HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Upper West side restaurants for first time visit to area

This trip, we will be staying on Upper West Side for first time. Any breakfast, lunch or dinner suggestions for adventurous eaters? Sightseeing in area?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Breakfast - Nice Matin 79th/Amsterdam. Be sure to try the 'bowl of cafe au lait', berries and granola with yogurt, any egg dish, or the to die for orange buttermilk french toast. There's a Sarabeth's near by. Manhattan Diner (74th/B'way) is a nice conventional diner. Pasteries and coffee at Silver Moon (105/B'way), Georgie's (89th/B'way), Pain Quotidion (85th?/Amsterdam), or Zabar cafe (81st/B'way).

    Lunch - Slice of pizza from Sal & Carmine's 101/102 and B'way. Pastrami on rye at Artie's 85th/B'way, be sure to eat lots of their wonderful cole slaw with pickles.

    Dinner - Italian at Genaro (93rd/Amsterdam), Lisca (across street), or Acqua 95th/Amsterdam). At Acqua be sre to try their amazing individual thin crust pizzas, or the wonderful pastas. The value is among the best in the city at $10-14/dish. Peruvian at Pio Pio (94th/Amsterdam) - the ceviche is amazing, and the rotisserie chicken with the green cilantro/lime sauce is fantastic, the sangria is excellent too. Fairway's restaurant (75th/B'way) can be a nice experience. Boat Basin Cafe (79th/river) is sublime simplicity during the Spring/Summer months. Indian at Mughlai (?/Amsterdam), or Earthen Oven (72nd/Columbus).

    Dessert and drinks with your SO at Shalel (70th/Columbus). The chocolate covered dates, and martinis are wonderful, but the romantic atmosphere is to die for at this subterranian candlelit bar with a Moroccan theme.

    That's all I can muster for now!

    1 Reply
    1. re: powermd

      My take on Acqua, for what it's worth, and thanks for your comments, hounds, which helped us decide to give the place a chance:

      I've been to this establishment at on 95th St. and Amsterdam twice so far. It's not worth a trip from another part of town, but if you're in the neighborhood, it provides quite acceptable to very good food. For example, the Rigatoni Delizia con Funghi (wild mushroom and meat sauce) is tasty and has some of the flavor profile of good Greek pastitsio, and the Gnocchi ai Funghi Selvatici have a nice texture and a very appetizing mushroom flavor. We also found a contorno of Sautéed Spinach with Toasted Almonds and Golden Raisins (also sliced garlic, which is not mentioned in the menu but very welcome) quite good and superior to most Manhattan Italian restaurants at similar price points. They also have a wood-fired brick oven. When they don't leave the pizza in long enough, it's merely good (for New York, pedestrian if it were in Naples), and when they do, it's very good, such as the Quattro Formaggi pizza I got on my second visit. For desserts, the Mascarpone Cheesecake is good but the Panna Cotta, which is their most popular item, had run out both times we were there, so if you want it, you could try calling in to reserve a portion. Service is inconsistent. The first time we went there, we had a completely incompetent waiter, who couldn't remember what we ordered or who ordered what, didn't bring things, etc. The next time, we had the delightful waitress who had also stepped in to partly rescue things for us the first time, and the owner was gracious when we were disappointed at the fact that the panna cotta had sold out once more. But the bottom line is, this is a good value for your money and seems to provide dependably good-to-very-good food.

      718 Amsterdam Avenue, at 95th Street

      Acqua's website:


    2. Thanks! A very good selection for 5 days of eating.

      1. Jean Georges in Trump Tower: http://www.trumpintl.com/dining.asp

        Unfortunately, Monsoon (Vietnamese) closed.

        Cafe, Mozart Cafe: http://www.cafemozart.com/

        1. In the upscale category:

          Compass, on 70th, b/t Amsterdam & West End Avs. - http://www.compassrestaurant.com

          Telepan, on 69th, b/t Columbus & CPW - http://www.telepan-ny.com

          Picholine, on 64th, b/t B'way & CPW - http://www.picholinenyc.com

          5 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            i live in the nabe and agree with all of the recommendations here but i feel compelled to steer folks away from acqua. i've gone in there three times. the food is just ok but, more importantly, the manager is very rude in my opinion. we had a very bad experience just getting seated for absolutely no reason; the place was half empty as it usually is. apparently, they won't seat 2 people at a four-person table even when it's half empty and near closing, when there's no chance that all of those tables will be taken. but, if they know you, they'll immediately seat you (sans a reservation) at any table and ahead of anyone else who may have been waiting a long time. i'll spare you a long story. i question any positive reviews on this place from this experience and other observations i've made while dining here and passing by. many of the reviews on menupages also jive with our observation if you can get beyond the positive reviews that seem similar to each other and posted after every negative review...hmmmm...

            since i never tried the pizza there, it can very well be perfectly fine but the pasta dishes, salads and other appetizers are nothing special at all. if you want good pizza in a restaurant setting, i recommend patsy's. again, there are some problems with the service here at times and as well, but nothing like what we experienced in acqua.

