HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
What's your latest food quest? Share your adventure

Help Me Love 97th & Lex

JungMann Aug 5, 2009 07:11 AM

After living on the UWS for the past few years, and witnessing the evolution of my quiet neighborhood into a full-fledged foodie destination, I am reluctant to move to my new digs in the Upper East Side/Spanish Harlem. Walking around the neighborhood, there is nothing to compare to Fairway, Zabar's, Barney Greengrass or even my Korean bodega with fresh tofu. Happy hours at Fatty Crab followed by dinner at Shake Shack look like they will never be adequately replaced.

For those who know, help me see the greener grass on the UES. Any good shopping (particularly for fresh vegetables)? Any specialty shops worth nothing --- especially for Asian goods? Any restaurants worth noting for take-away or casual evenings (no Italian, please)? Any bars worth stopping in (extra points for good nachos or wings)?

  1. LeahBaila Aug 5, 2009 07:41 AM

    Taco Taco
    Chinese Mirch (new UES location, though I've only been to the one on Lex in the 20s)
    Flex Mussels (haven't been, but heard good things)
    Burger One
    Greek grocer on corner of Lex and 81st
    Wu Liang Ye


    13 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila
      MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 12:51 PM

      I much prefer El Paso Taqueria (97th between Mad & Park) to Taco Taco, and they have another "branch" further up on Lex, but I've not been there for ages.

      1. re: MMRuth
        LeahBaila Aug 5, 2009 12:58 PM

        Been meaning to hit El Paso for the longest! What do you like there? Thanks.


        1. re: LeahBaila
          City Kid Aug 5, 2009 02:02 PM

          Their pollo al carbon is my favorite!

          1. re: LeahBaila
            MMRuth Aug 18, 2009 11:37 AM

            I particularly like their guacamole, the blue corn fried calamari, and the huitlacoche quesadilla when they have it. My husband raved about a shank (lamb?) that he had there recently. I usually then just have a couple of tacos.

            1. re: MMRuth
              City Kid Aug 20, 2009 06:48 AM

              I think they also have a pork taquitos appetizer that is super delicious! Good sangria, too.

          2. re: MMRuth
            thew Aug 20, 2009 08:30 AM

            i was just at the 104t st branch. excellent mex. (mexcillent)

            1. re: MMRuth
              JungMann Nov 24, 2009 11:49 AM

              I have eaten El Paso more times than I care to recount in the past few months and have been just about uniformly disappointed with every order. I had thought the 97th St outpost was the problem, but I visited the 104th St. original and discovered that it had moved into much fancier digs across the street. Sadly it seem to have left the dynamic spicing and quality behind. The guacamole is bland, salsa lack heat and even the sauces meant to define the mains are woefully simple.

              I have, however, discovered a humble storefront in the Jalapeño Deli on 102 and Lexington. There is little English spoken, though this was the same stumbling block I overcame with El Paso when I started going in 2001. So far I have found it hard to resist their tortas, which are some of the best in the neighborhood. True they could use more vegetable and beans, but the meat and quesillo are both of such high quality that I almost forget the missing texture. Their chorizo is a perfect combination of spices, nothing too much dominating the other. Their quesadillas threaten to be an addiction bedecked with cotija and with the off-menu option of very flavorful chicken bursting out of the flour tortillas (regulares are served with homemade corn tortillas). The one fail has been their carnitas, which are not at all crisp. They are mostly flaccid pieces of fat, but that has only been more reason for me to make meals of their chorizo.

              Jalapeno Deli
              1629 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10029

              1. re: JungMann
                MMRuth Nov 24, 2009 11:58 AM

                Thanks for the update - I will have to give your find a try. In terms of El Paso and heat, sometimes they really have to be convinced. I think it helps when my husband insists in his Dominican Spanish that we want piquante.

                1. re: MMRuth
                  JungMann Nov 24, 2009 12:35 PM

                  Given your familiarity with Dominican cuisine, I was wondering if you and/or your husband had ever tried Judy's. I pass by every day and my interest is piqued but I have never seen food on any of the occupied tables!

                  1. re: JungMann
                    MMRuth Nov 24, 2009 12:37 PM

                    Actually, we haven't. He tends to not be into going out for Dominican food. Where is it?

                    1. re: MMRuth
                      JungMann Nov 24, 2009 12:41 PM

                      It is on Lexington between 97th and 98th. Both my roommates have been too intimidated to venture inside, so it looks like I may have to be the intrepid explorer.

                      1. re: JungMann
                        City Kid Nov 25, 2009 10:02 AM

                        Thanks for the tip on Jalapeno Deli. I like El Paso, but am always interested in branching out. Just passed Judi's last night, on the way back from Giovanna's. I've seen it for years and do think the hygiene looks sketchy. If you do go I'd be interested in hearing about it but not sure I'm brave enough for that one.

                        Giovanna's (Lexington & 100th) by the way, continues to be excellent for both great pizza with generous, fresh toppings (the chef/owner is a spinoff of Nick's) and very good, homestyle Italian pastas and entrees. Lovely service, reasonable prices, and not nearly as busy as it deserves to be.

                        1567 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10029

                    2. re: JungMann
                      aliu Jan 17, 2010 02:52 PM

                      I went there last week for one of their lunch specials (a GREAT deal for $6.50). I had the chicken stew with a side of rice and beans. The portions were huge and the food was hearty and good in that home-cooked way. I definitely recommend it!

