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A line of ornate row houses with blue sky and clouds above.
Stately townhouses on the Upper West Side’s 72nd Street
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

22 Restaurants That Show Off the Upper West Side

The neighborhood is shedding its sleepy reputation with everything from spicy Sichuan to lively Vietnamese spots

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Stately townhouses on the Upper West Side’s 72nd Street
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

At the start of this century, it was commonplace to say there were no good restaurants on the Upper West Side. It was wrong then and is even more wrong now, as new places open up. A cluster of Chinese restaurants have popped up on the northernmost edge of the neighborhood, new kosher and halal places are surging, and pizzerias offer arcane styles rarely seen in the city. Meanwhile, Mexican restaurants with affordable and more upscale menus dot the landscape, along with Vietnamese, Indian, Turkish, and Chilean places — supplementing the area’s favorite pubs, bistros, and Italian restaurants.

True, the pandemic closed down nearly half of this map at one point, but just as old-guard institutions like Shun Lee West and Old John’s Luncheonette shuttered (the last returned in revamped form last June), new classics like Bánh Vietnamese Shop House, Pastrami Queen, and Charles Pan Fried Chicken appeared. Culinarily speaking, the Upper West Side, which extends from Columbus Circle to 110th Street west of Central Park, is always renewing itself.

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

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Atlas Kitchen

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Three years ago when fine-dining restaurant Atlas Kitchen appeared, it was instantly filled with customers that we suspected were students and faculty at Columbia. The bi-level space was handsome and modern, and the menu had sourced recipes from all over China. Chef and Hunan native Kaiyuan Li directs the kitchen, and his creations run to Chongqing chicken, steamed fish head with red chiles, and beef flank in dry wok — taking advantage of the chef’s experiences in Germany.

Bowls filled with colorful poultry and vegetables.
An assortment of dishes from Atlas Kitchen.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Bombay Frankie Roti Roll

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This narrow but delicious stall concentrates on the street food of Mumbai, sometimes known as Bombay frankies. Plenty of vegetarian and vegan options are available here in the shape of rolled-up rotis with a variety of fillings, including spinach, mushroom, omelet, and potatoes. This is fast food at its flavorful best, and don’t miss the spicy masala fries.

A pair or flatbread rolls, each cut in two and propped up, filled with green vegetables.
Roti rolls are an inexpensive dining option.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Happy Hot Hunan

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Founded by Yunchou Liu and Jia Liu, few Hunan restaurants in the city are as good as this one, with a long menu to match. Hunan food exhibits hot and sour flavors, pickled ingredients, and other staples preserved by drying and smoking. Accordingly, try smoked pork with smoked bamboo shoots (which tastes engagingly like barbecue) and — not just for vegetarians — mustard greens that come dotted with garlic and pickled chiles.

A white plastic bowl containing a stir fry.
Smoked pork with smoked bamboo shoots at Happy Hot Hunan.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Bánh Vietnamese Shop House

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An exciting restaurant founded by Nhu Ton and John Nguyen, Bánh has made the Upper West Side one of the city’s primary destinations for Vietnamese food. Many dishes appear with nuances such as a dark, turmeric-laced banh xeo with a coconut batter and a wealth of inclusions like marinated shrimp, smoked pork belly, and mung-bean puree. Creative banh mi are fit for a picnic at nearby Central Park, and every meal at Banh Vietnamese Shop House is an adventure.

A plate with leafy green lettuce, white rice noodles, a small bowl with dipping sauce, and barbecued pork, sits on a wooden table
Bun cha at Bánh Vietnamese Shop House.
Rachel Vanni/Eater NY

Broadway Diner

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Greek diners and their Cuban-Chinese counterparts used to fill the entire length of the Upper West Side’s Broadway like beads on a necklace. Now, few are left. Broadway Diner is one of the old-timers, all cracked formica and stools that twirl along a horseshoe-shaped lunch counter. The breakfasts are especially good, the pancakes, the bulging muffins, and the two-egg breakfasts that come with an expanded choice of meats that includes salami and pastrami shaved thin like bacon, served with mustard. Burgers and sandwiches are exactly what you’d expect.

