clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A burger and a cheeseburger at J.G. Melon sit on a green checkered tablecloth, while a plate of fries sits nearbys.
J.G. Melon and its iconic green gingham tablecloth.
Eater NY

Where to Dine on the Upper East Side

From luxe omakase to Filipino food, here’s where to go on the Upper East Side

View as Map
J.G. Melon and its iconic green gingham tablecloth.
| Eater NY

Depending on whom you ask, Upper East Side restaurants are often thought of as obscenely expensive, stuffy spots — the kind of places a parent on Gossip Girl or a banker with an expense account might be a regular at. Either way, the Upper East Side’s restaurant scene doesn’t exactly scream destination dining. But there’s long been a surprising breadth of cuisine to be found, from excellent Filipino food to satisfying Persian fare. Here are the standouts for eating and drinking on the UES, whether it’s for handmade pasta, extravagant omakase, or some old-school pastrami sandwiches.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it also poses a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Read More
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

El Tepeyac Taqueria (97 St)

Copy Link

As businesses like Reyes Deli in Park Slope and Zaragoza in the East Village go to show, some of the city’s best Mexican food is found behind the counters of bodega-taquerias. El Tepeyac, on the border of East Harlem and the Upper East Side, is no exception. The burritos, which come with carne asada, al pastor, cecina, and a few other meats, are first rate. Order one to share, plus one of the restaurant’s lesser-seen Mexican dishes, like guaxmole verde (pork ribs in a sauce made from gauje seeds and jalapeno) or entomatado, a beef stew with tomatillo and chipotle chiles.

A hand with a crusted cuticle clutches a burrito overflowing with rice, beans, peppers, and mixed meat.
A first rate burrito.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Kaia Wine Bar

Copy Link

Kaia is a rare place in the city to find South African fare. Find dishes like duck with mango chutney, chilled asparagus soup, barramundi with roasted red peppers, and a lamb burger with sour-cherry compote. It also boasts an extensive South African wine list — making it a solid pick for a glass of wine and snack or a full-fledged meal.

A dining room full of people with wine lining the wall.
Find a lively wine bar at Kaia.
Kaia Wine Bar

Pastrami Queen

Copy Link

Some of the city’s finest pastrami on rye can be found at this Lexington Avenue spot, which was originally in Forest Hills and dubbed Pastrami King. The sandwiches are dressed simply with grainy mustard or Russian dressing. The corned beef is tasty, too, so order a sandwich with both pastrami and corned beef and enjoy it alongside some crunchy half-sour pickles. Another location on the Upper West Side opened during the pandemic.

Half of a pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard.
Pastrami on rye at Pastrami Queen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sushi Noz

Copy Link

Sushi Noz landed on the Upper East Side to near-immediate acclaim, including a Michelin star. The tranquil room is full of delicate cedar woodwork with an intimate sushi counter carved from a single 200-year-old hinoki tree. Centuries-old ceramics and an ice chest to keep the edomae-style sushi cold are very traditional. It’s an expensive omakase at $495 per person, service-included.

Chef Nozomu Abe holds a small box filled with binchotan charcoal above slices of tuna to grill them.
Chef Nozomu Abe of Sushi Noz.
Matt-Taylor Gross/Eater NY

Quality Eats

Copy Link

Utilize this meat-centric restaurant for affordable cuts of steak and inventive sides, like cacio e pepe orzo, corn creme brulee, and curly fries served in a brown paper bag. Dessert is also a standout, like the highly photogenic birthday cake sundae. There’s an additional location in the West Village.

A dining room with windows up front.
The dining room at Quality Eats.
Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater NY

This cozy, casual Italian place that’s been open since 2005 has the look of a country house, with warm lighting, well-worn wood tables, exposed brick, and a hodgepodge of antiques. In fact, its decor is so charming that pieces have even been pilfered over the years, like proprietor Massimo Lusardi’s grandfather’s collection of antique corkscrews. It’s a solid brunch choice, too, for dishes that eclipse standard-issue Benedicts. Specials like veal meatball sliders, focaccia with Nutella, and pizzas are available after 10 p.m.

