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The Met Breuer
The Met Breuer
Nick Solares

Where to Drink and Dine Near the Upper East Side Museums

There are some options on the Upper East Side

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The Met Breuer
| Nick Solares

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the MoMA, to the Guggenheim, many of the nation's finest museums are on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For your next museum trip, here's a map of 15 restaurants, cafes, and diners, from a ritzy bar for martini-sipping, to a few classic New York burgers.

Note: map is organized alphabetically. This map is updated from Spring 2016.

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Balon NYC

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Balon is an intimate restaurant and wine bar that's a short walk from the museums. Here, a team of sommeliers helps diners navigate the French, Spanish, and Italian wines on the list. Snacks include mussels, charcuterie, cheese boards, and a baby rack of lamb.

Bemelmans Bar

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There is arguably no bar more elegant in Manhattan, and no fancier martini than the one at The Carlyle Hotel's signature bar. Bemelmans opens daily at noon, at which point vodka, gin, and mixed nuts start flowing. The live piano music and stellar drinks make for a time warp just minutes from the museums.

Photo: The Carlyle

Café Boulud

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Daniel Boulud's slightly more relaxed UES haunt Cafe Boulud is a short walk from the steps of the Met, and an even shorter walk to the Met Breuer. It's upscale for sure, but Boulud does offer a few options that are totally reasonable, like two lunch pre-fixes for $39 and $45. Weekend menus through the summer include the three-course French Riviera menu that's for $68. For lovely cuisine and service, Cafe Boulud is an opportunity to treat yourself.

Photo: Cafe Boulud

Café Sabarsky

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The Neue Galerie is home to German and Austrian art and design of the early twentieth-century, and downstairs resides the museum's in house cafe, Cafe Sabarsky. It draws it's inspiration from Viennese cafes, serving sweet and savory pasties in a wood-paneled space. Cafe Sabarsky feels like an extension of the gallery.

Candle 79

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For the vegan museum-goer, Candle 79 is a true failsafe. It's just about a one minute walk from the Met Breuer (and about 15 from the Guggenheim), and offers dinner options like spinach ravioli with cashew parmesan, pomegranate BBQ seitan skewers, and a mezze platter. Candle 79 serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. Note that it's closed from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Flora Bar + Flora Coffee

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The crown jewel of the Upper East Side, Flora Bar and its attached sister Flora Coffee provide a heady mix of options for before, after, or during a museum visit (it's located inside the Met Breuer). Stop in for cafe vibes at Flora Coffee, with a sticky bun and coffee; enjoy a luxe lunch of steak with Béarnaise and a glass of wine; or settle in for dinner with lobster and crab dumplings or lamb ribs. Instant favorites at the Upper East Side restaurant also include stracciatella with meyer lemon, tuna tartare, and a purple endive salad with pecans and blue cheese.

J.G. Melon

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The OG J.G. has been an Upper East Side staple for over 40 years, thanks in part to one of the city's best burgers, even better with a side of cottage fries.

Little Frog

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Minetta Tavern vet and executive chef Xavier Monge opened Little Frog late last year, bringing a little of that McNally-influenced flare to the Upper East Side. Monge's previous experience also lends to Little Frog dishes like steak tartare with capers, steak frites, and a whole roasted Normandy duck. It's a bright and inviting space, suitable for pre- or post-museum strolling.

Photo: Little Frog

Nica Trattoria

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Even if you're not visiting the nearby museums, Nica's gorgonzola gnocchi is reason enough to head to East 84th Street. Other pasta dishes like the tagliatelle Bolognese, spaghetti carbonara, and four-cheese rigatoni have made Nica Trattoria a neighborhood gem for almost a decade.

Photo: Nica Trattoria

Pastrami Queen

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For Eater critic Robert Sietsema, Pastrami Queen is turning out some of the city's best pastrami. Served on rye bread with options like grainy mustard and Russian dressing, the namesake sandwich is certainly the thing to get here. Plus: The Queen also serves a wonderful corned beef. For those looking for a pre-museum visit, breakfast options include salami and eggs, pastrami and eggs, and a four-egg omelet.

Photo: Robert Sietsema

Pizza Beach

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This is the original Pizza Beach location, where seasonal pies include the zucca with roasted kabocha squash, a four-cheese pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, and gorgonzola, and a roasted pear and Taleggio pizza. Veggie-friendly options include roasted carrots, grilled corn elotes, and sweet potatoes with avocado. The vibe here is fun and playful: a nice contrast before or after a museum visit.

Sant Ambroeus Madison Ave

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Sandwiched between the Met and Met Breuer, old-school Milanese restaurant Sant Ambroeus is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Lunch options include a Caprese salad, yellowfin tuna tartare, tagliatelle Bolognese, and a green lasagna. There's also an espresso and cappuccino bar serving gelato, pastries, and homemade cakes.

Photo: Sant Ambroeus

Seamstress

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With a bar that opens daily at 5:30 p.m. Seamstress is a great place for a post-museum visit. Diners can sit by the fireplace as they sip on domestic beers and cocktails like the No Say with mezcal, Aperol, pineapple, and lemongrass. Options on the food menu include a burger, roasted Hudson Valley foie gras, pork belly, and oysters Rockefeller.

Shake Shack

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A Shack Burger and Chicken Shack are just 10 minutes away from the steps of the Met. This is one of Shake Shack's sleepiest and most spacious locations.