            2. Toot Aug 5, 2009 08:02 AM

              The Associated Supermarked at 96th and Lexington has actually very good produce. Not a fancy store, but the produce selection is quite good.

              1. r
                RGR Aug 5, 2009 09:44 AM

                Not our nabe, but our daugher and son-in-live up there. We've been to Cafe d'Alsace a couple of times. Good food and bustling atmospherics.


                The two of them really like Flex Mussels (mentioned by LeahBailah).


                For Zabar-style shopping:

                Eli's (as in Zabar) and his Vinegar Factory- http://www.elismanhattan.com/zabar/

                Agata & Valentina (Daughter often shops here.) - http://www.agatavalentina.com

                Bakery: Two Little Red Hens - http://www.twolittleredhens.com

                10 Replies
                1. re: RGR
                  Toot Aug 5, 2009 10:42 AM

                  Vinegar Factory produce is terrible and really overpriced. The bread is good, though.

                  1. re: Toot
                    MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 12:53 PM

                    Yes, unfortunately, Eli's and Vinegar Factory are nothing like Zabar in terms of pricing- quite to the contrary. I do buy things occasionally at Eli's when I can't find them anywhere else.

                    Schaller & Weber is just north of Two Little Red Hens - they have a good butcher counter, etc. Though, now that I think of it JungMann, I think you are already familiar with it.

                    Liquor Stores - there are two on Lex that are open on Sundays - one between 93rd & 94th, and one south of 92nd Street. (Always good to know!)

                    1. re: MMRuth
                      JungMann Aug 5, 2009 01:37 PM

                      I visit Zabar's mainly for appetizing and well-priced cheese. I'm willing to spend for good liver, fish and especially whitefish salad, but it doesn't sound like Eli's and Vinegar Factory are quite what I'm looking for?

                      Schaller & Weber are well-noted. They will replace Salumeria Rosi for me, which is quite fine since I prefer German charcuterie anyway.

                      Ah, liquor stores! You know me only too well! Any recommendations price-wise? I am more of a spirits drinker than wine and do believe you gave me a fantastic recommendation on Columbus a while back.

                      1. re: JungMann
                        MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 01:42 PM

                        I don't think Eli's/Vinegar factory will do that for you - they may well sell those things, but oy gevalt re: the prices.

                        Liquor stores - no particularly good recs (just the open on Sunday thing!) - we usually order wine from K&D and have it delivered, and you might enjoy perusing it as it is a nice shop (96th & Madison - just south of Mad.). There is also Mr. Wright over on Third Avenue and 90th or so - near the post office. Their prices may be a bit better. I don't buy much in the way of spirits.

                        (BTW - I emailed you in case I can help with non-chow stuff.)

                        There is Tal Bagels - http://nymag.com/listings/stores/tal-... - E. 86th Street that might work for whitefish salad.

                        Fish - I get mine delivered from Dorian's mostly, but it is v. expensive. Or, I buy it at Citarella. I do think there are some fish mongers maybe on Third Ave. in the 100s, but I've not tried them.

                        1. re: JungMann
                          City Kid Aug 5, 2009 02:07 PM

                          Here's a whitefish salad tip: a new bagel place opened on Madison (west side) between 96th & 97th Sts. I don't love the bagels, which I get from Gourmet Garage and think are very good, but the whitefish salad is excellent!!! As good, IMO, to the whitefish salad at Russ & Daughters and better than Zabar's, Westside Market, etc. I learned that the guy who makes it used to work at the now defunct Petak's. Not sweet or too much mayo, normally my chief complaints. The baked salmon salad is also good but not as good.

                          Very good fish store on Second Ave. btw. 105-106.

                          1. re: City Kid
                            MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 02:12 PM

                            Oh that is good to know about that bagel place - I've not been in.

                            1. re: MMRuth
                              JP_nyc Oct 18, 2009 09:46 AM

                              Name of the place is "Fresh Bagels on Madison" at #1392, b/w 96/97 and alas the bagels are not good -- they somehow manage to be simultaneously fluffy and gummy, even when toasted (which they do upon request), and often have an odd, slightly bitter aftertaste. I think this place is connected with Salata up the block -- FBM replaced a redundant Salata take-out offshoot that always looked empty and wasn't good either.

                              1. re: JP_nyc
                                JungMann Oct 18, 2009 11:20 AM

                                I did visit to try their whitefish salad. It's very respectable, but I think I prefer the version I had back on the west side with more mayo and a bit of celery.

                          2. re: JungMann
                            smarty Aug 7, 2009 10:21 AM

                            There is a wonderful wine shop, bottleandsoul at Lexington & 81st. Open Sunday with a terrific selection of spirits as well as a great wine selection. Many producers that aren't all over town. Plus, it is beautiful. Check it out

                            1. re: smarty
                              MMRuth Aug 7, 2009 03:05 PM

                              They also have quite an impressive selection of Kosher wines.

                    2. kelea Aug 5, 2009 09:55 AM

                      Hey JungMann,

                      Where is this Korean bodega on the UWS?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kelea
                        JungMann Aug 5, 2009 11:56 AM

                        I get tofu from the guy on Columbus and 70th who says it's made in-house. It's not as good as what I get at H-Mart, but it makes for fine curry or mapo tofu when I'm in the mood.

                        1. re: JungMann
                          kelea Aug 5, 2009 03:08 PM

                          Anything close is good for me! tThanks! :)

                      2. c
                        City Kid Aug 5, 2009 10:22 AM

                        As a Carnegie Hill resident who is always carting food home from elsewhere -- particularly the UWS -- you have my sympathies!

