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My wife and I will be spending a weekend in NYC,staying on the Upper West Side around 87th and Broadway.

I'd like some suggestions for good breakfasts in the neighborhood. We may want dinner in the neighborhood, too. As for lunch, I'm not sure where in NY we'll be at lunchtime. For dinners, looking for something moderately priced (say entrees that max out at $25, preferably $20 or less) We're open to any sort of cuisine, but as my wife only eats vegetarian or fish at non-kosher restaurants, it should have good vegetarian or fish options, (or be a supervised kosher restaurant.) We might get theater tickets, so any suggestions in the theater district are welcome, too.

We're also taking dinner-hour train out of town at the end of our trip, so any suggestions of where to stock up for a portable meal so we can avoid the Amtrak cafe car cuisine would be greatly appreciated. (That includes places with a good selection of wine in half bottles.)

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  1. Bkfast: Grandaisy Bakery, Levain Bakery, Tal Bagels (assuming you're not wanting a full "sit down and be waited on" meal)

    Dinners: Gazala (perf for your wife), Cafe Frida...

    5 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      I like Gazala a lot but many people I know prefer the Hells Kitchen one. Cafe Frida, although they have a lovely rear garden (the one on 98th), can be difficult to do vegetarian as there are only a couple of choices (not sure of the fish selections they offer).

      1. re: LNG212

        Space-wise, Gazala UWS is much better.
        I went to Cafe Frida last night and made a meal out of chips, salsa, cheese enchiladas, and a rice casserole.

        1. re: LeahBaila

          Rice casserole? Hmm I don't recall that on the menu. I'll have to check it out. I do like the assortment of salsas that you can get. Do you think the menus at the 2 locations are the same? I've never checked that since I'm rarely at the 78th Street location anymore.

          1. re: LNG212

            Yep, the rice casserole was delicious! The salsa trio is awesome, just pricey. I'm not sure about the 2 menus, as I've only been to the 78th St. location. Great cheese enchiladas w/ mole sauce, btw!

        2. re: LNG212

          I'm really pretty sour on Gazala's, both locations. I used to be a big fan, but the prices have increased and the quality has seemed to drop off, especially at the uptown location.

      2. Seeing as your wife keeps kosher to some extent, and there are many kosher restos on the Upper West, why not just go for a kosher place? A repost on the kosher board might help, but my vote would be for Ladino, a bit south of the Upper West but still great.

        1. Sit down breakfast (& classic NY): Barney Greengrass.

          For a train "picnic" consider Zabar's or Salumeria Rosi.

          4 Replies
          1. re: LNG212

            I had a very good meal at Salumeria Rosi, so I'm a fan, but what would someone who keeps kosher except for vegetables and fish eat there?

            Greengrass, yes, very good recommendation.

            1. re: Pan

              <<salumeria rosi>>

              Oh good point. I totally blanked on that.

              I'll second the Kefi rec below too. We love that place.

              1. re: LNG212

                I like Kefi, too, and they have very good vegetable and fish dishes.

            2. re: LNG212

              Barney Greengrass is an excellent choice.

              Go on a weekday to avoid daunting crowds

            3. Kefi for fish, Saravanna's for vegetarian South Indian.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Alan Henderson

                2nd both.

                For the portable meal, try Epicerie Boulud and Francois Payard Bakery.

                1. re: Riverman500

                  I hated my one experience at Kefi. It was cramped, loud, and the food was not particularly good. I seem to be in the minority though, so ymmv.

                  1. re: Tubulus

                    ditto...i hated Kefi on my one visit: loud, sub-mediocre food (who shreds a Greek salad into confetti and adds sugar?? -- awful), and poor service...while i respect the experiences of veteran hounds who like it, i'm unlikely to ever return unless by some odd chance...

                    1. re: Simon

                      Third. No redeeming features to report on our single visit a few months back. No plans to return.

              2. For your take out: There is a large kosher take-away store on Broadway at about 87th; I'm blanking on the name. Zabar's at Broadway and 80th carries many kosher prepared foods. And Fisher Bros. & Leslie on 72nd just west of Broadway is a top-notch kosher butcher and sells lots to go.

