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Time Out Love New York Awards 2014: Upper East Side

A local’s guide to the Upper East Side. Here are the area’s top local stores, bars, coffee shops, music venues and restaurants.

By Time Out contributors, edited by Vivienne van Vliet
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Time Out readers have spoken, and below are the venues they named their absolute favorite in the Upper East Side. So the next time you’re in the area and in need of food, drink or retail therapy, make a beeline for these places and you won’t go far wrong.

For more great things to do in the Upper East Side check out our full Upper East Side guide.

The winners

RESTAURANT: Café D’Alsace

Restaurants French Upper East Side

The decor and chaotic bustle evoke a brasserie you might see in a Godard film. The large portions of robust, earthy food are served in overgrown vessels that barely fit on the diminutive tables. Bone marrow (la moelle), simply prepared with only sea salt and grilled toast, comes with actual bones in an earthenware crock. Bigger appetites will appreciate the choucroute garni—a sausage-bejeweled heap of cured cabbage with white wine and juniper berries. The 120-bottle-strong beer list is encyclopedic. And for those who can’t tell a port from porter, there’s a dedicated beer sommelier who can pair artisanal brews with just about anything.

Two Little Red Hens
Two Little Red Hens
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Robyn Lee

COFFEE SHOP: Two Little Red Hens

Restaurants Bakeries Upper East Side

The sweets at this bake shop are almost too pretty to eat—think rich chocolate cakes covered with elaborate icing flowers.

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STORE: Housing Works Thrift Shop

Shopping Thrift stores Lenox Hill

It's cool to donate your old duds and furniture to Housing Works, so the shelter-oriented charity's thrift stores are among the city's best. The prices aren't the lowest, but the stock is quality. If you're lucky, you can score designer pieces (in clothes and furnishings) you'd never be able to afford new. You just have to do a little rummaging.

The Penrose
The Penrose
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

BAR: The Penrose

Bars Gastropubs Upper East Side

The Upper East Side has its share of low-key gems (Torishin) and crown-jewel restaurants (Daniel), but verifiable hot spots? There are few. The idea of a hobnobbing scene in Manhattan’s stuffiest zip code seemed laughable a few years ago—as likely as an electrodisco party in Greenwich, Connecticut. But the Penrose—named for a neighborhood in Cork, Ireland, where two of the owners grew up—is finally bringing a bit of the indie-chic East Village to Gossip Girl territory. Operated by the gastropub specialists behind the Wren and Wilfie & Nell, the joint would be run-of-the-mill farther downtown, where the trifecta of reclaimed wood, craft pours and pedigreed pub grub long ago joined the ranks of food-world clichés. But it’s a welcome change up here, where the only other option in a ten-block radius is Jones Wood Foundry, and locals have responded in droves. Step inside and it’s easy to see why the handsome joint was an insta-hit—antique lights cast a golden glow over a long, curving bar in the front room, while elegant patterned wallpaper and aristocratic framed portraits decorate nooks in the back. DRINK THIS: Skip the foofy cocktails (they read better than they taste) and opt for a draft beer or a dram of the brown stuff instead. The craft-brew list ($5–$9) offers familiar, solid standards (Kelso Nut Brown) and a couple of Irish imports (Guinness Extra Stout)—fine enough drafts for a laid-back night with pals. Those looking to break out of the Guinness-at-an-Irish-bar rut can

The runners-up

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The full list of winners by category

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