner until last summer so these were our go-to places when we didn't feel like cooking or travelling far. I prefer Bistro Du Nord for Brunch and Pascalou was more our dinner place.

                        1. re: SweetPea914

                          Makes sense. We must have been neighbors!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I know, I just saw your posting on sushi restaurants in the high 80's/low 90's and was thinking we must have been neighbors!

                      2. re: SweetPea914

                        The teensy "boite," Table d'Hote, on 92nd, b/t Madison & Park, fits the category of "hole-in-the-wall." We haven't been there is ages, but our daughter and the b.f. went there recently and said the French bistro cuisine is still excellent.


                        1. re: RGR

                          Oh good - we like it too. But I guess I equate "hole-in-the-wall" with "dive" - I guess that's a topic for another board!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            It did occur to me that the terms are usually equated that way. So, if being divey is a major aspect of a hole-in-the-wall, then, of course, Table d'Hote isn't.

                            1. re: RGR

                              Nor, do I think, are most the of the rest of our recommendations on this thread! But, as far as I know, not a lot of "holes in the wall" in the neighborhood. Another place that I love is Kurios - great drinks, interesting and well executed menu, including lots of wonderful fried appetizers - tempura green beans and a number of others - across from Zebu Grill on E. 92nd St.