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Recs for the Upper, Upper West Side

We'll be staying at a friend's place at 101st and CPW. Alot of the UWS recs are somewhat to a lot south of there. Does anyone have any favorites for further up? It doesn't sound like we're going to find much great Chinese. Favorite Italian? Spanish? Central American? Moderate price? We don't mind taking the subway or walking longer distances but it's also nice to be able to walk 15 minutes or so. You guys helped us with a number of things when we were there a few months ago. Looking forward to more of your jewels. Thanks in advance.

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  1. A wonderful turkish restaurant Zeytin is at 85th & Columbus -- easily walkable.

    1. Welcome to the culinary desert. :)

      Honestly, for the most part, it would behoove you to cab or subway down to some of the UWS's finer dining options.

      The only real standout restaurant in the near vicinity that I would actually travel up here for, if I didn't already live nearby, is Thai Market on 107th and Amsterdam. It can get crowded, so make a reservation, esp. if you have a larger party. The digs are attractive, if a little modernistically odd, the prices moderate. Especially try the small plates (daikon radish cake appetizer), grilled skewers, and grilled skirt steak.

      If you don't happen to be from the south, you might like Miss Mamie's Spoonbread on 110th. If you are from the south, you might find it just so-so, but it's not a bad showing for NYC. The digs are sort of cafeteria style.

      Cafe du Soleil is good for, specifically, rotisserie chicken (they have tomato and white wine/garlic renditions, both moist and flavorful), fries and mashed potatoes, creme brullee and chocolate mousse. Everything else is relatively forgettable, but if you happen to be in the area, having a glass of wine with the chicken and looking out the windows at the passersby can be a very pleasant experience. Prices are moderate (tho on the higher end of moderate), digs are French bistro and attractive enough.

      There's a somewhat well regarded place called PicNic nearish you on B'way that I haven't yet tried.

      For good, dirt cheap, street food style Mexican, try Taqueria y Fonda and Noche Mexicana. Actually, I reconsider my earlier statement: I'd come up to this nabe for TyF and NM on occasion, too. Total dives, but in a fun way. Go only if you're not in immediate risk for a heart attack, because either place would probably send you over the edge.

      I don't know of any good Chinese in the area, but China Fun (whose small plates / dim sum / weekend brunch menu are as good as Chinese food gets on the UWS) might deliver up to you.

      Oh, bakeries: Silver Moon Bakery has some nice baked goods and some seating if you should care for a continental sort of breakfast.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        As someone who orders from Thai Market about once a week (I have a standing commitment in the area), I definitely suggest it if you like Thai and don't want to travel. It's the most solid Thai option in the area.

        Thai Market
        960 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

        1. re: whitneybee

          I ordered from Thai Market YEARS ago and received a TERRIBLE dish. Gloppy, sweet, like a Chinese rendition of a Thai dish. But that was years ago shortly after their opening. Should I give it another try?

          1. re: uwsister

            i tried Thai Market last February and wasn't impressed...but i'm housesitting quasi-nearby and wondering if i should give it another try...

      2. A 15 minute walk will take you down to Barney Greengrass - we usually do take out - but they have wonderful smoked salmon, sable, etc.

        1. There are only 2 places I would recommend within walking distance, Mama Mexico and Alouette. When we lived in the neighborhood these were pretty much the only restaurants we liked. Both are good enough that we occasionally make the trip from the Village to eat there. I would also suggest venturing farther south to Nice Matin on 79th and Amsterdam, just a couple of subway stops away.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rrems

            i'd second noche mexicana, taqueria y fonda and thai market. i'm not a big fan of taqueria but, as i always say, it's due to my own individual preferences rather than a reflection on this well-liked place. i also agree with chow fun and silver moon. i'd add the following to your list:

            la rural
            pio pio
            indus valley
            flor de mayo

            i'd strongly recommend against mama mexico.

          2. Within walking or short bus/subway ride:

            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

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

            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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ken J.

              Docks closed several years ago.
              Yuki Sushi closed last year.
              I think that Pizzabolla is also long gone.
              Miyako is still there but under new manageemtn.

              549 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016

            2. I'll throw in Absolute Bagels, Henry's, pizza at Sal and Carmine's and a little bit further Dinosaur is worth a trip

              1. Take a short walk some evening and get tacos at the Supertacos truck parked on the southwest corner of 96th and Broadway.

                9 Replies
                1. re: floretbroccoli

                  This has moved, they park on Columbus above 96th St now. We also enjoy Cafe Frida for Mexican which is Columbus between 97th/98th.

                  We do go to Mama Mexico sometimes, but more to entertain people from out of town than for the food. Guacamole there is good in my experience and food is not horrible.

                  Mama Mexico
                  214 East 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                  Cafe Frida
                  368 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                  1. re: NYCTechy

                    No reason to go to Mama Mexico when there's Noche Mexicana and Taqueria Y Fonda mere blocks away! But Mama Mexico is a lot nicer for guests so I understand it for that purpose.

                    Second Malecon and Freda's for cheap eats, Silver Moon and Absolute Bagels for baked goods.

                    I don't think there's any decent Chinese or Japanese (or Korean for that matter) in the area, unfortunately.

                    1. re: uwsister

                      As OP, we've eaten at Noche Mexicana a couple of times and like it. Absolute Bagel is our go-to because of location. We always carry home two dozen bagels which we freeze and eat frugally for ages.

                      Noche Mexicana
                      852 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

                      Absolute Bagels
                      2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I actually think Absolute is pretty great no matter where it is!

                        How is Cafe Frida's food compared to Mama Mexico, Noche Mexicana, and Taqueria Y Fonda? It's pretty close to me so I'm curious.