A breakfast plate with toast, coffee, and fried eggs, with pastrami that looks like bacon.
Two eggs with toast, hash browns, and pastrami sliced and cooked like bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Malecon

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Malecon is a venerable Cuban restaurant with overlayerings of Dominican and Puerto Rican food, showing the shifting Latin population of a neighborhood that formed the backdrop for West Side Story. Classic pressed sandwiches, pork and pot roasts, rotisserie and fricasseed chickens, mofongos, and meal-size soups have kept patrons coming for decades to this lively spot.

A soup of white beans, ham, and pig feet.
Caldo gallego is a rib-sticking soup at Malecon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taqueria 86

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Named after the year that saw the World Cup being held in Mexico City, Taqueria 86 is a Mexican sports bar with exceedingly comfortable seating and not as many video screens as you might have feared. The 10 taco choices — two to an order, and geographically themed — are nicely turned out using Nixtamal tortillas. The tacos are supplemented with other obvious sports bar snacks, including corn on the cob, guac and chips, flautas, plus burritos, quesadillas, and tortas.

Two beefy tacos on a metal tray with a green checked placemat.
Guadalajara birria tacos from soccer-themed Taqueria 86.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Izzy’s Smokehouse

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It started out in Crown Heights in 2016 and eventually established a branch on the Upper West Side — it might also be one of the city’s first kosher Texas-style barbecues. The brisket sandwich — anomalously topped with purple slaw — is a good choice, but then so are the nicely fatty lamb ribs and the beef “dino” ribs. Barbecue tacos, egg rolls, and chimichurri chicken are also available and worth trying.

Brisket sandwich cut in half to show cross section, with purple cabbage slaw above the meat and a layer of pickled slices underneath.
Izzy’s brisket sandwich comes with slaw.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Holy Schnitzel

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The roster of UWS kosher choices got a boost with the arrival of this homegrown Brooklyn chain on Amsterdam Avenue, founded by Sivan and Ofeer Benaltaba and now boasting a handful of branches in NYC. The kitchen has perfected the art of cooking breaded chicken cutlets so they become super crisp on the outside while remaining moist in the middle. Several coatings are available (including sesame, panko, and cornflakes), as are several flavors. The non-cutlet items worth ordering include hot dogs, hummus, avocado salad, and potato cigars (pastry flutes oozing spuds).

a breaded cutlet hero sandwich cut in half to show cross section.
How about a chicken schnitzel sandwich for lunch?
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Dagon is one of the more buzzy restaurants on the Upper West Side right now. The dining room is loud and airy whether or not the windows facing the sidewalk are open. Grab a seat at the bar and order the mezze collection for $45 — such as the Japanese eggplant confit, marinated beets, Moroccan carrots, chicken liver mousse, labneh, and muhamarra. Don’t miss the breads.

Six plates of vegetables and other mezze on a table at Dagon on the Upper West Side.
Mezze at Dagon includes six selections, such as muhamarra, labneh, and marinated beets.
Melissa McCart

Chick Chick

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Early last year, the Upper West Side finally got the Korean fried chicken joint it was hoping for, from BoMee Chu and chef Jun Park. The usual wings, tenders, and sandwiches are available with a choice of flavoring schemes, but a surprise offering is a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich. Other distractions include kimchi fried rice, chicken ramen, and green tea cheesecake.

Sweet gochujang sauce coats large fried chicken piece sitting on a white plate with daikon radish cubes
Fried chicken with gochujang sauce at Chick Chick.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Barney Greengrass

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Styling itself as the “Sturgeon King,” this 1908 repository of preserved fish on the Upper West Side is also a fully functional meat deli, with notably normal-sized, rather than overstuffed, sandwiches (pastrami, tongue, turkey, salami, and chopped liver) on rye. There are some crossover favorites too, such as pastrami-cured salmon on a bagel and a tongue omelet.