A wood-bedecked dining room with candles.
Uva is a rare Upper East Side spot with a late-night menu.
Uva

J.G. Melon

Copy Link

This well-worn barroom was founded in 1972 and keeps its nostalgic feel with melon-themed decor and its signature green gingham tablecloths. J.G. Melon serves other items like sandwiches and chili, but stick to the program and go for the burger (which, much to the dismay of some fans, is no longer served with the original cottage fries). Despite what some critics say, J.G. Melon is, without a doubt, one of the most charming restaurants on the Upper East Side.

A juicy cheeseburger in a basket with pickles and purple onions.
J.G. Melon’s cheeseburger is unsurpassed in the neighborhood.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

NR is the second restaurant from Shigefumi Kabashima, who owns the excellent ROKC in Harlem. Like the Harlem restaurant, NR serves hearty bowls of ramen and cocktails in unique vessels, like a porcelain egg, but unlike the small and often cramped ROKC, this Upper East Side spot has space for more than 100 diners.

A gold and white plate with spaghetti pasta topped with uni and herbs.
Uni spaghetti at NR.
Zenith Richards/NR

Three nurses opened this restaurant during the pandemic to cater to the frontline workers at nearby hospitals. From breakfast to dinner, classic dishes from the Philippines shine here, as Eater critic Robert Sietsema noted: a breakfast version of sisig (a pork dish with an egg on top), curry-like kare kare, and desserts with vanilla-scented pandan leaves.

A black metal platter with minced pork parts and skin, plus a raw egg cracked on top.
Sisig at Bilao.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2nd Ave Deli

Copy Link

This Kosher institution is one of the top places to find reliable Jewish deli fare on the Upper East Side. The classics are all there — pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and matzo ball soup — as well as more traditional dishes that are harder to find, like ptcha (jellied calves feet) and kasha varnishkes (bow tie pasta with barley). The original Murray Hill restaurant expanded to this location in 2011, and in 2017 added an upstairs cocktail bar to entice a younger crowd.

A brick building in New York City with 2nd Ave Deli on the ground floor.
2nd Ave Deli on the Upper East Side.
Ben Fractenberg/Eater NY

The Migrant Kitchen Upper East Side

Copy Link

Nasser Jaber debuted an Upper East Side outpost of his philanthropically minded Middle Eastern and Latin American takeout spot late last year. Drop by for assorted empanadas (stuffed with chicken tinga, lamb, or bacon, egg, and cheese), sumac-spiced lamb tortas, cauliflower shawarma wraps, halloumi and chorizo bowls, and whole roast chickens. Portions of each order go towards providing meals to city residents in need.

Dark brown sumac fried chicken sits over falafel waffles with pickled carrots; the plate sits above a green table.
Middle Eastern and Latin American flavors combine at the Migrant Kitchen.
Gary He/Eater NY

Mission Ceviche

Copy Link

This Peruvian spot focuses on fresh, bright ceviches. Find tuna tartare-like tuna tiradito with typical Peruvian dishes like aji de gallina, and shredded chicken breast in a creamy yellow pepper sauce. The ceviches are the star of the show, though — they landed the restaurant a one-star review in the Times.

A bowl of ceviche resting on an orange sauce and topped with red onions.
As the name suggests, ceviche is the move at Mission Ceviche.
Mission Ceviche

This two-Michelin-starred, James Beard Award-decorated fine French institution from chef Daniel Boulud is a proper special-occasion restaurant. It’s extremely refined, fancy, and expensive. Dinner is $188 for four courses (before supplements), or $275 for eight courses.

Chef Daniel Boulud stands with his arms crossed in chef’s whites.
Chef Daniel Boulud’s Daniel is a special-occasion pick.
Daniel Krieger/Eater

Donohue's Steak House

Copy Link

Dining at this family-owned steakhouse is like revisiting old New York. Regulars, from locals to literary types, hold court at the black leather booths or sit at the long bar sipping cocktails. The menu includes the usual cuts of steaks but other old-time items include chopped steak and chicken pot pie.

A plate with chopped steak topped with onions and served with a side of fries.
Chopped steak at Donohue’s.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Sushi Seki

Copy Link

Sushi Seki offers a la carte and omakase menus with all the classic rolls, sushi, and sashimi represented. It’s considered one of the area’s better and more affordable sushi spots in a city swimming with $400 omakase experiences. The restaurant has two other locations, Chelsea and Times Square, but this is the original outpost.