                        For fresh veggies, the Associated at 96th & Lex is the way to go. Don't be put off by this down-at-the-heels store. The stuff is fresh and the store clean, the produce as good or better than most greengrocers and a bargain. As an all-around grocery store it is pretty good, too.

                        If you are accustomed to Fairway and Zabar's you may have a stroke when you see the prices at EAT (not too convenient anyway), Eli's and Vinegar Factory, aka the food museum. Agata and Valentina is good, but not really for every day shopping and, again, not very convenient.

                        For good, informal restaurants my advice is, go north. Many good places in East Harlem and along the new restaurant row on Lexington in the low 100s: Itzocan for slighly more upscale, Moustache for cheap Turkish.Med, Joy Burger...a bit farther up on 106th is La Fonda Boriqua for homestyle PR food, great takeout chickens, stews, rice and beans, etc. at El Barrio Restaurant on 103 St. btw. Third and Lex.

                        I feel your pain and longing for the UWS food scene but you'll survive and there is always the crosstown bus!

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: City Kid
                          MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 12:44 PM

                          There is Gourmet Garage too at 96th & Park, though I'm not generally a fan of Gourmet Garage.

                          Ottomanelli Burger & Waffle Fries - 93rd & Lex - About $8.00 or so before tip. They have a full bar too, and some nice wines by the glass. I often stop in for a quick lunch after a visit to Kitchen Arts & Letters, which is across the street. Much better than Joy Burger, IMO.

                          Holland Court Butcher - 93rd & Lex - don't let the store front dissuade you - they've got a full meat locker back there and good quality meats. They also have some seafood, but I only by the shrimp from them, and then only in a pinch. They deliver too.

                          Casablanca - I think you would love this butcher up at 110th just west of Lex - v. good prices, every part of an animal that you could possibly want, long lines, but if you place your order ahead of time, you can just pick it up.

                          Tutto Sfoglia - next door to Sfoglia, on 92nd just west of Lex - a bit hidden, but it is a newish food market. They sell their fresh pastas, their amazing breads, sandwiches etc.

                          Pizza - newish place on 96th between Park & Lex - was impressed by their pizza by the slice (oh - you said no Italian, and as usual, I can't remember it's name).

                          Asian - this is a tough one, mitigated by the fact that it takes about 20 minutes to get to Chinatown on the subway. If you give me more of an idea of what sorts of things you are looking for in terms of ingredients, I might be able to come up w/ a couple of ideas.

                          Will see what else I can think of.
                          Farmer's Market - 99th & Madison on Wednesdays - four or five vendors.

                          1. re: MMRuth
                            JungMann Aug 5, 2009 01:27 PM

                            Thanks for the recommendations! Casablanca sounds like it will be a must for me as I have missed having an affordable, quality butcher while on the UWS. And even while I don't like Italian, I appreciate knowing where I can get Arborio or salume for visitors who want nothing but Italian. Are there weekend Farmer's Markets worth nothing or will I just continue going to Union Square?

                            The UWS is largely a wasteland for quality Asian (Szechuan Gourmet, Earthen Oven and Bar Bao being relative newcomers) so I got used to cooking for myself. But on those occasions I am missing one ingredeient, I have become accustomed to stopping at Fairway where I could usually find Thai, Chinese and Indian products (spices, black bean sauce, curry paste, daikon, etc.). In worst case scenarios I could ask a restaurant to help me out, as I did at Earthen Oven when I ran out of hari chutney a few posts ago. Will I have the same freedom on the UES? Are there any noteworthy Asian restaurants that an actual Asian person would enjoy up there?

                            1. re: JungMann
                              Toot Aug 5, 2009 01:32 PM

                              There is a new Thai place, Osha on 2nd Ave bet 88/89 sts. It's BYOB and quite nice. The menu is in menupage.com. I am not sure how authentic it is because I am not that familiar with Thai cuisine but I had dinner there a couple of weeks ago and the food was very good.

                              1. re: JungMann
                                MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 01:46 PM

                                The farmer's market is only on Wednesdays, and is not too exciting - mostly produce and some baked goods. On the Asian front - I'd say nothing rave worthy that I can think of. Markets do carry some Asian ingredients, but it's usually hit or miss, I often check several stores, and sometimes the brands are not the ones I prefer. There is always Dean & Deluca in a pinch - 85th and Madison - might be worth just peeking in one day to see what they have, in case you find yourself in a pinch in the future. Of course, in a pinch you can also email me, as I seem to have a ridiculous amount of ingredients!

                                1. re: JungMann
                                  LNG212 Aug 5, 2009 01:53 PM

                                  JungMann, MMRuth is right about that Wednesday market. It's not so hot but okay in a pinch. You might be better off popping across 96th Street to the farmers market on W. 97th which is just wonderful. It's on Fridays.

                                  1. re: JungMann
                                    MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 02:18 PM

                                    For Italian ingredients there is a nice market called Milano at Third and 89th, that I discovered has a number of the products that I like to buy on Arthur Avenue.

