The New Upper East Side: 8 Hot Spots to Visit

An influx of casual cafes and accessible fine dining is putting this neighborhood on the foodie map
January 5, 2017
by Zagat Staff

Once the land of stuffy white-tablecloth restaurants and nothing-special sports bars, the Upper East Side has experienced an influx of trendier places to dine and drink over the past few years. Here, we've rounded up some of the must-try spots in the ever-evolving neighborhood.

Café Americano: The cafe by day, bar by night is becoming a popular trend these days. For Upper East Siders looking for a casual space that still feels fun and elegant, Café Americano is your new go-to. The space opened up last fall, and is run by longtime Upper East Side residents/restaurateurs Tom and Anthony Martignetti (they are the same team behind other neighborhood favorites like The East Pole and Pizza Beach). By day, you can choose from healthy options like poached eggs with whipped ricotta and pesto, while by night, you can sip on one of the restaurant’s many spritzes over a full dinner menu, with dishes like olive-oil poached monkfish and rigatoni with broccoli rabe.

964 Lexington Ave.; 646-870-9007

Courtesy of Vaucluse

Vaucluse: The fancy-but-not-too-stuffy French brasserie by Michael White and Marea executive chef Jared Gadbaw quickly became a neighborhood institution when it opened a little over a year ago, earning praise for its old-school favorites like cassoulet and duck à l’orange for two. More recently, the restaurant started offering a bar menu, which includes all your French favorites (steak frites, tarte flambée, oysters), but with fewer white tablecloths — plus $10 drink specials. 

100 E. 63rd St.; 646-869-2300

Tavern 62 by David Burke: Longtime New York chef/restaurateur David Burke recently turned Fishtail, his seafood joint, into Tavern 62, a convivial spot serving creative takes on tavern fare (think: duck three ways, pastrami salmon and lamb carbonara). The bi-level space is enormous, but Burke has managed to make each section feel intimate, converting parts of the restaurant into a library and solarium. In true David Burke fashion, many of the dishes are cooked on slabs of Himalayan pink salt, which is said to impart a more complex flavor to food; the blocks, incidentally, are also used to decorate the walls — thankfully, these are not the same ones used for cooking.

135 E. 62nd St; 212-988-9021

Blake Lane: The Upper East Side just got its own California-inspired hot spot, with a menu overseen by Suzanna Beall and former Casa Mono chef Diego Moya that’s health-conscious but forward on flavor. You’ll find all the usual West Coast suspects — like green smoothies, kale salads and, yes, plenty of toast — but you’ll also find more creative fare like a version of bibimbop made with faro, and for dessert: squash loaf with whipped chai mascarpone.

1429 Third Ave.; 212-988-4700

Courtesy of Glen Allsop

Flora Bar: Restaurateur Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos have breathed new life into the museum cafe with Flora Bar. The restaurant, which is housed in the Met Breuer, brings much of the vibrant fare from the duo's original spot, Estela (like that endive salad, which ranks high on our favorite plates of greens in the city), plus a truly stellar selection of seafood. If you can’t make it for dinner, you can also stop by Flora Café, located just outside the main restaurant, offering an impressive lineup of pastries — like sticky buns with black cardamom and walnut shortbread — from pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz (formerly of Marlow & Sons).

945 Madison Ave.; 646-558-5383

Ziggy’s: Just in time for winter, the team behind the beloved Mexican spot, El Atoradero Brooklyn, swung open the doors to Ziggy’s, a California-drenched, fish taco–slinging Mexican seafood spot with beach-y decor and a long list of tiki drinks. The menu is very large-party friendly, with a seafood platter option that includes a tower of oysters, clams, crab, scallops and mussels, all topped with the restaurant’s signature Ziggy’s sauce (made with guajillo chile peppers). We also can’t wait to try the honey butter chicharron, which comes with a scoop of sweet and spicy horchata ice cream.

1485 2nd Ave.; 646-678-4200

EastField’s: Another great nautical, seafood-centric option in the Upper East Side is EastField’s — equally ideal for a quick catch-up with friends over peekytoe crab toast and oysters as it is for a full-on meal, complete with Heritage-lamb shawarma and truffle risotto. The menu leans heavily seasonal, but we certainly don’t mind making a meal out of the grilled cheese with housemade pickles.

1479 York Ave.; 646-964-4918

Courtesy of Kappo Masa

Kappo Masa: What would a neighborhood be without a high-end sushi institution? Kappo Masa serves more than just great sushi, though. You’ll find a wide range of Japanese cuisine here, including hibachi dishes, like Peking duck foie gras mini tacos, as well as soba, udon and a special offering called masa surimi pasta — seafood that has been playfully shaped into noodles.

976 Madison Ave.; 212-906-7141

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