The Penrose

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The Penrose is one of the better bars on the Upper East Side, often found to be bumping most nights of the week. The menu here lists shareable options like fish tacos, fried shishito peppers, fried calamari, and fried pickles. This is definitely a shift from the peaceful museum vibe.

Photo: The Penrose

Balon NYC

Balon is an intimate restaurant and wine bar that's a short walk from the museums. Here, a team of sommeliers helps diners navigate the French, Spanish, and Italian wines on the list. Snacks include mussels, charcuterie, cheese boards, and a baby rack of lamb.

Bemelmans Bar

There is arguably no bar more elegant in Manhattan, and no fancier martini than the one at The Carlyle Hotel's signature bar. Bemelmans opens daily at noon, at which point vodka, gin, and mixed nuts start flowing. The live piano music and stellar drinks make for a time warp just minutes from the museums.

Photo: The Carlyle

Café Boulud

Daniel Boulud's slightly more relaxed UES haunt Cafe Boulud is a short walk from the steps of the Met, and an even shorter walk to the Met Breuer. It's upscale for sure, but Boulud does offer a few options that are totally reasonable, like two lunch pre-fixes for $39 and $45. Weekend menus through the summer include the three-course French Riviera menu that's for $68. For lovely cuisine and service, Cafe Boulud is an opportunity to treat yourself.

Photo: Cafe Boulud

Café Sabarsky

The Neue Galerie is home to German and Austrian art and design of the early twentieth-century, and downstairs resides the museum's in house cafe, Cafe Sabarsky. It draws it's inspiration from Viennese cafes, serving sweet and savory pasties in a wood-paneled space. Cafe Sabarsky feels like an extension of the gallery.

Candle 79

For the vegan museum-goer, Candle 79 is a true failsafe. It's just about a one minute walk from the Met Breuer (and about 15 from the Guggenheim), and offers dinner options like spinach ravioli with cashew parmesan, pomegranate BBQ seitan skewers, and a mezze platter. Candle 79 serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. Note that it's closed from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Flora Bar + Flora Coffee

The crown jewel of the Upper East Side, Flora Bar and its attached sister Flora Coffee provide a heady mix of options for before, after, or during a museum visit (it's located inside the Met Breuer). Stop in for cafe vibes at Flora Coffee, with a sticky bun and coffee; enjoy a luxe lunch of steak with Béarnaise and a glass of wine; or settle in for dinner with lobster and crab dumplings or lamb ribs. Instant favorites at the Upper East Side restaurant also include stracciatella with meyer lemon, tuna tartare, and a purple endive salad with pecans and blue cheese.

J.G. Melon

The OG J.G. has been an Upper East Side staple for over 40 years, thanks in part to one of the city's best burgers, even better with a side of cottage fries.

Little Frog

Minetta Tavern vet and executive chef Xavier Monge opened Little Frog late last year, bringing a little of that McNally-influenced flare to the Upper East Side. Monge's previous experience also lends to Little Frog dishes like steak tartare with capers, steak frites, and a whole roasted Normandy duck. It's a bright and inviting space, suitable for pre- or post-museum strolling.

Photo: Little Frog

Nica Trattoria

Even if you're not visiting the nearby museums, Nica's gorgonzola gnocchi is reason enough to head to East 84th Street. Other pasta dishes like the tagliatelle Bolognese, spaghetti carbonara, and four-cheese rigatoni have made Nica Trattoria a neighborhood gem for almost a decade.

Photo: Nica Trattoria

Pastrami Queen

For Eater critic Robert Sietsema, Pastrami Queen is turning out some of the city's best pastrami. Served on rye bread with options like grainy mustard and Russian dressing, the namesake sandwich is certainly the thing to get here. Plus: The Queen also serves a wonderful corned beef. For those looking for a pre-museum visit, breakfast options include salami and eggs, pastrami and eggs, and a four-egg omelet.

Photo: Robert Sietsema

Pizza Beach

This is the original Pizza Beach location, where seasonal pies include the zucca with roasted kabocha squash, a four-cheese pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, and gorgonzola, and a roasted pear and Taleggio pizza. Veggie-friendly options include roasted carrots, grilled corn elotes, and sweet potatoes with avocado. The vibe here is fun and playful: a nice contrast before or after a museum visit.

Sant Ambroeus Madison Ave

Sandwiched between the Met and Met Breuer, old-school Milanese restaurant Sant Ambroeus is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Lunch options include a Caprese salad, yellowfin tuna tartare, tagliatelle Bolognese, and a green lasagna. There's also an espresso and cappuccino bar serving gelato, pastries, and homemade cakes.

Photo: Sant Ambroeus

Seamstress

With a bar that opens daily at 5:30 p.m. Seamstress is a great place for a post-museum visit. Diners can sit by the fireplace as they sip on domestic beers and cocktails like the No Say with mezcal, Aperol, pineapple, and lemongrass. Options on the food menu include a burger, roasted Hudson Valley foie gras, pork belly, and oysters Rockefeller.

Shake Shack

A Shack Burger and Chicken Shack are just 10 minutes away from the steps of the Met. This is one of Shake Shack's sleepiest and most spacious locations.

The Penrose

The Penrose is one of the better bars on the Upper East Side, often found to be bumping most nights of the week. The menu here lists shareable options like fish tacos, fried shishito peppers, fried calamari, and fried pickles. This is definitely a shift from the peaceful museum vibe.

Photo: The Penrose

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