Best Upper East Side restaurants
The most classically opulent of the city's rarefied restaurants, Daniel Boulud's flagship is still a big-ticket commitment of time and money, but—from the waiters who sweep up to the table like synchronized swimmers, to the whole fish filleted on an old-school cart—you won't find such lavish attention to detail without springing for a ticket to Europe.
The fish prepared at this tiny outpost of a popular L.A. sushi spot comes a la carte, or governed entirely by the chef’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.
The signature offering is a burger that invites comparisons to the revered Corner Bistro’s. Melon’s is pricier for the very basic model, but it’s arguably just as tasty. Served austerely with a few slices of red onion and pickle, these handfuls must be eaten quickly, before the juice soaks through the bottom of the bun. Several of the genial bartenders, hosts and servers (in genteel ties and sweater vests) have been greeting patrons by their first names since the pub opened in 1972.
The pedigreed duo behind Obama-fave Estela and its Soho sequel Café Altro Paradiso took over the basement level of the Upper East Side’s Met Breuer museum. Adjacent to the sleek 74-seat restaurant—sparsely decorated with midcentury-style banquettes, an expansive marble bar and large windows overlooking a private courtyard—is the team’s Flora Coffee, serving java, pastries and to-go sandwiches during daytime museum hours.
Once confined to the sad heat-lamp preserve of supermarkets, rotisserie chickens have put a little shine on their spits lately—just see the much-ballyhooed versions at joints like Lafayette, Uncle Boons and Le Coq Rico. Now, at Rotisserie Georgette, the primitive alchemy of spit roasting takes center stage in a setting more opulent than a deli case. When it comes to the bird, Rotisserie Georgette has its chickens in a row.
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.
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 am to sample an original selection of raw fish. The Sushi Seki formula: unusually flavored variants of popular sushi cuts complemented by a dollop of subtly head-turning sauce.
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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 in a space more casual than its counterparts.
Despite a menu filled with smartly conceived Northern Italian dishes, an enviable wine list and a stylish, Sicilian drawing room decor, the dominant feature of Uva is noise. Packed with Upper East Siders on first dates, Uva reverberates with energy. The menu—with main courses like ricotta gnocchi with black truffles, pork tenderloin and sea scallops wrapped in speck—deserves the kind of attention amid the din.
The sweets at this uber popular bake shop are almost too pretty to eat—think rich chocolate cakes covered with elaborate icing flowers, creamy cheesecakes and cream-filled cupcakes.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Robyn Lee