            1. re: nativeNYer

              Well, being that a very knowledgeable poster has clearly covered many fine choices in the upper 70's to '90's category, I'll hone in on my territory (the '60's to 70's).
              Yes to the upscale Telepan, Picholine and Compass.
              Italian: La Fortuna at 72nd or 73rd & Columbus. ( A cute little place with dining out back in an enclosed garden) Great for lunches too.
              Another Italian: Il Violino (70th & Columbus)
              Neighborhood Italian where one can sit outside and watch the world go by:
              La Fenice (68th & Broadway)
              Fiorello's (a popular hangout with the Lincoln Center crowd)
              Josephina's (also across from the MET)
              Mexican: Rosa Mexicano (also across from the MET)
              Mediterranean: Gabriela's (59th & Broadway)
              Upscale Asian: Shun Lee (off 65th & Broadway)
              Seinfeld-like Diner: 69th & Broadway
              Turkish: Zeytin (85th & Columbus)
              Brunch,Lunch, Snacks: Le Pain Quotidien (across from Shun Lee)

              Bon appetit!

              1. re: idia

                oooh, second Rosa Mexicano -- the pomegranate margaritas are to die for and the tableside guacamole is great.

                question -- for mediterranean, did you mean "gabriel's"? (Gabriella's is the Mexican further uptown.) if so, gabriel's is on 60th, i think, between broadway and columbus.

              2. re: nativeNYer

                I have only eaten in the restaurant at Acqua once or twice. The service was okay, nothing special. I do catch something of a negative vibe from the staff. I've gotten take out, probably close to 20 times. The rigatoni with mushroom-meat sauce is delicious. Somtimes I find myself craving that single dish. The sardinian pasta with sausage is also excellent. The balsamic vinegarette dressing that comes with the insalata mista is great. The pizza is the best in the immediate area, but doesn't travel well. It is so thin you need to eat it almost immediately, or the cheese gets that 'cold pizza' look. It's still very good. Delivery is slow, so I always pick up my food when I order from Acqua.

                One more addition for the OP - Mama Mexico on 102/B'way is always a treat. Stick with the fajitas and sangria, and enjoy the mariachis.

                1. re: powermd

                  We had a great time at MM on Labor Day, got blitzed on the frozen margaritas too!

            2. I too like many of the recs already made by the above posters. I'll just add a few ideas. First, if it's a nice day, head to Fairway/Citarella/Zabars (any or all), grab a few things and have yourself a picnic in Central Park -- lovely for breakfast, lunch, whatever.

              Other ideas -- for a different type of Italian, try La Grolla (80/Amsterdam) where they have rabbit, venison, etc. For handmade pasta (and if you can stand a crowd and a wait) go to Celeste (84?/Amsterdam). For drinks outside and some snacks (we aren't keen on their entrees but apps are fantastic, esp. tomato & avocado quesedillas, as are the drinks), go to Gabriella's (94/Columbus). If you can't get up to Silver Moon (best croissants, imo), then go to Fairway Cafe (upstairs) or Zabars Cafe. For a nice brunch (usually live jazz) try Roth's Westside Steakhouse (94/Columbus) which is also good for dinner. For tapas, we love love Sol y Sombra (83?/Amsterdam) which also has terrific sangria.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LNG212

                Thanks m'friend for correcting my spelling.
                There is a big difference between the Mediterranean Gabriel's on 60th near Broadway & 9th and the Mexican Gabriela (which I am not familiar with)

              2. Another vote for Sarabeth's (for brunch only though). Go to Zabar's on B'way for a fun combo of sightseeing and food. Of course, the Nat Hist Museum is on the UWS too. Koronet Pizzeria is the place in NYC that's infamous for it's gigantic slices- as in, bigger than your head and as long as your arm, and tasty too. It's a fun place to pop in- no atmosphere, it's just a counter joint, but then you can take a walk around the beautiful gated Columbia University campus, which is very nice and has lots of historic architecture. 2848 Broadway, 110th street 1 train stop.