                3 Replies
                1. re: alc

                  It's Kosher Marketplace and it's closer to 89th or 90th on the east side of Broadway.

                  Barney Greengrass is great! A classic. Kefi is good.

                  Basic go-to spot near you is French Roast on 85th and Broadway, which is open 24 hours. There are a couple of non-Starbucks coffee places: one on Amsterdam & 86th (Coffee, Tea, Leaf and Bean?) and another on Columbus near 85th (Joe, the Art of Coffee).

                  There is a new-ish kosher sushi/steak restaurant place near you: KO Prime on 85th east of Broadway. I don't know how good it is.

                  There are lots of vegetarian options, mostly on Amsterdam in the 80s.

                  1. re: rteplow

                    For vegetarian, Candle Cafe West is on Broadway between W 89th and W 90th. I used to live on West 85th, up the street from French Roast. I never thought the food was great, but if you're just looking for a place to have coffee and linger for a while, it's perfect. And being open 24 hours is a great virtue, of course.

                    I've never been there, but I have friends who liked Recipe on Amsterdam between 81st and 82nd.

                  2. I've been a fan of OZU on 87/Amsterdam for a long time - They are mostly veggie (salmon is on the menu too). Great veggie options - Try "Almost Perfect", it is.

                    1. Good Enough to Eat, on Amsterdam and 84th.

                      1. Penang would fit your bill. (Lunch or dinner)


                        1. Marcus Samuelsson will be opening American Table and Cafe at Alice Tully Hall Lincoln Center by the end of the month.

                          Red Farm will be moving into the space formerly occupied by Fatty Crab on 77th and Broadway some time this fall.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: H Manning

                            I used to stay with a friend on 90th and Riverside Drive and always went to Alouette. It does not fill all your quotas but it is a lovely little restaurant.

                              1. re: Tommy D.

                                Too bad, I had no idea. We enjoyed a couple of meals there in the past year; nothing exceptional, but still a pleasant experience. Sorry to see them go; it sounds as if they were pretty much forced to close. Sad.

                          2. What? No recommendations of THE place to breakfast dine -- Sarabeths?
                            Greengrass deli of course is a no-brainer.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: arepo

                              personally, i recommend avoiding Sarabeth's

                              1. re: arepo

                                I heard Sarabeth's aptly described as "Laura Ashley Food".

                                Much better is Good Enough to Eat

                                1. re: plf515

                                  I call that place "Almost Good Enough to Ear@

                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                    We always called it "Good Enough to Eat, That's It, Nothing More."

                                  2. re: plf515

                                    in addition to the mediocre food and bland vibe at Sarabeth's, there are supposedly ethical reasons to avoid the place...

                                    1. re: Simon

                                      A lesson learned but don't you think maybe you should spell out the ethical reasons so others will be aware? Isn't that what this website is all about?

                                  3. re: arepo

                                    BARNEY Greengrass is mentioned three times above.

                                    I agree with others that Sarabeth is boring and stale and has been for quite some time.

                                  4. I would skip Kefi and go to Fish Tag (also a Psilakis joint). Better food and better PQR.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: snaporaz

                                      Second the recommendation for Fish Tag. Same owners as Kefi, smaller space. Lots of fish and veggie options.

                                    2. Try Telepan around 69-70 & Columbus for fine brunches
                                      Also try La Boite en Bois for weekend brunches in the same area

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: arepo

                                        +1 on Telepan. Definitely the best brunch on the UWS, but a little pricy.
                                        Sarabeth's is a pastel bore.
                                        Good Enough to Eat is better, but lacks anything really special.
                                        For the "standard" brunch items, Popover Cafe is pretty good.
                                        Barney Greengrass is an entirely different kind of thing, but delicious.