Pale slices of fish fanned on white butcher paper.
Barney Greengrass’s smoked sturgeon is sublime.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jacob's Pickles

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Originally helmed by chefs Glenroy Brown and Harold Villarosa, Jacob’s Pickles appeared 11 years ago. This might be the Upper West Side’s most downtown-feeling restaurant, offering what it describes as “southern comfort food” that includes fried chicken, deviled eggs, gumbo, shrimp and grits, and biscuit-borne sandwiches, most involving bacon. There are a few Jewish flourishes, such as matzoh ball soup and pickles, pickles, and more pickles. Prominent whiskey and craft beer menus also make this a drinking destination.

A tottering heap of ingredients with a metal cup of grits on the side.
The fillings of the Southern BLT include fried chicken, pickle slaw, fried green tomatoes, and bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jin Ramen

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Via chef Shuichi Kotani, this unexpectedly great mainstay offers reasonably priced bowls of ramen with a choice of six broths: shio, shoyu, tonkotsu, spicy tonkotsu, miso, and vegetarian. Novelty bowls incorporate Thai green curry paste and Korean kimchi, along with a choice of thin or thick noodles, firmer than usual. Starters include several salads in addition to the usual fried chicken and edamame.

Jin Ramen storefront with two bushes in front.
Jin Ramen is one of a half dozen good ramen parlors on the UWS.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Black Lab Cafe

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Kris and Nik Powers and their mother, Lise Evans decided to open a spot that’s for the dogs. Named for their labs, Daisy and Lola, Black Lab Cafe is a coffee shop with treats for people and Fido alike. Look for a menu of coffee and teas, salads, pastries, and sandwiches, as well as a separate dog-friendly menu.

Nice Matin

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This facsimile Parisian brasserie, founded in 2003, is an UWS workhorse, serving French bistro standards to the neighborhood at a brisk pace, and has continued even during the pandemic. A nice moules frites, the Provencal basil soup called pistou, and New York strip steak frites, plus a few Italian-leaning specialties such as risotto and short-rib ravioli.

A heap of shiny pork, including sausages and bacon, in broth.
Nice Matin serves a classic Alsatian choucroute garni.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jing Fong

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NYC dim sum staple Jing Fong, owned by Ming Lam and his son Truman Lam, opened its first location nearly 40 years ago in Chinatown and expanded to the Upper West Side in 2017 with a smaller outpost. Now the behemoth Elizabeth Street branch is closed, replaced by a smaller Centre Street manifestation. The UWS branch still hoists the torch high, with a menu that highlights noodles and dim sum, along with a limited collection of classic stir-fries of chicken, pork, and shrimp.

An overhead photograph of two wooden steamer baskets filled with dim sum dishes.
Dim sum service at Jing Fong.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Long-running Park Slope restaurant Miriam, which is popular for its brunch, has spun off an Upper West Side branch just as tasty as the original. Eggs are an important focus, including an unusual green shakshuka, featuring masses of mild green chiles, and another centered on a seeded Jerusalem bagel with fixings on the side. Dinners can include a series of small-plate mezze, or larger plates like lamb shanks, whole fish, short ribs, or a novel Mediterranean seafood paella.

A bowl of green stew with eggs on top.
Green shakshuka with labneh and pita at newly opened Miriam.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Charles Pan-Fried Chicken

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Since the mid-’80s Charles Gabriel’s celebrated fried chicken has found a variety of homes in Harlem storefronts and trucks, but he has now settled in on the Upper West Side. His new place doesn’t offer seating, but there is an expanded menu of fried chicken, ribs, turkey wings, smothered chicken, and jumbo shrimp — with all the usual soul food sides (the lima beans are particularly good). The secret to the poultry? Gabriel fries his chicken to order in a series of bubbling skillets, resulting in a more evenly cooked bird.