                1. No love for Barney Greengrass? Shame on you all.

                  The best breakfast in the world is soft scrambled eggs nova and onions with two plain, untoasted bagles. Break off a piece of bagle, put on some eggs and be transported to heaven.

                  1. Popover cafe for breakfast??? mmmm

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: PatBastrop

                      oooh, popovers with their splendid strawberry butter. "mmmm" is absolutely right. they do a heckuva oatmeal too.

                    2. Good food and moderately priced restaurants in my neighborhood--upper 80s and 90s:

                      Pio Pio (used to be Sipan) 702 Amsterdam 94 Street 212-665-9929-Peruvian-very good food, nice atmosphere, quite during the week, a little noisier on weekends.

                      Gennaro 665 Amsterdam 92/93 Streets - very good food-Italian-very hectic does not take reservations or credit cards-get there early for seating.

                      Docks 2427 Broadway 89/90 Streets 212-986-8080 OK fish, excellent oysters, lively but not hectic.

                      Gabriela's 688 Columbus 93/94 Street 212-961-9600 good traditional Mexican, good value

                      Saigon Grill 620 Amsterdam 90 Street good Vietnamese a bit hectic and noisy

                      Pampa 768 Amsterdam 97/98 Streets 212-865-2929 good grilled Argentinean steak. Crowded. No credit cards.

                      Alouette 2588 Broadway 97/98 Streets 212-222-6808 decent neighborhood French. Small. Make reservations.

                      Roth’s Westside Steak 680 Columbus 93 Street 212-280-4103 good steak, expensive.

                      Yuki Sushi 656 Amsterdam 92 Street 212-787-8200 Excellent quality of fish in sushi and sashimi. Moderate price for quality Japanese. Sushi lunch with salad or soup is less than $11.

                      Miyako 642 Amsterdam 91 Street 212-724-3448 About as good as Yuki Sushi and everything is $1-$1.50 less

                      Acqua 718 Amsterdam 94/95 Streets 212-222-2752 reasonably priced good Italian (Sicilian and Sardinian) in nice setting.

                      Pizzabolla 654 Amsterdam 92 Street 212-579-4500 Old style “checkered tablecloth” Italian with very reasonably priced good food. Good antipasti, entrees, brick-oven pizza and good selection of reasonable priced wine by the bottle and glass.

                      Asia Kan 710 Amsterdam Avenue 94/95 Streets 212-280-8878 Nice mix of Japanese (fresh sushi) and other interesting Asian including Thai and Vietnamese.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ken J.

                        just, fyi, i think pampa closed.

                        1. re: LNG212

                          Have not been to Pampa for a while. Sorry that it is closed.

                      2. I'll throw in:

                        For breakfast - Niko's, the sister restaurant to Big Nick's, for a super affordable yet tasty brunchy meal.
                        For lunch: Cafe Con Leche, on Amsterdam in the mid-90s.
                        For dinner - Swagat, a small but worthy Indian spot on Amsterdam in the low-80s.

                        And I second Saigon Grill.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: piccola

                          Good Enough to Eat

                        2. Nice Matin; Ocean Grill; Ouest; Zabar's; Fred's; Ta Cocina
                          I used to live there...I miss it!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cor

                            if you need some comfort food, definitely go to fred's. they do a pretty terrific mac n cheese.

                          2. Random additions:

                            Neptune Room for seafood, really good bait bar (raw) and terrific brunch. Amsterdam near 85th.

                            Celeste: already mentioned, but do try the cheese platter. Another Italian I hear good things about: Spiga on 84th west of Amsterdam.

                            El Malecon: dominican, good roast chicken. Amsterdam near 97th.

                            I second Barney Greengrass for brunch. For the same items, but takeout only, I would add Murray's Sturgeon at Broadway near 89th.

                            French Roast: good basic 24-hour bistro staples. Broadway at 85th.

                            Lots on Broadway above 96th: Indus Valley (Indian), Bway & 100; Picnic, Bway near 102; Carne (steak), Bway at 105th.

                            Bon Appetit. I think the neighborhood is underrated.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rteplow

                              I've never been to Picnic (full name, PicNic Market & Cafe), so I checked their menu. It's pretty pricey. How much of the price do you suppose is due to the high rent in the area, and aside from the fact of the neighborhood being upscale, do you find that the place is a good value for the price?