New York’s Upper East Side used to be a dining desert, with only generic diners, mediocre Asian spots and overpriced high-end eateries. Not any more: The UES has become a legitimate dining destination with great spots to suit any taste or budget. Here are our picks for the best restaurants on the Upper East Side.
View an interactive Google Maps list of the best restaurants on the Upper East Side.
1. Bohemian Spirit
The name of this Yorkville restaurant doesn’t refer to the carefree, artistic lifestyle—it’s a reference to Bohemia, the western half of the Czech Republic. Housed on the groud floor of the Bohemian National Hall, Bohemian Spirit serves Czech staples like goulash and dumplings, smažený sýr (fried cheese) and luscious svestkove knedliky (fruit dumplings) that are so authentic your taste buds will think you’re back in Prague.
But the real reason to come here is something Czechs have excelled at for centuries: beer. Bohemian Spirit offers Krušovice Imperial, Bernard Cerne (dark) and Pilsner Urquell, all on tap.
321 E 73rd St.
2. Café Sabarsky
Dining at Café Sabarsky, located on the ground floor of the Neue Galerie, is like stepping into a turn-of-the-centuy Viennese coffee house, with marble tabletops, Adolf Loos chairs and Austrian newspapers hanging on sticks. And plenty of Mitteleuropean mainstays, such as goulash, schnitzel, apple strudel, and, of course, the legendary Sachertorte.
1048 Fifth Ave.
The flagship in super-chef Daniel Boulud’s culinary armada, this eponymous eatery is the epitome of haute cuisine and service-industry elegance in New York. The French fare that comes out of the kitchen—rabbit terrine, foie gras, broiled squab—is precious, but not for preciousness’ sake. Boulud knows how to coax flavor out of every ingredient.
60 E 65th St.
4. Donohue’s Steak House
This isn’t your typical steakhouse—Donohue’s servesclassic fare in a casual, lived-in environment. Sit at the bar with the old-school clientele and sip a martini while noshing on a jumbo shrimp cocktail. Or tuck into something meatier, from prime sirloin to an above-average burgers. This is New York at its most amusing
845 Lexington Ave.
5. Earl’s Beer and Cheese
A touch of irony on the Upper East, Earl’s feels more like like a hipster haven in Bushwick or the Lower East Side. This diminutive spot is beacon for gooey cheesy goodness, with an impressive array of craft beers and intriguing munchies, like pork-fat edamame, goat-chese mac ‘n’ cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich packed with pork and kim chi.
1259 Park Ave.
6. The East Pole
A bit of downtown, uptown, the East Pole does modern American fare with true flair. Think ricotta gnocchi, chilled avocado soup and a great bacon cheeseburger served with duck-fat fries. Plus, their array of signature cocktails changes with the season.
133 E 65th St.
7. Flora Bar
Ignacio Mattos achieved great acclaim—and a visit from the Obamas—at Estela, his perpetually buzzing NoLIta restaurant. Now he’s brought some culinary pizzazz to the Upper East Side. Buried in the basement of the brutalist Met Breuer, Flora has a menu that’s more substantial than most museum cafés, with standouts like foie gras and chicken-liver pâté with endive marmalade and lobster-and-crab dumplings in a yuzu broth. Chef Mattos expertly layers flavors so the taste strata goes deep.
945 Madison Ave.
8. J.G. Melon
While the menu at this Upper East institution includes turkey sandwiches, chili, grilled cheese and salads, the real reason to come to J.G. Melon are the hamburgers. They’ve been flipping patties since 1972, and their juicy burgers—coated in American cheese, with pickles and raw onions on the side—have become a thing of legend.
Bring some cash, though: Credit cards aren’t accepted.
480 Amsterdam Ave.
With its exposed brick wall, farmhouse tables and chandeliers, this Italian beauty is fine place to linger over a long evening meal. Start out with a bowl of asparagus soup, then move onto the cavatelli pasta with duck sausage, and then chicken al mattone. Fired under a brick, this is poultry that just explodes with flavor.
1402 Lexington Ave.
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