                                    1. re: JungMann
                                      mccaugheyd Jun 9, 2011 07:58 PM

                                      In terms of finding asian ingredients. I am like you. I prefer to cook that food myself. I find it tasted better and I know what is in it. I do sometimes go to restaurants and pick up ingredients or sauces from them sometimes. I started doing that in college when I was in Westchester. I grew up on the UES and live here now. I know that there are many overprices stores around here, but I have found that certain things at each store are reasonable. Annie's fruits and vegetables on Lex btw. 88 & 89th has SOME reasonable items and a lot of overpriced things. They have wonton skins, dumpling skins and rice paper for fresh (raw) spring rolls. I do with they had regular spring roll wrappers (I am still looking for those). Most of their groceries are ridiculous, but you have to know what to get and they are open 24/7 if you are in a pinch. They do have good ginger dressing, great bean sprouts that you can buy by the pound and some other unusual veggies (mini zucchini and patty pan (sp?) squash. They do have lots of asian veggies but sometimes you have to ask them because they seem to hide them. If you find any good places (especially a farmers market) let me know. I just moved back here earlier this year and am reacquanting myself to the neighborhood. Welcome to the UES!

                                      1. re: JungMann
                                        mccaugheyd Jun 9, 2011 08:59 PM

                                        Also meant to tell you that I lived in midtown east near 1st avenue in the upper 50's for a few months a while ago. I remember there being a few great Japanese stores that sold lots of authentic (straight from Japan) ingredients. Not produce but great staples if you want to make a Japanese meal. This was a while ago but I am sure at least one or two of them are still around. I wish I could tell you the name but you can always take the subway down to 59th and go east to third or second. I do know the few I went to were all on side streets, I think off third or second and were either on 58th or 59th. Hope your move goes smoothly.

                                        1. re: mccaugheyd
                                          thew Jun 9, 2011 09:42 PM

                                          kanoyama is n 59th between 2nd and 3rd

                                          1. re: thew
                                            squid kun Jun 10, 2011 12:09 AM

                                            Don't know a grocery by that name (there's a popular sushi restaurant called Kanoyama downtown). But on that stretch of 59th there's a decent Japanese grocery called Katagiri.

                                            224 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022

                                            1. re: squid kun
                                              thew Jun 10, 2011 04:30 AM

                                              brain fart - of course i meant katagiri. posting while half asleep on the couch watching a delayed baseball game is not conducive to clear thought

                                    2. re: City Kid
                                      MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 12:54 PM

                                      I have heard that about the Associated, but haven't been in myself. I recommend skipping the Pioneer at Lex & 92nd - lousy produce, scary looking fish, and over priced (which says a lot in this neighborhood).

                                      1. re: City Kid
                                        sukekiyo Nov 24, 2009 05:44 PM

                                        I echo the rec for Lechonera El Barrio on E. 103rd. Winston & Tee Express is a take-out only place on Park & E. 97th - nothing spectacular but definitely a welcome change from the usual neighborhood suspects.

                                        I can only vouch for lunch at both Yo In Yo Out (French, Lexington between E. 100th/101st) and La Galette (Senegalese, E. 100th near Lexington) but I definitely liked both and am inclined to think that evenings should be fine as well. :)

                                        Winston & Tee
                                        1257 Park Ave, New York, NY 10029

                                        Lechonera El Barrio
                                        172 E 103rd St, New York, NY 10029

                                      2. Miss Needle Aug 5, 2009 12:18 PM

                                        You should check out MMRuth's lists. Her recs are always spot-on!


                                        1. k
                                          klw07 Aug 5, 2009 01:39 PM

                                          Hi neighbor! I'm on 97th between Park & Lex, for the past 2 years. There's great produce at the little place that just opened on the northwest corner of 96th and Lex, across from Associated. It has the same name as a place on 1st ave in the low 90s, forget where, with the cheapest eggs I've ever seen and great prepared meals, will try and remember the name.
                                          Sfoglia and Tutto Sfoglia are both wonderful
                                          Cavatappo at 90th and 2nd is a good everyday wine bar with a great goat cheese and truffle oil pizza
                                          Pio Pio is this Peruvian chicken place on 1st between 90th and 91st and it's the cheapest, most delicious, massively portioned chicken/fries/platters around. If I eat here, I'm eating it for the next three days for lunch and it's still good.
                                          Champignon on Madison between 96th and 97th is a good local coffee/bagel/breakfast place
                                          Etats-Unis on 81st between 2nd and 3rd is another good wine/dessert place if you go to the bar, the full restaurant across the street is good too.
                                          You've got the jump on every tourist trying to get to Sarabeth's for brunch--or at least, you don't have to get up early to begin your massive wait on line.
                                          Corner Bakery on 3rd and 92nd is great (there's a restaurant and separate bakery)
                                          Barking Dog/Fetch are both overrated but serviceable
                                          Kinsale's is your neighborhood Irish pub
                                          El Paso Taqueria on 97th between Park and Madison is good, but the one on 103rd is better
                                          Peri Ela is good Turkish if you don't want to all the way south to Beyoglu (but go anyway, it's excellent)
                                          Table d'Hote is one of those hole-in-the-wall 5-table french places that is almost too adorable, good classic food.

                                          These are all (but for one or two) in the east 90s alone--you're in close proximity to every great and not great bar and restaurant south to midtown. You'll definitely find your way--I moved from west to east with the same apprehension, and now when I go back to the west side it looks so dead to me. I have all my basic places, some excellent places (plus, you know, still have access to the rest of the island) and I can afford my apartment as well as good food!

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: klw07
                                            MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 02:16 PM

                                            Do you ever go to Hanratty's (sp?)? It looks nice inside, but it's one of those places we keep meaning to try, but haven't.

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              City Kid Aug 5, 2009 03:31 PM

                                              Hanratty's is good, not great, but a nice neighborhood joint. Good burgers and sandwiches and straightforward seafood, chicken, etc. You won't rave about it but convenient in a pinch. Nice and comfy with friendly service.