                                      2. Gennaro's has great Italian at reasonable prices.

                                        1. OK, I guess I should make a trip report, given that we went and returned over a week ago.

                                          We arrived a Penn Station about lunchtime, we were so hungry we just got a slice of pizza at a stand on the lower level of Penn Station down by where you catch the 7th Ave. Subway. We're not taking gourmet here, slices of prebaked pizza warmed in the oven, but it wasn't bad.

                                          We spent the afternoon at the museum (looked like it was going to rain) and had "tea-time" at French Roast. My wife had an iced coffee, I had a Negroni (which was served on the rocks, something I do, but I think it's non-standard) and we shared a very good apple tart.

                                          For dinner we decided on Kefi, I can see some of the criticism that up front it's kind of loud, but they seated us downstairs, and it was fine. The service was not exceptional, but quite competent. I had the warm feta appetizer, the seared striped bass, and we shared a chocolate mousse and halva w/sesame ice cream dessert. My wife had a "chickpea eggplant and bulgur fritter" sandwich (i.e felafel), that came with a Greek salad, and her $10.95 sandwich had a lot more food than my $16.95 entree. She took some home and had it for breakfast. I also had a glass of Greek white wine as recommended by the waiter, I can't remember what it was, but I remember it was fine. Along with dessert, the waiter turned me on to a Greek digestif called "mastika," which was interesting. The salad was fine, not as weird as one of the posters mentioned, and the rest of the food was great. All in all, I'd go back.

                                          The next morning, we hit Barney Greengrass. It's not like you can't get smoked fish in Baltimore, but of course, I've heard of legend. My wife is not a smoked fish fan ,si she ahd the rest of her felafel from the night before and joined me for coffee. I had a nova and whitefish appetizer with a bagel and cream cheese. Ahh, just like the old delis I remembered from my childhood, except it was pretty expensive. We checked out the deli case before we left, it's cool that you can get hand cut lox and nova, as far as I know, all the lox and nova we get in Baltimore is pre-cut, and usually just but the sealed packages at the grocery.

                                          Lunch that day was in a hipster cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, It wasn't really lunch, we just got some coffee and pastry to keep the blood sugar stable, we spent the day walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, hitting the Broooklyn Museum, and riding the subways.

                                          We met a relative for dinner, she's on a gluten free diet, so we stuck to her recommendation, a place called Nice Matin on 79th street and Amsterdam, which has a special gluten-free menu It was a nice evening, we ate on the sidewalk, I had the Prixe fixe, including the heirloom tomato tart, the monksfish and tomato Tagine, and the Pistachio trufee. I had a glass of white wine, which again, I don't remember, it was recommended by the waiter and was a suitable pairing for my food. My wife had the salmon, which she said was excellent. My relative had the fettuchine tomate. It was quite good, and I had no complaints about the service.

                                          The next morning we grabbed a bite at Tal Bagels. Oh, I could definitely live in this neighborhood, assuming I could afford to buy or rent a place. Excellent bagel with low--fat lox spread and coffee. Here too, they hand slice the lox and nova.

                                          We knocked around midtown before our train left, we had lunch at Lazzarra's. The salad was good, and the pizza should have been good, but I think they left it in the oven too long. I guess that's a problem with thin crust pizza. It was quite the experience, though. Sure beats going to chain places.

                                          Finally, after some serious shopping at Macy's, we went to the Korean Food Court on 32nd Street and got our picnic dinner for the train. My wife got a simple fried rice with salmon, I got Bibimbop. I don't recommend bibimbop for a train picnic, as I had to mix together lots of ingredients balanced on a seatback tray table, but it was good. I had never relaized that that block of Korean eateries and markets on 32nd street existed.

                                          Al in all, a good trip to New York, I got to see some stuff I hadn't seen before, and had some good chow.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ConsApi

                                            thanks for the report...glad you had a fun trip...when you come back, i recommend exploring some of the chow further downtown...(esp Russ and Daughters for smoked fish, as well as a plethora of Italian and Spanish options you might enjoy)...

                                            Simon (Downtown Snob :)

                                            1. re: Simon

                                              As a former resident of the Upper West Side, I prefer downtown, as well, but it sounds like ConsApi and his wife had a good time. Thanks for reporting back!