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 whole pie. [Photo: Ed Levine]

T&R's a great place to get a solid classic slice; if you're ordering a whole pie, ask for it well-done.

T&R Pizza Inc: 411 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-787-4093; tandrpizza.com

Coal-Oven Pizza: Patsy's

Yes, it's a mini-chain, but the margherita here is a very solid pie.

Patsy's: 61 West 74th Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-579-3000; ‪patsyspizzeriany.com‬‎

Pan Pizza: Dean's

Dean's whole pie. [Photo: Ed Levine]

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.

Dean's: 215 West 85th Street , New York NY 10024 (map); 212-875-1100; deansnyc.com

Cheap Burger: Shake Shack and Fairway Cafe

Burger at Fairway Cafe. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

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.

Shake Shack: 366 Columbus Ave, New York NY 10024 (map); 646-747-8770; sh‪akeshack.com‬‎; Fairway Cafe: 2127 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-1888; fairwaymarket.com

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.

Telepan: 72 West 69th Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-580-4300; telepan-ny.com

Sandwiches: Epicerie Boulud, Grandaisy

Classic Club ($9.50)

Club sandwich at Epicerie Boulud. [Photo: Jessica Leibowitz]

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.

Epicerie Boulud: 1900 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-9606; danielnyc.com/epicerie; Grandaisy: 176 West 72nd Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-334-9435; grandaisybakery.com

Neighborhood classic: Barney Greengrass

Smoked sturgeon at Barney Greengrass. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

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.

Barney Greengrass: 541 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-724-4707; barneygreengrass.com

Baked Goods: Epicerie Boulud, Citarella

Gateau Basque ($4.50)

Gateau Basque at Epicerie Boulud. [Photo: Shell Tu]

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.

Epicerie Boulud: 1900 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-9606; danielnyc.com/epicerie; Citarella: 2135 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-874-0383; citarella.com

Brunch: Telepan, Ouest, Fairway Cafe

Pancakes at Fairway Cafe. [Photo: Kathy YL Chan]

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

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

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.

Gray's Papaya: 2090 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-799-0243; URL.com; Grandaisy: 176 West 72nd Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-334-9435; grandaisybakery.com

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.

Citarella: 2135 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-874-0383; citarella.com; Fairway: 2127 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-1888; fairwaymarket.com

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.

Epicerie Boulud: 1900 Broadway, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-595-9606; danielnyc.com/epicerie; Grandaisy: 176 West 72nd Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-334-9435; grandaisybakery.com

Ice Cream and Gelato: Grom, Shake Shack, Epicerie Boulud

Lumberjack "concrete" at Shake Shack UWS. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

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

Beef Chow Fun ($6.95)

Beef Chow Fun at Grand Sichuan. [Photo: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

With the arrival of Grand Sichuan on Amsterdam, the Upper West Side finally has a Chinese restaurant worth talking about.

Grand Sichuan: 307 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-580-0277; grandsichuan.com

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).

Momoya: 427 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-580-0007; themomoya.com; Sushi Gari: 123 Address Street, New York NY 10001 (map); 212-xxx-xxxx; URL.com

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.

Land Real Thai Food: 450 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-501-8121; landthaikitchen.com

Indian: Saravanaa Bhavan

For vegetarian food and dosas.

Saravanaa Bhavan: 413 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-221-7755; saravanabhavan.com

Falafel: Soomsoom, Maoz, Hummus Place

Maoz

Falafel at Maoz. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

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

Levain

Levain's chocolate chip cookie. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

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.

Levain: 167 West 74th Street, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-874-6080; levainbakery.com; Jacques Torres: 285 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-787-3256; mrchocolate.com

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.

Jacques Torres: 285 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-787-3256; mrchocolate.com; Grom: 2165 Broadway, New York NY 10024 (map); 212-362-1837; grom.it

Italian Meats, Cheeses, and Small Plates: Salumeria Rosi

[Photo: Robyn Lee]

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.

Salumeria Rosi: 283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10023 (map); 212-877-4801; salumeriarosi.com

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