A portly chef dressed in whites, pulling down his mask for the picture.
The legendary Charles Gabriel, skillets in background.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pastrami Queen

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This kosher Upper East Side (and before that, Queens) transplant turned heads when it opened a year ago during the pandemic, and it generated long, socially distanced lines. It’s been a long time since the Upper West Side could boast pastrami this good. Carry out — and eat fast. Matzo ball soup and hot dogs liberally smeared with mustard are tops, too.

In a wooded setting, a hand holds an overstuffed sandwich aloft.
Mile-high pastrami on rye at the imperial Pastrami Queen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sido Falafel & More

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The narrow stall on Columbus Avenue is a great place for a Middle Eastern pit stop, including a bargain chicken shawarma sandwich jammed with good tomatoes and dripping tahini (you may have to resort to a fork). Other good bets include the grilled-to-order beef kafta kebabs, garlicky baked fava beans, and the generous three-item combo platters.

A pita sandwich yawning open with chicken, tahini, onions, and tomatoes visible.
Sido’s chicken shawarma sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Épicerie Boulud

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This casual serve-yourself cafe from Daniel Boulud offers memorable eat-and-run breakfasts, pastries, and a shifting selection of sandwiches and charcuterie right across the street from Lincoln Center. For a more formal sit-down affair, Bar Boulud is located next door. The breakfast sandwich on bechamel-slathered brioche made with gruyere and bacon is a particular delight.

A dark bunned, nearly flattened breakfast sandwich with bacon and egg visible.
Breakfast sandwich at Épicerie Boulud.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Atlas Kitchen

Three years ago when fine-dining restaurant Atlas Kitchen appeared, it was instantly filled with customers that we suspected were students and faculty at Columbia. The bi-level space was handsome and modern, and the menu had sourced recipes from all over China. Chef and Hunan native Kaiyuan Li directs the kitchen, and his creations run to Chongqing chicken, steamed fish head with red chiles, and beef flank in dry wok — taking advantage of the chef’s experiences in Germany.

Bowls filled with colorful poultry and vegetables.
An assortment of dishes from Atlas Kitchen.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Bombay Frankie Roti Roll

This narrow but delicious stall concentrates on the street food of Mumbai, sometimes known as Bombay frankies. Plenty of vegetarian and vegan options are available here in the shape of rolled-up rotis with a variety of fillings, including spinach, mushroom, omelet, and potatoes. This is fast food at its flavorful best, and don’t miss the spicy masala fries.

A pair or flatbread rolls, each cut in two and propped up, filled with green vegetables.
Roti rolls are an inexpensive dining option.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Happy Hot Hunan

Founded by Yunchou Liu and Jia Liu, few Hunan restaurants in the city are as good as this one, with a long menu to match. Hunan food exhibits hot and sour flavors, pickled ingredients, and other staples preserved by drying and smoking. Accordingly, try smoked pork with smoked bamboo shoots (which tastes engagingly like barbecue) and — not just for vegetarians — mustard greens that come dotted with garlic and pickled chiles.

A white plastic bowl containing a stir fry.
Smoked pork with smoked bamboo shoots at Happy Hot Hunan.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Bánh Vietnamese Shop House

An exciting restaurant founded by Nhu Ton and John Nguyen, Bánh has made the Upper West Side one of the city’s primary destinations for Vietnamese food. Many dishes appear with nuances such as a dark, turmeric-laced banh xeo with a coconut batter and a wealth of inclusions like marinated shrimp, smoked pork belly, and mung-bean puree. Creative banh mi are fit for a picnic at nearby Central Park, and every meal at Banh Vietnamese Shop House is an adventure.

A plate with leafy green lettuce, white rice noodles, a small bowl with dipping sauce, and barbecued pork, sits on a wooden table
Bun cha at Bánh Vietnamese Shop House.
Rachel Vanni/Eater NY

Broadway Diner

Greek diners and their Cuban-Chinese counterparts used to fill the entire length of the Upper West Side’s Broadway like beads on a necklace. Now, few are left. Broadway Diner is one of the old-timers, all cracked formica and stools that twirl along a horseshoe-shaped lunch counter. The breakfasts are especially good, the pancakes, the bulging muffins, and the two-egg breakfasts that come with an expanded choice of meats that includes salami and pastrami shaved thin like bacon, served with mustard. Burgers and sandwiches are exactly what you’d expect.