                                            2. re: klw07
                                              sukekiyo Aug 5, 2009 03:41 PM

                                              The store on the NW corner of 96th and Lex is called Fresh From The Farm, I think. I like it a lot! I noticed on my last visit that they have a selection of Turkish snacks and sweets, as well as Turkish bread and the usual pre-made suspects like baba ganoush and tabbouleh.

                                              JungMann, I feel your pain. Getting Asian goods is going to be a challenge - I flee from this area on a weekly basis to stock up on basics like natto and tofu, and I nearly burned with envy when a friend at Columbia mentioned M2M near her place. Fortunately the 6 train is a straight shot to Midtown East, Astor Place and Chinatown...

                                              Gajyumaru (1st Ave. between 86th and 87th) is a cute little Japanese place with good homestyle dishes. I've heard good things about Yo In Yo Out (Lexington between 100th and 101st) and Don Pedro's (corner of 96th and 2nd Ave.) but I haven't been to either. I sometimes venture up to Taco Mix (116th between 2nd and 3rd) - I guess the one upside to living this far uptown is that good, cheap Latin American fare is just a few blocks away. :)

                                              1. re: sukekiyo
                                                MMRuth Aug 5, 2009 06:01 PM

                                                Gajyumaru is one of our favorite places for sushi these days. Lovely quiet restaurant, excellent service and quite pristine sushi/ It's been a long time since I've been to Don Pedro's - I recall liking the food (bacalao croquetas?) but thinking that it was a bit expensive.

                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                  City Kid Aug 6, 2009 06:50 AM

                                                  I remember feeling the same way about Don Pedro's -- expensive for what it is -- and not all that great. For Latin I prefer El Paso, though I know it's not really apples to apples. Been meaning to try Yo In Yo our -- looks inviting!

                                                2. re: sukekiyo
                                                  squid kun Aug 6, 2009 02:02 AM

                                                  Don't know about the newer location on Lex, but on 1st Ave., right around where klw07 was talking about, there was a place called Straight From the Market. I recall some Turkish-style breads (from a bakery in NJ, I think) and some interesting cheeses and packaged desserts. Worth checking out if you're in the area, for sure.

                                                  Straight From the Market
                                                  408 E 92nd St, New York, NY 10128

                                                  1. re: sukekiyo
                                                    JungMann Aug 6, 2009 05:49 AM

                                                    My new roommates told me Fresh From The Farm would be good for certain produce and nuts. I am thrilled to hear they have Turkish goods. Hopefully they can make up for the distance between me and the International Grocery by providing another source for tahini, Aleppo pepper and feta.

                                                    While on the West Side I got used to the 15-min. commute to H-Mart for tofu, kimchi, shirataki, etc. Are there any suppliers that are a short distance away? I already know Katagiri, but they are a bit of a hike from the train and they don't have good kimchi or meat. Gajyumaru sounds like a bright spot. My old sushi choices were Gari or Tenzan. One was unaffordable and the other was inedible.

                                                    1. re: JungMann
                                                      MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 08:50 AM

                                                      There is another sushi place on 86th St. between 1st & 2nd called Tokubei 86 that is quite good as well, and perhaps a bit cheaper than Gajyumaru:


                                                3. k
                                                  kewlly Aug 5, 2009 03:16 PM

                                                  My wife and I have lived on 96th between 2nd and 3rd for the past year or so. She used to live near Union Square, so food-wise we still miss the East Village lots, but we have found some things we like in the UES over the past year. Most of these places have already been mentioned by others, but here are my thoughts:

                                                  Pio Pio - big fan of this place, the restaurant is actually really small, so I usually get this delivered. One of the best values for a hearty meal anywhere in the city.

                                                  Ottomanellis - another good value place. Dig the Popcorn Shrimp Burger and Waffle Fries. Their lamb chops are decent and are amongst the cheapest in the city as well. I've tried the steak there before too, but it was pretty chewy and not flavorful (don't think it's aged) so I'd steer clear of that. I think they have a butcher's shop close by as well.

                                                  Kinsale Tavern - I'm a big soccer fan, so I frequent Kinsale often. Good irish breakfast.

                                                  Sfoglia - excellent pasta. nearly impossible to get a reservation there, but it's usually not too hard to walk-in get a table at the bar

                                                  Flex Mussels - great mussels, decent fish and chips, so-so lobster roll. Used to go there a lot when it first opened, but haven't visited in a few months. A little expensive, but probably one of the best seafood options in the neighborhood

                                                  Tenzan Sushi - another decent value for money place. A little hit or miss in terms of the quality, but reasonably priced and they deliver

                                                  Pascalou (across the street from Sarabeth's) has decent brunch and a much shorter line

                                                  We pretty much shop at Associated for most of our basic groceries, and do the occasional trip to Gourmet Garage for fresh steak and seafood.

