Life in NYC

Favorite Restaurants We’ve Tried in UWS

This post is so overdue but I finally decided to round up a list of my favorite restaurants in our neighborhood, Upper West Side. If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhoods of Manhattan, the Upper West Side (or UWS) is on the west of Central Park. It’s where we currently live and we love it. Just to give you a quick overview of when we moved here… we moved to NYC back in February of 2020 from Raleigh, North Carolina. We had about 2 weeks of normalcy in New York until everything changed due to COVID. So, for a while there, we only did takeout. Then as cases lowered throughout the summer, outdoor dining opened up. Indoor dining opened for a tiny bit in the fall but now it’s back to outdoor dining and takeout only. We really try to support the restaurants in our community as often as we can because they’ve gone through a ton this last year and the last thing I want is for one of our favorites to close permanently. Plus, they’ve put in place a ton of safety precautions and it has felt very safe as a result.

Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in the UWS:

The Mermaid Inn

  • A must try for seafood lovers but they have other options too.
  • Make a reservation for their happy hour between 4:30-6:30 (their happy hour menu is to die for). I prefer the HH menu because you can sample a bunch of food in smaller portions.
  • What I order: mini lobster roll, mini fish taco, THE ROLLS, $1 oysters, mac’n cheese, mini shrimp slider, shrimp cocktail, honestly everything.
  • Tip: They take walk-in’s for the first hour of Saturday’s happy hour. Get there right at 4:30 to ensure a table with out a reservation.
  • Their outdoor dining set-up is also 10/10… we’ve sat out there in 30 degrees and felt comfortable.

Lokal Mediterranean Kitchen

  • When I’m in the mood for Greek food, this is our go-to… and it’s probably our most frequently ordered takeout spot. Although the food ranges from Greek to Turkish to American.
  • What I Order: Greek salad (it is massive, so refreshing, and is topped with a gigantic piece of delicious feta), Chicken Shish (we typically split both of these entrees), rice, an occasional baklava dessert.


  • Cotta was our summertime spot when we were in the mood for Italian/pizza/small plates.
  • What We Order: Rucola Pizza, Ceasar salad, meatballs.
  • Really nice outdoor dining setup but also a frequent takeout choice.


  • Another favorite Italian restaurant up on 98th and Broadway.
  • What I Order: Zucchini Fries, Fettuccini Allo Zafferano Con Vegetali (Saffron fettuccine with Chiodini mushrooms, sweet peas, cream and pecorino cheese), Gnocchi Tricolore (a potato sampler gnocchi: pesto sauce, cacio e pepe, tomato and mozzarella).
  • We’ve only ordered takeout from here (and directly from their website).


  • NOT our favorite sushi in NYC but our favorite we’ve tried in the UWS for sure. (Our favorite in all of NYC is Yama Ramen near Rockefeller Plaza).
  • We keep it simple and order: Philadelphia rolls (I add roe… I promise it tastes better with it somehow), Spicy Tuna Rolls (for TJ), edamame, miso soup/salad.

Viand Diner and Bar

  • Not to be confused with Viand Cafe… which I have never tried before.
  • Viand has everything and is great for the times you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for. I’ve had salads, burgers, omelettes, and more.

West End Taqueria

  • This is low key our favorite Mexican takeout option.
  • We’ll often split the chicken burrito for lunch. I also like their chips and guac.
  • I’ve only done takeout and have no idea what their restaurant looks like. I don’t even think they have a website.

Jacob’s Pickles

  • Perfect for when we’re in the mood for southern comfort food.
  • What we order: honestly, everything I’ve tried there is good but I’m a big fan of their biscuits and maple butter. I also love the deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, shrimp and grits.

Playa Betty’s

  • They describe this restaurant as serving “California-style beach food”.
  • What I order: The Totchos (tater tots covered with pico de gallo, cheese, delicous-ness, Baja Fish Taco. I also love their queso/guac/chips.

Lenny’s Bagels

  • This is our favorite bagel spot hands down. We’ve tried several and, in our opinion, this one continues to be our favorite.
  • What I order: everything bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese.

If you have a suggestion that isn’t listed, let me know! I’d love to add it to my list of ones to try in the neighborhood.

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4 thoughts on “Favorite Restaurants We’ve Tried in UWS

  1. I’m saving this list! We LOVE the upper west side!! When we travel to NYC we always, always, always go to Fred’s on Amsterdam and 83rd. They had a fire last year, so they might only be takeout right now. Bring a framed pic of your dog if you go, to add to their wall

  2. For a treat yourself moment, RedFarm. Drinks at Owl’s Tail. And for an almond croissant- Margot Patisserie. Enjoy it all!

  3. Hi! I love your website!

    I also live on the UWS and the Mermaid Inn and Jacob’s Pickles are some of my favorite spots. You MUST try Maison Pickle (Jacob’s sister restaurant, delicious French-inspired food), Tenzan (great, fresh sushi), Nice Matin (French restaurant), Coppola’s (great Italian restaurant), Motorino (great pizza), Spice (pretty good Thai, great lunch special prices), Levain bakery, Alice’s Tea Cup (great tea, great brunch), Jacque Torres (to-die-for chocolate cookies that they heat up for you on site), and Blondie’s (touted as the some of the best wings in the City, though I personally don’t love them).

    Welcome (belatedly) to the neighborhood!

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