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Upper East Side Restaurant Chatter (and more)

I’ve lived on the Upper East Side / Yorkville / East 80s for the past year (84th and 1st to be exact) and have come to rely on a number of quality, moderately priced restaurants. I’ll list what I’m partial to below. I’d be interested on any suggestions for branching out. I unfortunately don’t have the scratch to go out to higher-end places with any frequency (and when I do, I head downtown). Also, most days I'm a vegetarian, unless I can find really quality meat, preferably locally sourced. Without further ado:

Taco Taco (2nd Ave., b/w 89th and 90th) – My go-to Mexican food in the area, though prices have been creeping upwards and I could use a lower-priced mexican option for take-out. If you haven’t tried the horchata fresca natural, then do yourself a favor next time and order it. The roasted poblano tamales are also a (cheap) treat.

Wu Liang Ye (86th, b/w 3rd and 2nd aves) – My go-to Chinese, though again not as cheap as I would like and I’ve come to realize that typical NYC Chinese cuisine isn’t particularly kind to vegetarians.

Green Kitchen (77th and 1st) – The best diner in the area in terms of food, service, price, and cleanliness.

The Mansion (86th and York) – Another quality diner, and it has the virtue of being very close to me.

Good Health (1st Ave., b/w 74th and 75th) – I order from this place a ton. Consistently good, healthy, tasty food at reasonable prices.

Candle Café (3rd Ave., b/w 74th and 75th) – A little more pricey, but good veggie options nonetheless.

Beyoglu (3rd ave., b/w 80th and 81st) – Love this place for a quality sit-down meal with friends. Wish they would start delivering.

Chennai (1st Ave., b/w 86th and 87th)– Southern Indian and delicious, though sometimes inconsistent quality. I would like to explore other Indian options in the area, but don’t see anything that’s appealing.

Spice (2nd Ave., b/w 73th and 74th) – Not great, but served as my go-to Thai along with Sala Thai…until I found out about…

Land (2nd Ave b/w 81st and 82nd) – Really like the food here. Never too greasy, always tasty, reasonably priced, and the décor is nice when you eat in.

Healthalicious (2nd Ave., b/w 83rd and 84th) – Wish they had more veggie options, but the grilled vegetable sandwich does a pretty solid job.

Sushi Suki (York, b/w 83rd and 84th) – Thought this was the best sushi place, though I’ve never been blown away. Any other recs?

M. Rohrs (86th, b/w 1st and 2nd Ave.) – I work from home, but sometimes need a place to sit for coffee. I actually don’t like this place that much (really weird decorations, signs, and just all-around incongruous), but it can be a good retreat from time to time.

Emack & Bolio’s (1st Ave., b/w 81st and 82nd) – go-to neighborhood ice cream place.

Still waiting to try: Cipolla Rossa, Sfoglia, Itzocan Bistro

I should also mention that I’ve seen a few new places open up recently:

Two Boots (84th and 2nd) – Have always loved Two Boots and am now glad to have it in the neighborhood, though I could use another pizza place for when I’m not craving Two Boots (sorry, Pintaile’s doesn’t do it for me).

Giana’s Coffee Shop (1st Ave, b/w 82nd and 83rd) – This new slender coffee shop is great. Excellent coffee, and latte art if you’re into that sort of thing. The small euro sized sandwiches look pretty good too. They are just introducing wifi and the benches are comfy enough to work from your computer for an hour or so.

Hummus Kitchen (2nd Ave, b/w 83rd and 84th) – Another solid addition, filling in an under-represented cuisine in the area.

Unknown Name Creperie (York Ave. b/w 83rd and 84th) – Next door to that hell-hole of a bar (Saloon’s). Had one of their crepes, which was good, but not filling enough, especially for the price. Will have to come back for a Panini.

The Big Cheese (1st Ave., b/w 81st and 82nd I think) – This new cheese shop is awesome and I hope it survives. They know their stuff and stock excellent cheeses for any palette.

As for buying groceries, the neighborhood has turned me into a FreshDirect guy (sorry Gristedes and Food Emporium). I do use some shops though, like Ottomanelli’s Deli (makes me want to eat more meat), Nature’s Gifts (cheap fruit and veggies that are always on the verge of spoiling), and U Don’t Know Nothing Produce (if I need something in a pinch). Better food market suggestions would be appreciated (Agata and Valentina?).

I could also use a go-to beer bar. Right now, it is Ryan’s Daughter. I also like the occasional trip to Brandy’s Piano Bar. But there has to be some better spots that aren’t frat party parodies.

And finally, my General Rule of Thumb for the UES: when in doubt, trust the places on the streets; avoid the places on the avenues.

Anything I'm missing??

May 13, 2009
lbirds in Manhattan