Upper West Side Must Hit List
Frequent New York visitor (Seattle chowhound) staying in the Upper West Side for the first time (usually in the West Village) and looking for suggestions for must visit locations. Not picky on type of food and will be in an apartment with the ability to cook. Best cheese shops, hot dog, suckling pig, international...it doesn't matter, just trying to canvass the area and not stray too far.
I like Vintage too. It's not just Long Island wines -- they are exclusively NY State wines and offer many, many Finger Lakes region wines. I especially like the Glenora sparkling wines (from the finger lakes). BUT, while I love the wine bar at Vintage, there are certainly other wine bars that have a) better food, and b) better decor and atmosphere. If you are up in the 90s, definitely go there; if you are lower down, try a few of the other places (Arte, Bin 71, etc.).
If you want authentic mexican, try hole-in-the-wall place called Taqueria y Fonda for delicious chiles rellenos 968 amsterdam avenue up near columbia at 107th st.
I would imagine that you would enjoy checking out Fairway, Zabars and Citarella for groceries - all are along Broadway in the low to mid 80s, I believe. Fairway and Zabars are each known in their own ways for their cheese selections, though I'm not a big fan (but maybe would be more so of one if I lived on the UWS). Recently had a great meal at Ouest - v. well prepared "updated" French food - on the pricey side though.
Zabars also has an extensive cookware department upstairs.
I'd make my way to Barney Greengrass for bagels and lox one morning if I were you - around 87th and Broadway or Amsterdam - I always forget.
This thread isn't limited to the UWS, but may give you more of a sense of some of the stores, if you're not familiar with them from your previous visits: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/442499
Run, do not walk to the best bagel place in the world, H & H Bagels at 80th & Bdwy.
If its good enough for Seinfeld, it's good enough for you! ;-)
Telepan - around 71st & Columbus
Compass - 69th off Amsterdam
La Fortuna (lunches) - sandwiches, soups, salads, pies - 71st & Columbus
Il Violino (Italian) 69th & Columbus
Across from Lincoln Center:
Shun Lee W (Asian)
Le Pain Quotidien (Organic soups, salads, pastries)
La Fenice (neighborhood Italian) - Bet. 68th & 69th & Broadway
Zeytin (Turkish) 85th & Columbus
YES YES - totally 2nd H&H bagels (80th & Bway). Get some cheese and other items from Fairway (74th/Bway) and Zabar's (80th/Bway). Have a picnic in the park!
Also second Telephan, Compass and Ouest. I too like Josephina, though I haven't been in a while. I'm not a fan of Fiorello's -- like their antipasto(antipasti?) but their regular food is just okay (and thus to me seems overpriced).
Second Zeytin -- excellent. Had a lovely brunch there recently.
I would also add:
--Sol y Sombra for tapas and terrific sangria (Amsterdam/82)
--La Grolla for a different take on Italian food (a lot of game) and great gnocchi (Amsterdam/80)
--Celeste or Gennaro for handmade pastas at reasonable prices (but both are crazy crowded) (Amsterdam/85; Amsterdam/92)
--Gabriela's for Mexican (a little higher end; can't vouch for "authenticity") and excellent margaritas (I like regular on the rocks and DH is adicted to the Mango-rita). Love their appetizers (especially avocado & tomato quesadillas) (Columbus/93)
--George Keeley's for good beer selection and a place to hang out (Amsterdam/83-ish)
--Awash for Ethiopian (the sampler plates are *huge* too) and they have Ethiopian beer (Amsterdam/107)
--Malecon for the chicken (though I've not had it, all my friends like it) (Amsterdam/97)
How far up on the UWS are you staying? If you are staying further up, I could mention more places in the 100s and such.
Enjoy your stay.
If you are on 103rd, definitely go to Silver Moon bakery. They have the best croissants (Bway/105). There's also the Hungarian Pastry shop across the avenue from St. John the Divine (Amsterdam/111); I like their hammentaschen. We had a lovely Italian dinner recently at Pisticci (LaSalle/just west of Bway).
I dont know if I would get bagels and lox at Barney Greengrass.. You can pretty much get bagels and lox anywhere.. To go to Barney's would be to get something they make themselves.. Their pickled lox or their herring in cream sauce.
One of my favorites is the Salmon Head and Wings served with onions cooked in fat..
The sturgeon was terrific there this Sunday though, two prior visits were not the greatest..
They also have this ridiculous sandwich there that has chopped liver, chicken fat, pastrami, tongue and roast beef..
They make their own chopped liver, the have a great selection of egg dishes..
All of these things are worth going to Barney's for.. Bagels and lox can be had anywhere..
I like Cafe Mozart (70th b/w Broadway and Columbus) for Sunday brunch.
Barcibo Enoteca has great wine and great food (the veal crostina [sp??] and the mushroom risotto) but it get really crowded at night. I prefer going at around 4pm, sitting at the bar and letting the bartender be my vino sherpa.
All State Cafe (72nd b/w Broadway and WEA) for good pub food and old school bar feel. Tuesday/Thursday nites Tess is tending, she's quite charming and generous with the pour.
I like the Hummus Place (Amsterdam b/w 74 & 75th?).
Sal's and Carmine's pizza on 102nd and Bway is still my favorite spot around, though quality can very a bit. The sort of neighborhood institution that's a dying breed now on the UWS.. my mom was a regular there 40+ years ago, in their old location by the Symphony Space.
I used to boost El Malecon but now I favor the roasted half-chicken from Pio Pio on 94th and Amsterdam..
Indus Valley on 100th and bway is solid, my favorite Indian in the vicinity..
Charm Thai on 95th and Amsterdam is a nice new addition.. also Asia Kan a block below..
My favorite coffee is actually the Korean grocery on 92nd and B'way, but partly because I like saying hi to their cat.
Never hurts to pass by Grom on 76th and bway while it's still warm enough for some gelato. (okay "pass by" may not be accurate depending on the line outside)
The "Super Taco" cart is very good, sweet deal for the price (although I do feel it's a bit overhyped compared to the many other taco trucks in NYC that just don't have such a prime location..) Quick anecdote about the truck: over the summer Tina Fey was filming her new movie on my block, and they recruited Super Taco to park in front of my building and be the craft services truck for cast and crew that night.. thought that was a pretty slick move :)
Adding to the many good recommendations already mentioned:
Le Pain Quotidien--Belgian bakery/bistro
Viand--dinner for basic breakfast/lunch
Grays Papaya--hot dogs
Nice Matin--better quality bistro
I would vote for Nussbaum and Wu for black and white cookies, Gray's for hot dogs, Neptune Room for brunch and Gennaro for awesome Italian (bring cash).
i'd second that!
and Shun Lee.
and just go to Zabars/the cafe next door for your quick & delicious prepared bagel & lox made for you! or buy some fresh sliced nova & their cream cheese in there & get and H&H bagel & make it yourself.
EJs, Good Enough to Eat, & Popover Cafe are fun for brunch, but all get crowded so be prepared for waiting...
Yolato for some frozen yogurt and/or gelato too.