Seven Upper East Side Restaurants You Can Actually Afford
These are seven of the pricey neighborhood's best — and less extravagant — dining options.
With its opulent buildings, luxury shopping avenues, and mile of world-class museums, the Upper East Side may be New York City's most polished neighborhood. And to be sure, the restaurants here are just as upscale — and you an easily shell out hundreds on a tasting menu at Kappo Masa ($250 for nine courses) or Daniel ($142 for four courses). But visitors exploring the Upper East Side will find that between the showrooms and palatial duplexes guarded by doormen, there are plenty of more accessible restaurants scattered across this coveted stretch of Manhattan. From traditional Italian pastas to slurp-worthy ramen, these are the seven New York City restaurants redefining the Upper East Side.
You don’t need to head all the way down to Katz’s for the city's famous cured meat: This old school kosher deli serves up hefty over-stuffed pastrami (or corned beef, if you prefer) sandwiches on classic rye, as well as chopped liver, matzo ball soup, and a slew of other Ashkenazi delights just like your bubbe would make them.
This vegetable focused restaurant is an elegant newer addition to Lexington Avenue that offers an a carte dinner menu. Expect New American fare like chilled pea soup with Nantucket Bay Scallops, or a signature dry-aged Angus burger with American cheese and bacon-onion relish that will only set you back $25. Request a table in the back, glass-covered garden for the ultimate uptown ambiance.
One of pasta master Michael White’s multiple New York City restaurants, Ristorante Morini serves up a slew of handmade pastas that won't completely deplete your dining budget. A $75 dinner prix-fixe menu gets you a taste of every course, but come here during lunch to experience an appetizer, entree, and dessert for only $39. Try the simple, yet precise, fresh spaghetti vongole with clams, leeks, and white wine.
If you’re in the mood for something soothing and slurpable, look no further than this chic ramen shop, where you can munch on chicken wings and soft shell crab tempura before diving into a bowl of rich beef broth. Cocktails are also served here, though we're fans of the Japanese-style sodas.
Formerly known as Elaine’s, this literary-themed restaurant remains a neighborhood classic, with a cozy fireplace and book-lined walls that will invite you to settle in for the evening. At the zinc-wrapped bar, order small bites like house-whipped ricotta and smoked white fish with caviar.
This dim-lit, 10-table Italian restaurant serves up instant romance, even if your only lover for the evening will be a heaping plate of homemade pappardelle alla Bolognese. Cell phones are not allowed in the tiny dining room, which either forces you to focus on the rustic pasta dishes in front of you or, more likely, to protect the restaurant's regular celeb clientele (Tom Cruise and Jerry Seinfeld, for example).
This sibling restaurant to Brooklyn favorite El Artoradero specializes in South of the Border seafood, with plenty of festive margaritas and beach-themed drinks. After a steamed shrimp bucket or round of oysters from the raw bar, order a round of tacos filled with fish, pork belly, shredded chipotle chicken, or sautéed mushrooms to complement whatever fruity blended drink you’re sipping.