Head to Ravagh when a craving strikes for satisfying skewers of meat: The barg kababs, featuring chunks of beef tenderloin, and jujeh kebabs, comprised of cornish hen marinated in lemon and saffron, come highly recommended. Charred tomato and onion accompany meat entrees; choose from an array of soups, dips, stews, and desserts, too. The Iranian-run Persian chain has three other locations in the New York metropolitan area, including one in Midtown.

El Tepeyac Taqueria (97 St)

As businesses like Reyes Deli in Park Slope and Zaragoza in the East Village go to show, some of the city’s best Mexican food is found behind the counters of bodega-taquerias. El Tepeyac, on the border of East Harlem and the Upper East Side, is no exception. The burritos, which come with carne asada, al pastor, cecina, and a few other meats, are first rate. Order one to share, plus one of the restaurant’s lesser-seen Mexican dishes, like guaxmole verde (pork ribs in a sauce made from gauje seeds and jalapeno) or entomatado, a beef stew with tomatillo and chipotle chiles.

A hand with a crusted cuticle clutches a burrito overflowing with rice, beans, peppers, and mixed meat.
A first rate burrito.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Kaia Wine Bar

Kaia is a rare place in the city to find South African fare. Find dishes like duck with mango chutney, chilled asparagus soup, barramundi with roasted red peppers, and a lamb burger with sour-cherry compote. It also boasts an extensive South African wine list — making it a solid pick for a glass of wine and snack or a full-fledged meal.

A dining room full of people with wine lining the wall.
Find a lively wine bar at Kaia.
Kaia Wine Bar

Pastrami Queen

Some of the city’s finest pastrami on rye can be found at this Lexington Avenue spot, which was originally in Forest Hills and dubbed Pastrami King. The sandwiches are dressed simply with grainy mustard or Russian dressing. The corned beef is tasty, too, so order a sandwich with both pastrami and corned beef and enjoy it alongside some crunchy half-sour pickles. Another location on the Upper West Side opened during the pandemic.

Half of a pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard.
Pastrami on rye at Pastrami Queen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sushi Noz

Sushi Noz landed on the Upper East Side to near-immediate acclaim, including a Michelin star. The tranquil room is full of delicate cedar woodwork with an intimate sushi counter carved from a single 200-year-old hinoki tree. Centuries-old ceramics and an ice chest to keep the edomae-style sushi cold are very traditional. It’s an expensive omakase at $495 per person, service-included.

Chef Nozomu Abe holds a small box filled with binchotan charcoal above slices of tuna to grill them.
Chef Nozomu Abe of Sushi Noz.
Matt-Taylor Gross/Eater NY

Quality Eats

Utilize this meat-centric restaurant for affordable cuts of steak and inventive sides, like cacio e pepe orzo, corn creme brulee, and curly fries served in a brown paper bag. Dessert is also a standout, like the highly photogenic birthday cake sundae. There’s an additional location in the West Village.

A dining room with windows up front.
The dining room at Quality Eats.
Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater NY

Uva

This cozy, casual Italian place that’s been open since 2005 has the look of a country house, with warm lighting, well-worn wood tables, exposed brick, and a hodgepodge of antiques. In fact, its decor is so charming that pieces have even been pilfered over the years, like proprietor Massimo Lusardi’s grandfather’s collection of antique corkscrews. It’s a solid brunch choice, too, for dishes that eclipse standard-issue Benedicts. Specials like veal meatball sliders, focaccia with Nutella, and pizzas are available after 10 p.m.

A wood-bedecked dining room with candles.
Uva is a rare Upper East Side spot with a late-night menu.
Uva

J.G. Melon

This well-worn barroom was founded in 1972 and keeps its nostalgic feel with melon-themed decor and its signature green gingham tablecloths. J.G. Melon serves other items like sandwiches and chili, but stick to the program and go for the burger (which, much to the dismay of some fans, is no longer served with the original cottage fries). Despite what some critics say, J.G. Melon is, without a doubt, one of the most charming restaurants on the Upper East Side.

