The Upper West Side is rich in culture, dining and shopping, home to the grand expanse known as Central Park and also home to A-list celebrities that range from Madonna to Yoko Ono to Jerry Seinfeld.
In the summer, you can throw a Frisbee or catch an outdoor concert or Shakespearean play in Central Park; in the winter, you can ice-skate on Wollman Rink or take a cozy horse-drawn carriage ride.
Restaurants and cafés are plentiful, as are museums, shops and boutiques. This is also one of the city’s most coveted residential neighborhoods, famous for its historic brownstones and spacious, pre-war apartments with high ceilings, gleaming wood floors and often, spectacular views. If you are visiting NYC, you don’t want to leave town without checking out this friendly, handsome and culturally-rich neighborhood.
Dining: The Best Restaurants on the Upper West Side
If you are going to have a meal on the Upper West Side, you don’t want to rush it: If you need to do something fast, though, there are plenty of food carts selling everything from NYC hot dogs to kabobs, pretzels and more.
As far as sit-in dining, though, the mix of eateries features international flavors and markedly distinct environs.
At RedFarm, a rustic locavore/modern Chinese restaurant, you can feast on dim sum dishes and mains such as lobster with chopped pork and egg and mussels with eggplant and okra.
Storico’s Venice-inspired Italian cuisine is a treat, as it sits on the main floor of the prestigious New-York Historical Society; its elegant white-and-yellow decor serves as a fine backdrop to inventive dishes that include fried rabbit, whole brook trout and a variety of spectacular housemade pastas; prix fixe menus are also available.
A.G. Kitchen’s modern takes on Latin classics is enjoyed in a cheery atmosphere—and, if you were wild about any particular dish, you might find it under the recipe tab of the restaurant’s website.
Finally to The West 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe’s elevated, affordable American cuisine with spectacular views overlooking the Hudson River.
Classic Shopping on the Upper West Side
A visit to Zabar’s is a must for its kosher deli meats, bagels and smoked fish. The family-owned business has been selling gourmet foodstuffs, including coffee, lox, baked goods and pastas, since 1934. Grab a seat by the window—if you can—order an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox and a large cup of coffee and enjoy breakfast the way dozens of New Yorkers do, people-watching and eating what is arguably the best bagel breakfast in town.
On Sundays, visit the city’s largest curated weekly market of local art, antiques, jewelry and food at Grand Bazaar NYC. This year-round indoor/outdoor market is the largest in the city with over 200 vendors at peak season. Each vendor sells one-of-a-kind, rare and limited edition merchandise. Thousands of visitors stroll through rows of independent antique and vintage dealers, artists, designers, craft makers and tasty artisanal food vendors. The bazaar also donates a large share of of its profits to local public schools.
Where to Drink on the Upper West Side
Both members and nonmembers are welcome at the Manhattan Cricket Club, an homage to British gentlemen’s clubs. Located upstairs from the Australian eatery Burke & Wills, the cocktail lounge is decked out with ornate carpets, gleaming mahogany and even a library: Pull up one of the handsome gold-brocade or red leather chairs and nurse a cocktail while you peruse a literary masterpiece.
Speaking of books, the cozy Irish pub The Dead Poet is a literary-themed space as well that loans books, pours a good pint of Guinness, has a good variety of Irish whiskeys and a jukebox filled with pop tunes.
At the NYLO Hotel, you can enjoy themed movie-cocktail nights along with an impressive list of craft cocktails, wine and beer.
Things to Do on the Upper West Side
The Beacon Theatre concert hall, opened in 1929; these days it offers great pop concerts and lectures, from Jerry Seinfeld’s brilliant stand-up to a variety of pop artists and bands including The Rolling Stones, James Taylor and Queen.
The American Museum of Natural History explores the history of humans and the natural world: Some of its outstanding exhibits include the 94-foot fiberglass blue whale in the Hall of Biodiversity; the lifelike dioramas in the North American and African Mammals Halls; the Chinese Wedding Chair in the Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples; and of course, Tyrannosaurus rex, in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs. At 65 million years old, the fossilized bones of the original thunder thighs are arranged in a walking position.
East of the museum, Central Park’s bike paths, Strawberry Fields—an area of the park devoted to the late Beatle, John Lennon, who was slain in front of his apartment, the Dakota, across the street from the park—and Belvedere Castle, beckon.