A breakfast plate with toast, coffee, and fried eggs, with pastrami that looks like bacon.
Two eggs with toast, hash browns, and pastrami sliced and cooked like bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Malecon

Malecon is a venerable Cuban restaurant with overlayerings of Dominican and Puerto Rican food, showing the shifting Latin population of a neighborhood that formed the backdrop for West Side Story. Classic pressed sandwiches, pork and pot roasts, rotisserie and fricasseed chickens, mofongos, and meal-size soups have kept patrons coming for decades to this lively spot.

A soup of white beans, ham, and pig feet.
Caldo gallego is a rib-sticking soup at Malecon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taqueria 86

Named after the year that saw the World Cup being held in Mexico City, Taqueria 86 is a Mexican sports bar with exceedingly comfortable seating and not as many video screens as you might have feared. The 10 taco choices — two to an order, and geographically themed — are nicely turned out using Nixtamal tortillas. The tacos are supplemented with other obvious sports bar snacks, including corn on the cob, guac and chips, flautas, plus burritos, quesadillas, and tortas.

Two beefy tacos on a metal tray with a green checked placemat.
Guadalajara birria tacos from soccer-themed Taqueria 86.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Izzy’s Smokehouse

It started out in Crown Heights in 2016 and eventually established a branch on the Upper West Side — it might also be one of the city’s first kosher Texas-style barbecues. The brisket sandwich — anomalously topped with purple slaw — is a good choice, but then so are the nicely fatty lamb ribs and the beef “dino” ribs. Barbecue tacos, egg rolls, and chimichurri chicken are also available and worth trying.

Brisket sandwich cut in half to show cross section, with purple cabbage slaw above the meat and a layer of pickled slices underneath.
Izzy’s brisket sandwich comes with slaw.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Holy Schnitzel

The roster of UWS kosher choices got a boost with the arrival of this homegrown Brooklyn chain on Amsterdam Avenue, founded by Sivan and Ofeer Benaltaba and now boasting a handful of branches in NYC. The kitchen has perfected the art of cooking breaded chicken cutlets so they become super crisp on the outside while remaining moist in the middle. Several coatings are available (including sesame, panko, and cornflakes), as are several flavors. The non-cutlet items worth ordering include hot dogs, hummus, avocado salad, and potato cigars (pastry flutes oozing spuds).

a breaded cutlet hero sandwich cut in half to show cross section.
How about a chicken schnitzel sandwich for lunch?
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Dagon

Dagon is one of the more buzzy restaurants on the Upper West Side right now. The dining room is loud and airy whether or not the windows facing the sidewalk are open. Grab a seat at the bar and order the mezze collection for $45 — such as the Japanese eggplant confit, marinated beets, Moroccan carrots, chicken liver mousse, labneh, and muhamarra. Don’t miss the breads.

Six plates of vegetables and other mezze on a table at Dagon on the Upper West Side.
Mezze at Dagon includes six selections, such as muhamarra, labneh, and marinated beets.
Melissa McCart

Chick Chick

Early last year, the Upper West Side finally got the Korean fried chicken joint it was hoping for, from BoMee Chu and chef Jun Park. The usual wings, tenders, and sandwiches are available with a choice of flavoring schemes, but a surprise offering is a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich. Other distractions include kimchi fried rice, chicken ramen, and green tea cheesecake.

Sweet gochujang sauce coats large fried chicken piece sitting on a white plate with daikon radish cubes
Fried chicken with gochujang sauce at Chick Chick.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Barney Greengrass

Styling itself as the “Sturgeon King,” this 1908 repository of preserved fish on the Upper West Side is also a fully functional meat deli, with notably normal-sized, rather than overstuffed, sandwiches (pastrami, tongue, turkey, salami, and chopped liver) on rye. There are some crossover favorites too, such as pastrami-cured salmon on a bagel and a tongue omelet.

