It’s no surprise that the Upper East Side is home to some of the city’s swankiest eateries, but east of the Gold Coast, there are plenty of spots catering to nonmillionaires. Our restaurant guide includes some of the city’s best French restaurants and one of NYC’s best sushi restaurants. And don’t overlook museum eats.
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Upper East Side restaurants
Even in the worst of times, a world-class city needs restaurants offering the escape of over-the-top coddling and luxurious food, with a star chef who's not just on the awning but in the kitchen and dining room, too-—in short, a place like Daniel. The most classically opulent of the city's rarefied restaurants, Daniel Boulud's 15-year-old flagship emerged from a face-lift last fall, looking about as youthful as a restaurant in a landmark Park Avenue building realistically can. The sprawling dining room no longer resembles the doge's palace in Venice. Instead it's been brought into the 21st century with white walls, contemporary wrought iron sconces and a centerpiece bookshelf lined with vibrant crystal vases among other curios. The redesign, by longtime Boulud collaborator Adam Tihany, couldn't have come at a better time. With even neighborhood regulars keeping an eye on their budgets, now more than ever the place needs to cultivate a new clientele. Despite Boulud's ever-expanding reach—he'll soon launch his tenth restaurant, on the Bowery—the chef still prowls the dining room here most nights, charming fans and sending extras to his special guests. While the setting has been revamped, the food—overseen since 2004 by executive chef Jean Franois Bruel—hasn't taken a radical turn. Still, presentations overall seemed much more up-to-date. The tiered silver tower cradling an overkill of miniature bites that used to kick off a meal has given way to a less-is-more amuse-bouche on aRead more
At this cheery, kitschy East Side family spot, sandwiches, salads and burgers merely set you up for the main course: dessert. The trademarked Frrrozen Hot Chocolate—a brain-freezing chocolate slushie—deserves its reputation; the massive beast should be shared. Given the size of the Coward’s Portion of the Outrageous Banana Split, we’re guessing the full-size version comes in a trough.Read more
The only menu you’ll find here is for drinks. The fish prepared at this tiny outpost of a popular L.A. sushi spot is governed entirely by chef Kenji Takahashi’s whim. There’s nothing to fear (except maybe the wasabi—they use the much spicier real stuff): Sasabune’s omakase is culled from Takahashi’s daily New Fulton Fish Market finds. He and his team dole out raw numbers, from favorites like salmon and yellowtail to more exotic sea creatures, including bonito in a spicy-sweet homemade soy sauce and a black cod in an eel sauce you’ll want mop up with your fingers.Read more
Venue says: BRUNCH SPECIAL!!! 20% off the final bill when you come for brunch with 4 or more people. Mention Time-Out to apply discount.
New York’s endless hustle can lead a diner to want a restaurant retreat—a relaxing venue where you can enjoy a simple meal and a break from the outside world. Fatty Fish, located on the Upper East Side, is certainly one of those places. Its spa-like atmosphere washes over you upon entering, with dim lights, warm woods, and comfortable seating (a growing rarity in New York’s dining scene) waiting to usher you into your meal. An eclectic menu overseen by chef-owner Roy Lamberty touts East-meets-West creations like a sushi pizza starter ($14), which reads, deceptively, like a menu gimmick to avoid. Don't. Impeccably fresh tuna comes layered over a crunchy, greasless wonton-based crust, all slicked with three sauces (eel, spicy mayo and mango) applied in precise amounts. It’s hard to stop eating it. A plate of lemongrass chicken dumplings ($6) proved serviceable, its vinegar dipping sauce cutting through the rich filling. Recent specials included soft shell crabs sautéed and served with spinach edamame risotto and black garlic sauce ($22). The edamame added lovely texture to the toothsome risotto and provided the perfect place for the savory crustaceans to rest. A salmon bento box ($21) found the prized fish slightly overcooked, but an addictive side of shumai nearly made up for the misstep. Here, the garden-variety bento-box salad boasts the ideal dollop of ginger-carrot dressing—smooth, sparse (no overdressing here), and never cloying. On the drinks front, find a well-curatedRead more
Paris’s haute house of macarons brings its delicate pastries stateside with this charming Upper East Side shop. You’ll find all the signature flavors, such as caramel, framboise and praline, plus New York–exclusive cinnamon-raisin. The precious decor—including antique upholstered chairs, bronze sconces and vintage-style wallpaper—pays tribute to the original, 149-year-old patisserie.Read more
The onetime East Village institution, now located in Murray Hill, brings its chopped liver, corned beef and pastrami to the Upper East Side. Brothers Josh and Jeremy Lebewohl, the founder's nephews, stay true to the original with the same menu of Jewish standards at this 70-seat location.Read more
Considered by many vegans to be among the best meat-free restaurants in Manhattan, this welcoming restaurant (which has both Upper East and Upper West Side locations) serves healthy, fresh and surprising dishes prepared by a kosher kitchen. For an appetizer, the indulgent nachos—piled high with guacamole, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, tapioca cheese and grilled seitan—are a must order, while entrées a curried vegetable cake that’s aromatic with cumin and turmeric.Read more
For the best fix for a late-night sushi jones, you’ll need to go east…Far East. No matter: locals, sushi snobs and off-duty chefs alike crawl in to this completely conventional façade on First Ave until 2:30 a.m. to sample an original selection of raw fish. The Sushi Seki formula: unusually flavored variants of popular sushi cuts (milky king salmon, medium-fat tuna, chopped and deep-fried egg) complemented by a dollop of subtly head-turning sauce (jalapeño atop yellowtail, an oniony tofu sauce above leaner tuna, sesame oil bathing snow crab). Although Seki peddles the sushi standards, too, it’s sushi omakase, starting at $50, which keeps the cabbies idling outside. Piece-by-piece, it’s a fun ride that justifies the off-the-track location and steep prices.Read more