Monday, May 2, 2011

New York City Dining, fine and otherwise

Like all Manhattanites, I have a tiny kitchen.  With some custom refinements, I have turned it into a decent working space and love to cook when time and focus allow.  Also like all Manhattanites, we can gratefully choose from infinite choices for dining out, and we make it our business to try as many of those choices as possible.  Special places, cheap places, and all sorts in between, we are experts in dining on what is known as the Upper West Side  (UWS).  How do we do it without breaking the bank? We find deals through aggregating sites, such as Blackboard Eats and, which come in handy for saving $$.  All of the restaurants who participate in these sites welcome our business, and we have never been treated as anything but welcome when presenting our discount coupon.

The restaurants listed below are largely on the upper west side of Manhattan (W. 59th St. - W 125th St.), broken down by price range, and several of them have appeared on Blackboard Eats or  I am also including a short list from the theater district since just about everyone is baffled about where to eat in that area without spending a load of dough.  Take a look, and then take a try!  Let us know what you think.

Cheap enough:
Amsterdam Ale House: 340 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th St. - good wings, burgers, full bar, etc.
Cafe at Fairway (v. good for breakfast/brunch/lunch) -- on Broadway and 74th St. in the upstairs of the grocery store.  Kind of a cool setting, and a great place for Brunch. Becomes a steakhouse at dinner -- low key and comfortable.
Gray’s Papaya - if you're willing to eat hot dogs, these are famed to be the best in NYC and they're on Broadway and 72nd St.!  Wait till you see the biz they do.
Shake Shack - The best deal in NY, and there are branches all over.  We go to Columbus and 78th St., but there’s one in the theater district, too. Great burgers; be prepared to wait in line, and during the day there are often kids here.  Evenings are fine.
Dinosaur BBQ - 700 W. 125th St. at 12th Ave. - Cheap, good barbecue but uptown quite a bit.  It is near Columbia University, if that’s useful.  Very popular, and near the #1 train, so be adventurous and go!

Medium prices:
Riposo 72  - W. 72nd between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves. - a favorite wine bar of Clay's and mine with good, fresh food, tho the wine list has gone downhill.
The Tangled Vine - Amsterdam and W. 81st Street - wine bar with exceptional food.  Better wine list than Riposo (above) and much better food.
Landmarc - Columbus Circle -- great food (fantastic steak salad) and bar, but weird, albeit convenient, location.  It's in the Time Warner Center which is a shopping mall, but it's a reliable place for steaks and salad.  Good breakfasts, too.  Only reliable and reasonable place near Lincoln Center.
Josie's - Amsterdam and 73rd St.  Really good food; reliably fresh and healthy.
Citrus - Amsterdam and 75th St. -- Festive atmosphere (try the pineapple-infused tequila!), always yummy food - same owners as Josie’s.
Accademia di Vino - 2427 Broadway at 89th St.  - good, lighter Italian food.  Pricey, but reliably yummy.  There’s one on the east side, too -- these places are always busy so reservations are recommended
Penang - Malaysian - 127 W. 72nd between Amsterdam and Columbus.  Really yummy and quite reasonable.
Amber - Columbus and W. 70th St.  - Fantastic and reasonable sushi, as well as other Asian food.  This is a real find -- quality and price-wise.
Five Napkin Burger - Broadway and W. 84h St. - Exactly what it sounds like.  Great burgers - -big -- and a lively atmosphere.
Kefi -  Greek - EXCELLENT! but very busy.  Columbus and 84th - try to get a reservation unless you go early.  Will not disappoint.
Luke’s Lobster - Amsterdam around 80th St. Really great lobster rolls at reasonable prices.  It’s a hole in the wall, but they deliver, too!

Expensive but, oh, so special: (all require reservations; many on Open Table)
Ouest (pronounced "West") -- our favorite in the neighborhood - Broadway and 84th.  We love to go there for special occasions.  Great, hearty food, with very ample portions (and drinks -- try their cosmopolitans!).
‘Cesca (pronounced “Chesca”) - W. 75th St. just east of Amsterdam -- a personal favorite for eating at the bar (no reservations required to eat in the bar area).  Just charming, and the food is terrific.  Excellent and extensive wine list.  Same owners as Accademia di Vino (see above), but you pay for warmer atmosphere at Cesca.  Food is equally good at the two places.  If money matters, go to Accademia.
Telepan - Columbus and 69th St. - romantic, and delicious, fresh food; they pride themselves on local, which is great in three seasons out of four in NY!
Fatty Crab - 2170 Broadway, between 76-77; Hip, of the moment, interesting food.  Very loud and, I think, overpriced, but if you want to go somewhere that’s considered cool and the food is interesting and will not disappoint, this place will do it.
The Mermaid Inn - 568 Amsterdam Ave., between 87-88 -- Seafood, obviously, really fun, nice place.
Atlantic Grill - 49 W. 64th St., just east of Broadway.  Pricey fish place, but has the benefit of being very convenient to Lincoln Center.  Great service and excellent food, but you’ll pay for it.
Red Rooster - 310 Lenox Ave., between 125-126th St., This place is steps from the subway (#2 or #3 trains).  The hottest place in town right now and for good reason. The food and drinks are fantastic, and the atmosphere is really fun and exciting.  There’s a fabulous vibe at this place, and the food does not disappoint.

And just a few in the theater district:
Island Burgers and Shakes  -- 766 9th Ave. and 51st St.  Just what it says -- really good, cheap, tiny.
Gallo Nero - Italian - 402 W. 44th between 9th and 10th Aves.  Tiny place, but really yummy food.
Bali Nusa Indah - 652 9th Ave., between 45th-46th  Indonesian; delicious and cheap.  A real find in the theater district if you don’t want something ordinary.
Five Napkin Burger  - see above; there’s one on 9th Ave. at about 49th St. that can be very convenient before or after theater.
Elsewhere - 10th Ave. at 43rd ST. Great place for pre-theater, and you can make a meal out of the appetizers.

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