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cheap, casual on the UES?

my little chowpup has started school on the upper east side, and i really don't know the area. i'd love your suggestions for casual fare--good coffee, pastries, breakfast sandwiches to grab after we drop her off; casual, child friendly places for a bite after school; ice cream/gelato better than the soulless stuff we already got at ciao bella on day one.

prefer good price to quality ratio; it doesn't have to be cheap, but it should be worth the $/calories. good vegetarian options preferred (but not necessary for all of us). geographic parameters around 86-103rd, lexington to the park.

thanks so much in advance!

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  1. I like Yura on Madison for sandwiches and pies.

    2 Replies
    1. re: H Manning

      That looks lovely, thanks. And it seems to be related to Square Meal, which I remember MMRuth recommending years back. But alas, it's also close to Ciao Bella, and I imagine my little pea will feel tempted...

      Going through old threads, I'm adding ABV and Judi's to the list: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831584

      I also imagine that we'll head up to my kiddo's all time favorite restaurant, Moustache, a fair amount. Pizza, hummus, and an open kitchen area where you can watch pizza making in action. What more could a little kid want?

      1. re: rose water

        Judi's is kind of spotty, FYI. Sometimes the food is decent, sometimes it's just this side of edible. Of course you ought to take my word with a grain of salt since I am a regular at the no-atmosphere Falafel Express on Madison and 97th for their decent shawarma and a cheese baklava that sort of resembles my favorite Arab dessert (knafeh).

        Other places I'd consider checking out: El Aguila (tacos), Gong (Thai), Pio Pio (Peruvian chicken), Cafe Sabarsky (coffee and pastries), London Candies (English candy, pastry, Stumptown coffee), Milk Burger (Shake Shack knockoff with better sides), Lechonera El Barrio (a Judy's with better choices), Two Little Red Hens (red velvet cake).

    2. The Corner Bakery has a bread pudding-French Toast that is amazing!

      1. Le Pain Quotidien (88th & Lex, 84th & Madison) restaurants in the nabe are always full of chow pups with parental units. Good vegetarian choices too.

        1. I second Yura and Corner Bakery. A great place for desserts, although really price, is Lady M on 78th. My favorite pizza in the area is Rizzo's. There is a new Italian place that opened recently on 91st and Madison - GIna La Fornarina - that has been very popular with kids, I haven't been there yet though. Tre Otto on 97 and Madison is very good and not too expensive.

          1. For vegetarian options, Maoz has a new-ish stand in Central Park on 5th Ave and 106th (though I'm not sure if it'll be open year-round). Brick Lane Curry looks like it's opening soon on 3rd Ave and 93rd.

            For pastries, I second the recommendation for Two Little Red Hens! There's also Plenty. Sadly I don't know of any other ice cream shops in the area aside from the even-more-soulless Baskin Robbins. London Candy Co. has interesting British-themed ice cream made by Je & Jo but it comes pre-packed in tiny cups (for $5 each). Maybe Shake Shack? I ran into the Coolhaus truck in front of the Met once, but it isn't one of their regular spots.

            1 Reply
            1. re: el Mitch

              You remind me that there are usually good pretzels in front of the Met too.

              Thanks, all, for the very informative recommendations.

            2. OK Falafel House (not confident, I guess) by 92nd and 2nd on the east side of the street. Just a couple of tables, but decent Mid-Eastern fixins' (I think the owner is from Morocco, but he never wants to offer something from his own country, not that a tagine is portable-friendly...)

              1 Reply
              1. re: BuildingMyBento

                This is an intriguing rec, since I find Middle Eastern to be severely lacking on the UES. Is it a standard falafel joint or do they have anything more interesting?

                1. re: AubWah

                  Downhill alert for Wa Jeal! Totally new waitstaff, new Chef (new Owner too?) and they are dumbing down the ma la big time.

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      In the past three weeks. I went twice for lunch and also got take-out each time. Spice levels toned down considerably, even after asking it for extra ma-la. Green bell peppers now appearing in the Kung Pao Chicken. A new waiter was also charging for tea until the matter was brought to their attention.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        I had not been in that time, that sucks. Especially since they knew me and always ratcheted things up ma la wise. I will go in to corroborate this week.

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          I missed the gregarious Chinese waiter!

                    2. re: scoopG

                      Damn. Thrilled (i am seriously Chinese food deprived) then hopes dashed one second later. Is there anything passable in the current Wa Jeal iteration, scoopG and others?

                      1. re: rose water

                        Try the Szechuan Gourmet outpost on Second Avenue - between 72nd and 73rd. They have taken over the old Szechuan Chalet that was previously there.

                        1. re: scoopG

                          I was never always thrilled with Chalet, is the Gourmet outpost better?

                          1. re: MVNYC

                            Yes - they have the full SG menu. (Chalet only had a few Sichuan items among the Americanized fare.)

                            1. re: scoopG

                              I've been to the Szechuan Gourmet a few times - its really good - far better than anything else I've had in this neighborhood. Also, I never dined in at Wa Jeal but there is a waiter at SG who I would definitely describe as gregarious - I'm wondering if he's moved down the street.

                  1. Bump because I've been traveling all winter and so many places come and go.

                    Anything new, casual and noteworthy on the UES?