                                                  16 Replies
                                                  1. re: kewlly
                                                    pups224 Aug 6, 2009 05:44 AM

                                                    Having lived in this hood forever, I secong Associated for veggies along with Agata and Valentina. Gourmet Garage has the worst veggies and their meat is awful.
                                                    For a butcher, Schaller is very good if pricey.
                                                    I never buy fish up here.
                                                    A good Hungarian bakery is Andre's. Excellent strudel.
                                                    As for restaurants: No one has mentioned Square meal on 92nd, which is just wonderful.
                                                    Yura's on Madison has excellent take out and desserts.
                                                    A new French Bistro just opened on 93rd and Madison. The menu looks very authentic and the owner is French.
                                                    Pio Pio has wonderful chicken and tostones. The empanada place nexto it is good too.
                                                    Hanratty's is a nice bar with so-so food.
                                                    I have never had a good experience with Peri Ella. Very pricey too.
                                                    Gajyumaru for sushi is outstanding.
                                                    Then there is Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Museum for early Viennese dinner.
                                                    For Chinese, the most authenitc is Wu liang Ye on 86th.
                                                    Etas Unis was sold about 3 years ago and was never the same. Maybe the wine bar is better.
                                                    Hummus kitchen on second and 83rd has amazing hummus and falafel.
                                                    A so-so Greek restaurant in a pinch is Ithaka on 86th.
                                                    I never shop at anything to do with Eli Zabar because his prices are so outrageous.
                                                    For cheese, I go to Dean & Deluca on 85th, but only if desperate.
                                                    I've tried Sfolglia three times and have come away unimpressed.
                                                    Flex mussels is great and not expensive.
                                                    I guess that's it.
                                                    Places I avoid are Vico restaurant, Peri Ella, Centolire and any of the B&T bar-like places on third and second.
                                                    I guess that's it. When I really need to stock up, I shop at Fairways.

                                                    1. re: pups224
                                                      thew Aug 6, 2009 05:55 AM

                                                      some other places on the UES, though perhaps further afield from you.

                                                      naruto ramen - 89th and 3rd - good ramen for 8.50, 6.50 on mondays
                                                      york grill - 89th and york. an underappreciated gem of NYC
                                                      i don't go to agata anymore, since they fired workers for trying to unionize
                                                      i use citarella instead - pricy but good fish meat and fresh veggies
                                                      tenzan sushi is good, as is ichiro
                                                      shanghai pavillion, our place, lillis noodles, for chinese
                                                      szechuan hunan cottage (is it still called that?) for chinesedelivery
                                                      flex mussels - love it.(hi alexandra)
                                                      further south - tatany 72 for homestyle japanese
                                                      i like etas unis, but have not been in a few years
                                                      paty's taco truck on 86th and lex for tacos
                                                      chennai on 87th and first for south indian food

                                                      ok my brain hurts so i'm stopping now

                                                      1. re: thew
                                                        JungMann Aug 6, 2009 06:03 AM

                                                        I am thrilled to hear I'm in delivery distance of Our Place! They are my favorite place for lunchtime Shanghainese at the office. I've heard it told that they do good renditions of Szechuanese, too. Have you tried any of it?

                                                        1. re: thew
                                                          MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 08:52 AM

                                                          Yes, I like to Ichiro too - we usually order in from there. How do you think Tenzan compares these days? We went twice after they first opened, and were turned off by the food on our second visit.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                            thew Aug 6, 2009 02:07 PM

                                                            i think tenzan is flashier, the sushi more beautiful, and less traditional. The sushi is more traditional, smaller pieces, at ichiro. I haven't eat much other than sushi at either place (i have my fave places for non sushi japanese) but i never had a bad piece at either place.

                                                            1. re: thew
                                                              MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 02:22 PM

                                                              Thanks - maybe we'll give it another try, though I don't like big pieces, and now that I think about it, that, and the luke warm sashimi turned me off the place, if I recall correctly.

                                                        2. re: pups224
                                                          MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 08:53 AM

                                                          "A new French Bistro just opened on 93rd and Madison. The menu looks very authentic and the owner is French."

                                                          Le Paris - I was told it's the same owner as the previous place (Bistro du Nord). I also thought the menu looked more interesting, and perhaps better priced, than Bistro du Nord's.

                                                        3. re: kewlly
                                                          JungMann Aug 6, 2009 05:51 AM

                                                          Kinsale sounds great! No more trips to Nevada Smith's for matches! Where is Ottomanelli's butcher shop on the UES?

                                                          1. re: JungMann
                                                            kewlly Aug 6, 2009 06:50 AM

                                                            Kinsale is great. It's a much more mellow atmosphere compared to Nevada's Smith, but it's nice to be able to actually get a seat and eat breakfast while watching an EPL game in the mornings.

                                                            Ottomanelli's is on 82nd and York. It's a little far from the 90s, so I have yet to venture out there.

                                                            Does anyone know a good place to pick up fresh meat (steaks and lamb chops) that's reasonably priced? I haven't tried anything beyond Gourmet Garage.

                                                            1. re: kewlly
                                                              klw07 Aug 6, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                              Lobel's is hardly reasonably priced, but they are excellent. Also, JungMann, don't forget that you're just steps away from Kitchen Art & Letters (Lex between 93rd and 94th) which is one of my favorite food-related aspects of living in this neighborhood.

                                                              1. re: kewlly
                                                                MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 08:55 AM

                                                                Have you tried Holland Court? I occasionally buy meat at Murphy's on Madison. There is also Casablanca, to which I refer above, further north. I detest Food Emporium, but the butcher at Dean & Deluca told me that the meat there is from the same wholesaler as D&D.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                                  klw07 Aug 6, 2009 02:03 PM

                                                                  Really? Hm...good to know. I work right near a Dean & Deluca so generally just buy there or somewhere else near my office rather than near my home. Not that big an inconvenience as long as I'm not buying a side of beef, which I never am.

                                                                  1. re: klw07
                                                                    MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 02:06 PM

                                                                    Yes - I was looking for a cut of meat at D&D and the butcher told me he didn't have it, and to check Food Emporium etc.