Pale slices of fish fanned on white butcher paper.
Barney Greengrass’s smoked sturgeon is sublime.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jacob's Pickles

Originally helmed by chefs Glenroy Brown and Harold Villarosa, Jacob’s Pickles appeared 11 years ago. This might be the Upper West Side’s most downtown-feeling restaurant, offering what it describes as “southern comfort food” that includes fried chicken, deviled eggs, gumbo, shrimp and grits, and biscuit-borne sandwiches, most involving bacon. There are a few Jewish flourishes, such as matzoh ball soup and pickles, pickles, and more pickles. Prominent whiskey and craft beer menus also make this a drinking destination.

A tottering heap of ingredients with a metal cup of grits on the side.
The fillings of the Southern BLT include fried chicken, pickle slaw, fried green tomatoes, and bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jin Ramen

Via chef Shuichi Kotani, this unexpectedly great mainstay offers reasonably priced bowls of ramen with a choice of six broths: shio, shoyu, tonkotsu, spicy tonkotsu, miso, and vegetarian. Novelty bowls incorporate Thai green curry paste and Korean kimchi, along with a choice of thin or thick noodles, firmer than usual. Starters include several salads in addition to the usual fried chicken and edamame.

Jin Ramen storefront with two bushes in front.
Jin Ramen is one of a half dozen good ramen parlors on the UWS.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Black Lab Cafe

Kris and Nik Powers and their mother, Lise Evans decided to open a spot that’s for the dogs. Named for their labs, Daisy and Lola, Black Lab Cafe is a coffee shop with treats for people and Fido alike. Look for a menu of coffee and teas, salads, pastries, and sandwiches, as well as a separate dog-friendly menu.

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Nice Matin

This facsimile Parisian brasserie, founded in 2003, is an UWS workhorse, serving French bistro standards to the neighborhood at a brisk pace, and has continued even during the pandemic. A nice moules frites, the Provencal basil soup called pistou, and New York strip steak frites, plus a few Italian-leaning specialties such as risotto and short-rib ravioli.

A heap of shiny pork, including sausages and bacon, in broth.
Nice Matin serves a classic Alsatian choucroute garni.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jing Fong

NYC dim sum staple Jing Fong, owned by Ming Lam and his son Truman Lam, opened its first location nearly 40 years ago in Chinatown and expanded to the Upper West Side in 2017 with a smaller outpost. Now the behemoth Elizabeth Street branch is closed, replaced by a smaller Centre Street manifestation. The UWS branch still hoists the torch high, with a menu that highlights noodles and dim sum, along with a limited collection of classic stir-fries of chicken, pork, and shrimp.

An overhead photograph of two wooden steamer baskets filled with dim sum dishes.
Dim sum service at Jing Fong.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Miriam

Long-running Park Slope restaurant Miriam, which is popular for its brunch, has spun off an Upper West Side branch just as tasty as the original. Eggs are an important focus, including an unusual green shakshuka, featuring masses of mild green chiles, and another centered on a seeded Jerusalem bagel with fixings on the side. Dinners can include a series of small-plate mezze, or larger plates like lamb shanks, whole fish, short ribs, or a novel Mediterranean seafood paella.

A bowl of green stew with eggs on top.
Green shakshuka with labneh and pita at newly opened Miriam.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Charles Pan-Fried Chicken

Since the mid-’80s Charles Gabriel’s celebrated fried chicken has found a variety of homes in Harlem storefronts and trucks, but he has now settled in on the Upper West Side. His new place doesn’t offer seating, but there is an expanded menu of fried chicken, ribs, turkey wings, smothered chicken, and jumbo shrimp — with all the usual soul food sides (the lima beans are particularly good). The secret to the poultry? Gabriel fries his chicken to order in a series of bubbling skillets, resulting in a more evenly cooked bird.

A portly chef dressed in whites, pulling down his mask for the picture.
The legendary Charles Gabriel, skillets in background.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pastrami Queen