                        1. re: uwsister

                          We have been to both but the uptown one is most recent. First visit I ordered and really enjoyed mixiote, on second visit ordered mole negro de Oaxaca which was OK but I did not enjoy as much. It was nice to see (and taste) hand-made tacos from a front-of-house comal.

                          Service was slow the second time, but we enjoy the food and ambience enough to want to go back. Much better than Mama Mexico in my opinion.

                          I've eaten from Taqueria y Fonda (cheaper, and nearer to us) and did not like it at all - maybe I caught them on a bad day. The Super Tacos truck (now parking near uptown Cafe Frida I believe) is better for this type of 'cheap and cheerful' street food in my opinion.

                          Mama Mexico
                          214 East 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                          Cafe Frida
                          368 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                          Super Tacos
                          W 14th St and 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                      2. re: uwsister

                        Ok I'm getting a little confused. Just to clarify, there are TWO Cafe Frida locations (same website) and these are:
                        * Cafe Frida restaurant (Mexican) which is on COLUMBUS between 77th & 78th
                        * Cafe Frida Amsterdam (Mexican) which is on AMSTERDAM between 97th & 98th

                        Then there is Freda's Carribbean & Soul cuisine, which is on Columbus between 108th and 109th.

                        Cafe Frida
                        368 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                        1. re: ozinboz

                          ozinboz - correct as of a few months ago.. the 2nd location of cafe frida was established at 97th when they closed the sister restaurant at that location.

                          uwsister (my preference in order of best to worst)

                          mama mexico (i have lots of issues re this place)

                          1. re: nativeNYer

                            That tells me it's not worth trying! Noche is my #1 and Taqueria is my #2 as well.

                            1. re: uwsister

                              yeh,sort of. it was better nearly 10 years ago. i last tried it 4 years ago (more than once) and it had changed. never been to the W97th location. let me know if you wind up trying it. since we seem to have similar tastes even outside of mex food, i'd be curious to hear your opinion.

                  2. If you are in the mood for ribs and fried chicken, check out Rack and Soul on 109th and Bway. Very tasty.

                    1. i have always really enjoyed toast, on 105th/broadway. you can check out their menu on menupages. they have fabulous soups and sandwiches and steaks/fish entrees. the prices are very reasonable, and the service is consistent (although they don't take reservations for parties smaller than 6, i was told).
                      if you want something to please everyone's tastes, at a reasonable price, toast is worth a shot.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bosox

                        Second the rec for Toast. On Weds they have a burger-plus-draft beer deal which is under $10 and better VFM than any PatLlaFrieda blend.

                      2. I second the Rack and Soul reco. Also I would recommend REGIONAL for wonderful and well-priced Italian--98-99 & Bway. Melba's (114st & Fred Douglas Blvd), her soul food Chicken & Waffles was featured on Food Network recently. Also there's Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too on 110 St & Columbus.

                        There's a cool Jazz spot that serves food (I stay with drinks) called SMOKE at 105 & Bway.

                        I've had my eye on PICNIC (103 & Bway) for a while--supposedly good bistro/casual french inspired food. They sell food to go in front. Cute spot.

                        This area has many options if you keep an open mind and walk a little.

                        1. I should also mention MALECON (98/99 & Amsterdam), a cuban spot with good Rotissiere Chicken. I use it for take out when I feel like eating in. This is a great cheap eat in the area.

                          1. Freda's, my favourite neighbourhood cheap eats (Caribbean Soul) is about eight blocks up from you.

                            1. these might be a little bit longer than 15 mins walking.
                              Salumeria Rosi
                              Buttercup Bakery (banana pudding)
                              Levain Bakery
                              I also like the ice cream sandwich at Jacque Torres

                              Levain Bakery
                              167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

                              Salumeria Rosi
                              283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

                              234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: daffyduck

                                Adore Salumeria Rossi. Met two NYC CHs there and had a great lunch. We're not sweet eaters but I'm sure others will enjoy those. Thanks.

                              2. I would recommend Dinosaur BBQ over Rack and Soul. Dino is at 130th and 12th ave.

                                Also, Absolute Bagels is fantastic.

                                Great Thai at 108th and Amsterdam, Wondee Siam V

                                Absolute Bagels
                                2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                                Wondee Siam V
                                969 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

                                Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
                                777 W. 125th Street, New York, NY 10027

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: EatNYC111

                                  Love the Thai rec. Had a drink at Dinosaur after shopping at that Fairway. Didn't eat but it seems fun. But not walking distance.

                                  1. re: EatNYC111

                                    Dinosaur has better beer. Expect a long wait for a table. Reserve the day before.
                                    Rack and Soul has better food.

                                  2. I'm sure c oliver has already come and gone. But Sookk on 102nd would fit the bill for Thai. The Thai food is a bit different from the other Thai restaurants as it's supposed to be influenced by the Yaowarat hood of Bangkok.

                                    2686 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      Second the rec for Sookk.

                                      2686 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        for those who haven't been to BKK: "Yaowarat-influence" means it's Chinese-style Thai food...

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          We haven't been to NYC this year but try to get there once or twice a year. You can count on the fact that I've saved this. Thanks again to all.

                                        2. I would recommend A Cafe and Wine Room - Caribbean influenced food - from the same people that brought you Ivo & Lulu. It's BYOB.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: cuizhine

                                            Second A. BYOB, no corkage fee, and $25 prix-fixe between 6-8 p.m. Recommend pear, escargot, and duck confit. Food can be a tad salty though.

                                              1. re: c oliver


                                                A Cafe
                                                973 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10025

                                                1. re: squid kun

                                                  Wow. Their menu looks great and not crazy expensive. Thanks.