The restaurants here in New York serve some of the best food in the world. With the vast number of restaurants I knew that I could not do the City’s food scene justice in one blog post so for this entry I am going to focus exclusively on those in my neighborhood, the Upper East Side. This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are the spots that Gregg and I find ourselves going back to again and again because the food is so incredibly good. So, here is my quintessential dining guide, but I’d love to hear about your Upper East Side favorites in the comments to discover a few new ones, so share away!
The Penrose. Brunch is a big deal in New York, and everyone has their favorite spot. The Penrose is my brunch spot of choice and those closest to me know it holds a special place in my heart. From its wooden interiors to exposed brick walls, it is a place without pretense. The Penrose is open from 10am-4am most days but I tend to go there for brunch since it is one of the few brunch spots that opens before noon, and I almost always order the Bacon, Egg & Oyster Sandwich.
Up Thai. I love curry so when I moved to the Upper East Side I was on the lookout for a go to Thai restaurant. I quickly fell in love with Up Thai. They serve traditional dishes such as green and red curry, and enticing signature plates like Thai crab cakes. While Up Thai is a great place for dinner, I prefer to go for lunch since they have a $9 special which includes a soup/ salad, appetizer and entree.
Yuka. I was skeptical when I read about Yuka’s $23 all you can eat sushi deal. It seemed too good to be true. However, after seeing a line of people waiting to be seated at this hole in the wall I decided to give the restaurant a chance and I am happy that I did. The space is basic but you get fresh sushi for a reasonable price and great service.
Calexico. This spot serves up the best California Mexican food selection on the Upper East Side. There’s no such thing as a bad order here, but I absolutely love the Baja fish burrito bowl and the vegetable rolled quesadilla with their crack sauce. This is my go-to spot for picking up an easy weeknight dinner or a casual night out.
Flex Mussels. If you have an affection for mussels then you must visit this place. Flex Mussels serves P.E.I. mussels in 23 sauces. My favorite variations include the Thai (curry coconut broth, lemon grass, lime and ginger), the Pesto (basil-walnut pesto, shrimp, garlic and parmesan) and the Fra Diavolo (san marzano tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and fresh basil).
Xi’an Famous Foods. Xi’an, a city in northwest China, marks the starting point of the Silk Road so its cuisine mixes Chinese and Middle Eastern flavors (i.e. cumin, chili and peppercorns). While Xi’an Famous Foods serves low cost meals, they do not sacrifice on flavor. Chopstick skills are an asset when eating at Xi’an; the food is so good, you won’t mind slurping up the delicious noodles. Be sure to grab plenty of napkins and beware, when they say “spicy”, they mean spicy.
Lexington Candy Shop. Even though New York offers many wonderful fine-dining options, sometimes you need to visit a classic, old-fashioned diner. There is something timeless about a no-frills spot where you can order everything from fluffy pancakes to tuna melts. Lexington Candy Shop has been serving diner favorites for the past 90 years, and their decor reflects this. They use a 1940 vintage Hamilton Beach milkshake maker to make their malts and milkshakes so make sure to order one!
B. Cafe. B. Cafe is more expensive than most of the other restaurants on this list, but it it is a great place for a date night. The atmosphere in this small, dimly lit restaurant encourages you to spend hours lingering over fresh steak tartare while drinking some delicious Belgian beers.