The 10 Best Restaurants on the Upper West Side
Dovetail / Zachary Feldman
The Mary-Kate Olsen to the Upper East Side's Ashley, the Upper West Side, labeled a dining wasteland, has long shivered under a cloud of misunderstanding. And while it's impossible to ignore the massive uptick in real estate development and mallification the area's undergone, the neighborhood's options have expanded to include some truly creative eating. As the numerous Chino-Latino restaurants that once dotted this landscape have faded away, many of the new outfits setting up shop are either popular local mini-chains, like Xi'an Famous Foods and the Meatball Shop, or concepts that would otherwise do well downtown. Like so many of New York's rapidly changing puzzle pieces, it's a mix of satisfying stalwarts and glossy newcomers. Here are the 10 best restaurants in the neighborhood.
10. Sura Thai, (2656 Broadway, 212-665-8888) Three years ago, Joey Phadungsil came on to overhaul the menu at this modern Upper West Side Thai restaurant, and she installed a broad range of regional specialties from both northern and southern Thailand. Her fragrant blue crab fried rice, though, is our repeat order. Swaddled in a banana leaf, a heap of fresh crab sits over eggy fried rice, its brininess imbuing the grains with salty sweetness. Lunch specials are particularly inspired, including diced chicken with chile garlic sauce, Thai basil, and a fried egg. Embracing the neighborhood, Phadungsil has even put together serious brunch plates like Thai crepes stuffed with duck confit and Thai-style fried chicken over french toast.
9. Awadh, (2588 Broadway, 646-861-3604) Awadh, a smartly appointed restaurant from chef/owner Gaurav Anand of the celebrated Mughlai restaurant Moti Mahal Delux, champions North Indian cooking. Most impressive are the slow-simmered "dum pukht" dishes, made famous in the city of Lucknow, which have found a home in the bi-level dining room. Some of the chef's greatest hits, like sublimely moist cream-cheese-marinated murgh tikka chicken, make an appearance, but coconut shrimp curry and lamb biryani cooked in a handi (a squat Indian crockpot) showcase the regional style best. Anand installed ex-Daniel sommelier John Slover to consult on a European-heavy wine list of varietals robust enough to stand up to such intense flavors.
8. Gray's Papaya, (2090 Broadway, 212-799-0243) The sole remaining location of a cultish, legendary New York hot dog chain — and an offshoot of Upper East Side original Papaya King (which opened in 1932) — this 24-hour fast-food mecca serves a tremendous tube steak. Mustard and sauerkraut's our go-to, though everything from chili, cheese, and tomato-spiked onion sauces are available. The eponymous papaya drink has a beguiling, almost generically "tropical" flavor, though it's hard to pass up, thanks to nostalgia. Forget white truffles and Barolo, a snappy Gray's Papaya frankfurter with a frothy papaya juice is the city's true food and beverage pairing.Next Page
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