The New Upper East Side: 11 Hot Spots to Visit

By Anna Hyclak
March 10, 2014
By Anna Hyclak  |  March 10, 2014

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. Even The Fat Radish, the ultimate in LES cool, has opened a restaurant uptown, and the Negronis at The Gilroy and upscale doughnuts at Dough Loco have proven exciting enough to get Downtowners on the 6 train. Here, we've rounded up some of the must-try spots of this new dining scene.

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Dough Loco: Over the past few years, Chef Corey Cova (ABV, Earl’s Beer & Cheese) has been revolutionizing the UES dining scene, one hip eatery at a time. Now, in addition to his pop-up, gonzo Flock Dinners, he owns and operates Dough Loco, making rich, brightly-colored doughnuts in flavors like raspberry sriracha, maple miso and blood orange (plus Blue Bottle coffee to wash them down). 1261 Park Ave.;  212-876-1980

ABV: One of the more happening scenes in the area, this trendy wine bar attracts the after-work crowd with happy hour and keeps them hanging out until closing time with its fun atmosphere and inventive food menu, which includes dishes like foie gras mousse, Korean rice cakes and “super fries” loaded with caramelized onions and cheddar bechamel. 1504 Lexington Ave.; 212-722-8959

Invecchiato: The cool little sister to nearby Sfoglia, this wine bar serves an extensive menu of vino - plus Med-influenced small plates - in a warm, inviting setting that just screams “date night” (or “girl date,” take your pick). 163 E. 92nd St.; 212-831-9463

East Pole: The Fat Radish crew brings their locavore-chic sensibilities uptown with this slightly more sophisticated venture on the Upper East Side, instantly popular with the area’s hipsters and their Chanel jacket-wearing forebearers. The menu includes many of the same items as its sister restaurant, as well as some new additions, all made with seasonally-changing ingredients. (The cocktail list is also a treat, if an expensive one, with drinks priced around $18.) 133 E. 65th St.; 212-249-2222

The Gilroy: The latest spot to hit the scene, this sexy cocktail bar specializes in Negronis - in fact, there’s an entire menu of different versions of the classic drink, including one made with mezcal and an aged, bottled version that’s meant to be shared between two people. Spigolo alum Joseph D’Angelo is behind the food menu, which includes mac and cheese, chicken pot pie and assorted cheese, salumi and crudo plates. 1561 Second Ave.; 212-734-8800

The Penrose: You’ll feel like you’re in Williamsburg at this hipster-chic gastropub from the Wilfie & Nell folks, best known for its craft cocktails, Penrose Burger (made with a custom Pat LaFrieda blend) and popular weekend brunch. We’re pretty sure the font on their menu is the same font that Wes Anderson uses in his movies, so that should say something about the vibe. 1590 Second Ave.; 212-203-2751

Jones Wood Foundry: One of the early harbingers that times were a-changin’ on the Upper East Side, this too-cool-for-school British pub offers craft beers and updated pub food in a cozy setting decorated with Union Jack flags, Sex Pistols posters and recipes for “cigarette biscuits” written on the bathroom walls. A rotating cast of cute, accented bartenders seals the deal. 401 E. 76th St.; 212-249-2700

Earl's Beer & Cheese: This small, unpretentious neighborhood spot put the Upper East Side dining scene on the map when it opened a few years ago, thanks to its rotating selection of craft beers and cheap but delicious eats like the New York cheddar grilled cheese, made with pork belly, kimchi and fried egg, which costs just $8. 1259 Park Ave.; 212-289-1581

The Guthrie Inn: This teeny-tiny spot is deceptively nondescript from the outside, but inside, it’s as cool as any place you’ll find Downtown, with exposed brick walls, a pressed-tin ceiling, a killer soundtrack and a cocktail list divided into three sections: Classics, Shaken & Refreshing and Boozy & Stirred. We’d recommend the Guthrie Julep, a twist on the traditional drink made with spiced rum and served in a copper cup. 1259 Park Ave.; 212-423-9900

The Jeffrey Craft Beer & Bites: A beacon of light in the no-man’s-land that is the stretch of 60th St. right near the entrance of the Queensboro Bridge, this brew bar serves up craft beer by the pint or growler, plus snacks like Sigmund’s Pretzels, housemade beef jerky and oysters on the half-shell. There’s also a tiny “Cocktail Lab,” where mixologist Jacob Tschetterr concocts unique drinks like The Beard, made with aged Scotch, cold-brew coffee and Xocolatl Mole Bitters. 311 E. 60th St.; 212-355-2337

DTUT: This reboot of a popular coffee-bar hybrid that closed in 2007 feels like someone’s cool living room, with mismatched furniture, an Edison lightbulb chandelier and vintage record player. It’s a coffee by day, craft beer and cocktails by night kind of place, with a small food menu that includes a grilled cheese sandwich made with brie and make-your-own s’mores. (P.S. "DTUT" stands for "Downtown Uptown," which seems appropriate, given the current scene up there.) 1744 Second Ave.; 212-410-6449

Places Mentioned

The East Pole Kitchen & Bar

American • East 60s

Food22 Decor20 Service19 Cost$65

East 90s

Food20 Decor19 Service20 Cost$33
The Gilroy

Cocktail Bar • East 80s

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
The Penrose

Irish • East 80s

Food20 Decor19 Service16 Cost$30
Jones Wood Foundry

British • East 70s

Food21 Decor20 Service20 Cost$48
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