                                                                2. re: kewlly
                                                                  tirschwell Aug 7, 2009 12:04 PM

                                                                  I really like the butchers at Agata. I never get a bad cut from them.

                                                                3. re: JungMann
                                                                  Gelaine Aug 8, 2009 04:30 PM

                                                                  Ottomanelli is a little out of the way at 82nd and York. But Dorian is just up the street at 83rd and York (best fish I've ever had ... she's a Rosedale alum). You might check the two out in one fell swoop. I've had good luck with lambchops at the Food Emporium. My husband prefers them to those I've bought at the Vinegar Factory and Ottomanelli. (??)
                                                                  Anyhow the Our Place up here doesn't get as good reviews as the one in the 50's... you might wantt to do more research.

                                                                  1. re: Gelaine
                                                                    MMRuth Aug 18, 2009 11:40 AM

                                                                    I've started ordering fish from Dorian - fabulous fish and I love that they deliver.

                                                              2. f
                                                                fern Aug 6, 2009 09:06 AM

                                                                It's been a few years, but we ate at Itzocan at about 100 & Lex and enjoyed it very much. Small place so probably not a hang out but it'd make a nice casual supper spot or take-away store. It's Mexican-French fusion and I know some people are tired of fusion everything but as I recall the menu wasn't silly and everything we ate was delicious.

                                                                The lighting seems to be goofy in their photography, but you can take a look at the menu and specials etc.

                                                                1. d
                                                                  DJIllies Aug 6, 2009 03:53 PM

                                                                  We think the best hamburgers in the City are at Joy Burger - about 100th & Lex.

                                                                  1. MsLauraEB Aug 11, 2009 01:13 PM

                                                                    I totally second (or third or whatever) all the Pio Pio recs.

                                                                    For sushi delivery/take away (NOT dining in) you might try Hokkaido - http://www.hokkaidosushi.com/. The fish is always fresh, as the ginger (amazing - not the pickled pink stuff you're always stuck with from delivery) and they'll delivery sake and/or beer with your order - whole large bottles, even.

                                                                    1. b
                                                                      bob96 Aug 11, 2009 02:21 PM

                                                                      Posters have just about covered the waterfront, but you might want to note:

                                                                      Pizza--Giovanna's on 100th and Lex (a clone of Nick's on 92nd and 2nd) for good brick oven pies. The pizza shop on 96th-Lex/Park is Luzzo's, a branch of the EV shop, with good, light margherita and sicilian slices (take away). Closed till Sept for vacation.

                                                                      Liquor--K+D on Madison and 96th for mid- higher-end wines and Mr Wright on Third and 90th for large, value selections.

                                                                      Gelato--Ciao Bella, 93rd/Madison-Fifth

                                                                      Living @96 and Park, Goumet Garage and the Associated on lex are regular stops.
                                                                      Garage has begin moderaitng some of its prices, and it's a decent source for produce,
                                                                      fresh fish, meat, coffee, bagels. Not overley a fan of their prepared foods. The Associated can get crowded and chaotic, but look closely for produce buys.

                                                                      Trends: keep your eyes focused north, as I suspect many changes will hit the high 90s and lower 100s.


                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: bob96
                                                                        MMRuth Aug 11, 2009 02:55 PM

                                                                        Just a quick note that Ciao Bella is on 92nd Street (I have to resist temptation several times a day walking by!).

                                                                        I'm amazed at how many posters are in this area - quite exciting!

                                                                        1. re: bob96
                                                                          DJIllies Aug 12, 2009 03:57 PM

                                                                          Ciao Bella is on 92nd

                                                                        2. e
                                                                          EBT Aug 12, 2009 06:25 AM

                                                                          I saw some posts about farmer's markets in the area, but wanted to note that there is an excellent one on Sundays at 92nd and 1st! Runs to late November like all the other Greenmarkets.

                                                                          1. pups224 Apr 6, 2010 03:03 AM

                                                                            I was so excited when a new Indian place opened up in the old sushi restaurant on 95th and Madison. It was North Indian to boot. Name is Maharaja Palace. I passed by a couple of times and the owner said that they have the best food in NYC. Sadly, not so. Not even close.
                                                                            We took out from there last nignt. I had to repeat my order and address over and over.
                                                                            The food arrived cold. The quality was not good. The portions were small and it was very expensive, even for Indian. They managed to kill one of my favorite appetizers, Pani Poori. It ended up being a sodden, astringent mess. I threw it out. The Saag Paneer had all of three pieces of paneer. The bread tasted of Bisquick. We could not tell the onion kulcha apart from the aloo parata. One had no onions and the other no potatoes.
                                                                            There were no condiments in the bag either. A real disappointment.
                                                                            I guess it's back to Tamarind.

                                                                            Maharaja Palace
                                                                            1350 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10128

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: pups224
                                                                              City Kid Apr 6, 2010 07:26 AM

                                                                              I had a much more positive experience last week eating in and ordering from the $13.95 prix fixe. I was prepared to cut them some slack since it was their first week open. I got the tandoori chicken with mulligatawny soup, basmati rice, and nan...quite good and quite a bargain, I thought. I hope it turns out to be a good go-to place, we sure need it in that 'hood!

