Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Ed's Upper West Side
Editor's note: We write about restaurants all over the city. But sometimes, you don't want to travel for food; you want the best eats right in your neighborhood. Over the next few weeks, we'll have the Serious Eats staff share where they eat around their own 'hoods. First up? Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine!
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The Upper West Side may not be Manhattan's liveliest food neighborhood, but it's one where I'm quite happy to live and eat (and have been for decades).
My eating 'hood stretches from the high 60s to the high 70s on the west side, with a few outliars thrown in 'cause they're good enough to travel for. So come meet my neighborhood go-tos, from burgers and pizza to cheap eats and special occasion fare.
Slice of Pizza: T&R Pizza Inc
T&R's a great place to get a solid classic slice; if you're ordering a whole pie, ask for it well-done.
Coal-Oven Pizza: Patsy's
Yes, it's a mini-chain, but the margherita here is a very solid pie.
Pan Pizza: Dean's
I'm also a fan of Dean's for square slices. It's part of the impossible-to-get-straight pizza empire of Nick Angelis and his extended family, which includes Nick's, Angelo's, Dean's, and Adrienne's on Old Stone Street.
Cheap Burger: Shake Shack and Fairway Cafe
For grab-and-go burgers, it's all about Shake Shack (I ask for my Shack burger rare, and more often than not, that's how it comes). Skip the fries. For something just a little bigger, the meatier Fairway Cafe burger is made on a griddle, and comes with great, fresh French fries.
Fancy Burger: Telepan
Telepan's burger is made with grass-fed beef, but it still manages to be really juicy and beefy. Plus, the fries and the onion rings the burger comes with are both excellent. The weekend brunch menu features a New York menu rarity, a dressed-up patty melt.
Sandwiches: Epicerie Boulud, Grandaisy
At Epicerie Boulud, the tuna sandwich is killer, so are the Cubano and the plebian-sounding club sandwich and ham and cheese sandwich, which comes on a house-baked baguette with just the right amount of house-cured ham, Gruyere, and butter. The Grandaisy sandwiches are downright dainty, but what they lack in heft is more than made up for in flavor.
Neighborhood classic: Barney Greengrass
Breakfast at Barney Greengrass is both a rite of passage and an essential, quintessentially New York eating experience. A plate of sturgeon, scrambled eggs, and onions is an incredibly ugly plate of food that tastes like heaven. The salty, meaty, firm-fleshed sturgeon, the creamy scrambled eggs, and the softened onions from an unbeatable combination that can only be had here. What completes the experience? Your gruff, constantly kibitzing waiter.
Baked Goods: Epicerie Boulud, Citarella
I love Epicerie Boulud for French classics and, believe it or not, upstairs at grocery store Citarella for rich chocolate and mocha-flavored cakes and fine cupcakes.
Brunch: Telepan, Ouest, Fairway Cafe
Telepan and Ouest are both pricey, but get you a beautiful brunch with a phenomenal bread basket—I'm a sucker for brunch bread baskets. For a more casual brunch head to Fairway Cafe, and get the pancakes or the hash.
Telepan: 72 West 69th Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-580-4300; telepan-ny.com; Ouest: 2313 Broadway, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-580-8700; ouestny.com ; Fairway Cafe: 2127 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-1888; fairwaymarket.com
Special Occasion: Boulud Sud, Telepan, Ouest
Boulud Sud is Daniel Boulud's surprising and fresh take on pan-Mediterranean food, of a high enough quality to feel like an occasion but not as formal as some of Boulud's other establishments.
Telepan is eminently civilized, the tables well-spaced, and because you can go for the small, medium, or the large plates here, even a special occasion doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Boulud Sud: 20 West 64th Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-1313; danielnyc.com/boulud_sud ; Telepan: 72 West 69th Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-580-4300; telepan-ny.com; Ouest: 2313 Broadway, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-580-8700; ouestny.com
Cheap Eats: Gray's Papaya, Grandaisy Bakery
A slice of focaccia-like pizza bianca or pizza con pecorino at Grandaisy is the best cheap lunch in the neighborhood. Classic hotdoggery Gray's Papaya is a meatier, more expensive, but still cheap alternative. The recession special is up to $4.95, I think, but it's still a bargain: two hot dogs and a drink.
Food Shopping: Citarella, Fairway
Fairway is where I go for staples, cheese, and olive oil; Citarella has very good meat, a fish counter that somehow isn't quite as good as it should be, but produce that is consistently better than Fairway's.
Farmers' Markets: Lincoln Square, Columbus Greenmarkets
At Lincoln Square market on Thursdays and Saturdays, I'm partial to Locust Grove Farms' apples, pears, and grapes, and Stokes herbs and tomatoes. At Columbus and 77th on Sundays I love Berried Treasure's berries, tomatoes, and potatoes, chicken and eggs from Feather Ridge Farms, and Terhune Orchard apples.
Bread: Grandaisy, Epicerie Boulud
At Grandaisy, I love the pizza bianco, the pizza con Romano, the strirata, and their Pullman-like loaf; at Epicerie Boulud, Daniel Boulud empire head baker Mark Fiorentino is one of NY's unsung bread heroes.
Ice Cream and Gelato: Grom, Shake Shack, Epicerie Boulud
Grom for superb (if pricey) classic gelato; Shake Shack for frozen custard (I'm a sucker for vanilla with their topping of the day); Epicerie Boulud for beautifully made and full-flavored ice cream.
Grom: 2165 Broadway, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-362-1837; grom.it; Shake Shack: 366 Columbus Ave, New York NY 10024 (map); 646-747-8770; shakeshack.com; Epicerie Boulud: 1900 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-9606; danielnyc.com/epicerie;
Chinese: Grand Sichuan
With the arrival of Grand Sichuan on Amsterdam, the Upper West Side finally has a Chinese restaurant worth talking about.
Japanese: Momoya and Sushi Gari
Momoya for solid neighborhood Japanese like moist chicken teriyaki with crisp skin; Sushi Gari for wallet-busting sushi (that's nonetheless worth the price).
Thai: Land Real Thai Food
Upscale Thai by a serious chef; it's not as boldly spiced as some would like, but the flavors are clean and focused.
Indian: Saravanaa Bhavan
For vegetarian food and dosas.
Falafel: Soomsoom, Maoz, Hummus Place
Soomsoom and Maoz both have fine falafel and extensive salad bar choices, and though the hummus at Hummus Place is delicious, the falafel there might be better. (Note: If you want a falafel sandwich at Hummus Place, build your own out of a falafel appetizer and a warm pita).
Soomsoom Vegetairian Bar: 166 West 72nd Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-712-2525; mysoomsoom.com; Maoz: 2047 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-362-2622; maozusa.com; Hummus Place: 305 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-799-3335; hummusplace.com
Chocolate Chip Cookies: Levain, Jacques Torres
People love Levain for their boulder-sized, indecently doughy chocolate chip cookies; if you like something thinner and crisper, but still a bit chewy, opt for Jacques Torres.
Hot Chocolate: Jacques Torres, Grom
Jacques Torres is justifiably famous for his hot chocolate, but Grom should be as well. Plus, there's even a place to sit down and sip your hot chocolate at Grom.
Italian Meats, Cheeses, and Small Plates: Salumeria Rosi
Cesare Casella does wondrous things with vegetables, beans, cheese, and salumi at this tiny spot that's remarkably laid back at lunch (if not so at dinner). On Thursdays, according to Casella, the buffalo mozzarella arrives straight from Italy.