A juicy cheeseburger in a basket with pickles and purple onions.
J.G. Melon’s cheeseburger is unsurpassed in the neighborhood.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

NR

NR is the second restaurant from Shigefumi Kabashima, who owns the excellent ROKC in Harlem. Like the Harlem restaurant, NR serves hearty bowls of ramen and cocktails in unique vessels, like a porcelain egg, but unlike the small and often cramped ROKC, this Upper East Side spot has space for more than 100 diners.

A gold and white plate with spaghetti pasta topped with uni and herbs.
Uni spaghetti at NR.
Zenith Richards/NR

Bilao

Three nurses opened this restaurant during the pandemic to cater to the frontline workers at nearby hospitals. From breakfast to dinner, classic dishes from the Philippines shine here, as Eater critic Robert Sietsema noted: a breakfast version of sisig (a pork dish with an egg on top), curry-like kare kare, and desserts with vanilla-scented pandan leaves.

A black metal platter with minced pork parts and skin, plus a raw egg cracked on top.
Sisig at Bilao.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2nd Ave Deli

This Kosher institution is one of the top places to find reliable Jewish deli fare on the Upper East Side. The classics are all there — pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and matzo ball soup — as well as more traditional dishes that are harder to find, like ptcha (jellied calves feet) and kasha varnishkes (bow tie pasta with barley). The original Murray Hill restaurant expanded to this location in 2011, and in 2017 added an upstairs cocktail bar to entice a younger crowd.

A brick building in New York City with 2nd Ave Deli on the ground floor.
2nd Ave Deli on the Upper East Side.
Ben Fractenberg/Eater NY

The Migrant Kitchen Upper East Side

Nasser Jaber debuted an Upper East Side outpost of his philanthropically minded Middle Eastern and Latin American takeout spot late last year. Drop by for assorted empanadas (stuffed with chicken tinga, lamb, or bacon, egg, and cheese), sumac-spiced lamb tortas, cauliflower shawarma wraps, halloumi and chorizo bowls, and whole roast chickens. Portions of each order go towards providing meals to city residents in need.

Dark brown sumac fried chicken sits over falafel waffles with pickled carrots; the plate sits above a green table.
Middle Eastern and Latin American flavors combine at the Migrant Kitchen.
Gary He/Eater NY

Mission Ceviche

This Peruvian spot focuses on fresh, bright ceviches. Find tuna tartare-like tuna tiradito with typical Peruvian dishes like aji de gallina, and shredded chicken breast in a creamy yellow pepper sauce. The ceviches are the star of the show, though — they landed the restaurant a one-star review in the Times.

A bowl of ceviche resting on an orange sauce and topped with red onions.
As the name suggests, ceviche is the move at Mission Ceviche.
Mission Ceviche

Daniel

This two-Michelin-starred, James Beard Award-decorated fine French institution from chef Daniel Boulud is a proper special-occasion restaurant. It’s extremely refined, fancy, and expensive. Dinner is $188 for four courses (before supplements), or $275 for eight courses.

Chef Daniel Boulud stands with his arms crossed in chef’s whites.
Chef Daniel Boulud’s Daniel is a special-occasion pick.
Daniel Krieger/Eater

Donohue's Steak House

Dining at this family-owned steakhouse is like revisiting old New York. Regulars, from locals to literary types, hold court at the black leather booths or sit at the long bar sipping cocktails. The menu includes the usual cuts of steaks but other old-time items include chopped steak and chicken pot pie.

A plate with chopped steak topped with onions and served with a side of fries.
Chopped steak at Donohue’s.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Sushi Seki

Sushi Seki offers a la carte and omakase menus with all the classic rolls, sushi, and sashimi represented. It’s considered one of the area’s better and more affordable sushi spots in a city swimming with $400 omakase experiences. The restaurant has two other locations, Chelsea and Times Square, but this is the original outpost.

Related Maps

Ravagh

Head to Ravagh when a craving strikes for satisfying skewers of meat: The barg kababs, featuring chunks of beef tenderloin, and jujeh kebabs, comprised of cornish hen marinated in lemon and saffron, come highly recommended. Charred tomato and onion accompany meat entrees; choose from an array of soups, dips, stews, and desserts, too. The Iranian-run Persian chain has three other locations in the New York metropolitan area, including one in Midtown.

Related Maps