                                                                            2. a
                                                                              Anonu Apr 6, 2010 07:08 AM

                                                                              I have to agree with almost every suggestion here. I'll suggest a few places I think are solid UES establishments that have withstood the test of time.
                                                                              1. Mansion Diner (86 and York) - best place for sunday brunch. home fries are awesome
                                                                              2. Yuka - 81 and 2nd - all you can eat sushi for $20ish - but i just go for the solid bowl of udon
                                                                              3. Malaga Restaurant - tapas/Spanish food between 1st and 2nd Ave on 73rd Street. You'd never think of stopping in but the food is great and the place is cozy.

                                                                              These are by no means "amazing" places to eat but they offer a consistent and delicious experience.

                                                                              Finally, if you're in the mood for the greasiest chinese fast food and need it delivered in under 10 minutes or you'll starve to death - i suggest Uptown Cottage on 92 and 2nd. My stomach can only take so much of this place but sometimes you need it...

                                                                              PS. whatever happened to Niche bar? They had great martinis and an awesome chocolate fondant.

                                                                              Mansion Diner
                                                                              1634 York Ave, New York, NY 10028

                                                                              1557 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                                                                              Uptown Cottage
                                                                              1748 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                                                                              406 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

                                                                              1. JungMann Apr 6, 2010 08:04 AM

                                                                                A few updates.

                                                                                I've since tried Judi's for Dominican food. It is your standard, pre-made Caribbean operation with good chivo, rib-sticking rice and beans and okay sancocho. They are a good and cheap take-away place and a welcome change of pace from the usual suspects.

                                                                                Fresh from the Farmer is a joy to have nearby, though their quality is unpredictable and nothing is fresh from the farmer unless they have shortened the trek from Holland or Mexico. I like that I have a nearby option for Middle Eastern goods, but most of my vegetables come from Associated or elsewhere in the city.

                                                                                Gong has become my regular Thai place. They are no Sripraphai, but they beat every other option in the 80s and 90s.

                                                                                I don't like Ottomanelli's. Everything I have tried tastes exactly like bad banquet food: underseasoned proteins with overcooked vegetables swimming, wading through a pool of butter. I can understand why it is often packed -- it is a good value and tries to appeal to a general audience -- but I would rather save this kind of food for bad weddings and hastily planed funerals.

                                                                                When it comes to this part of the city, the most exciting events are taking place above 96th Street with new restaurants opening regularly.

                                                                                Ottomanelli New York Grill
                                                                                1424 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

                                                                                1505 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10029

                                                                                173 E 99th St, New York, NY 10029

                                                                                Fresh From the Farm
                                                                                141 E 96th St, New York, NY 10029

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: JungMann
                                                                                  MMRuth Apr 6, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                                  I'll have to try Gong. I've never eaten anything at Ottomanelli's other than the hamburger. I will give the Indian a try though, since there are mixed reports.

                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                    kiki22 Apr 6, 2010 10:39 AM

                                                                                    check out Tre Otto on Madison between 97 & 98th, it is byob (for now) and a real treat for the hood...it will get even better with the outdoor garden opening soon!

                                                                                    Tre Otto
                                                                                    1408 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10029

                                                                                    1. re: kiki22
                                                                                      elizabeth2929 Apr 18, 2010 05:38 PM

                                                                                      Just tuning into this neighborhood blog.Learned a lot. I want to second Tre Otto. Didn't know about the garden. They have also just joined open table--and reservations are absolutely recommended. I've seen many turned away, even at lunch. We're lucky to have it.

                                                                                      Tre Otto
                                                                                      1408 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10029

                                                                                2. JungMann May 5, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                                  Two recent finds:
                                                                                  1)Earl's Cheese and Beer is a miniature bar that opened up on Park between 97th and 98th. I hate to admit that I'm one of the Johnny Come Latelies no crowding the space, but the only sign I saw on that block was for a vegan sandwich restaurant, and anyone who knows me from the Home Cooking boards knows I don't do vegan sandwiches. They're a little crowded in the evenings, but they are pleasant when you catch them after work. Great selection of American beers with a few imports. Food, as expected, relies heavily on cheese, but also adds a Korean inflection to several dishes. They have prix fixes dinners that also have caught my eye.

                                                                                  2) I have long seen a lady with an umbrella and cooler standing mornings on 96th between Lex and 3rd but never visited her until yesterday. And I'm glad I did. From her cooler she vends hot atole and tamales (pernil, spicy and mild chicken, cheese). So far I've tried the pernil tamales and spicy chicken and have been in heaven. The masa is smooth and slick with shortening. The salsa inside has appreciable heat and plays artfully with the flavor of the masa. Good tamales are rather hard to find in NYC, but now I can get them for breakfast every morning.

                                                                                  Earl's Beer & Cheese
                                                                                  1259 Park Ave, New York, NY 10029

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: JungMann
                                                                                    gargupie Jun 9, 2011 11:03 AM

                                                                                    I see this lady every weekday morning, too. She always toils the heavy cart up the subway stairs and then wait for patrons to do business with. Too bad there's no vegetarian version. My mom enjoyed her chicken tamales one. Have you tried the drink as well?

                                                                                    1. re: gargupie
                                                                                      JungMann Jun 9, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                                                      I haven't tried her atole; it's hard enough trying to eat a tamal on the subway platform. Have you seen her around lately? She hasn't been at her normal spot by Starbucks for over a week and I have been craving one of her spicy chile and cheese tamales.

                                                                                      1. re: JungMann
                                                                                        gargupie Jun 9, 2011 03:14 PM

                                                                                        I don't usually enter from that exit. The last time I saw her was like 2 months ago.

                                                                                  Show Hidden Posts