The Uptown Finale: A Grubhub Guide to the UWS

As every New Yorker knows, restaurants are a vital part of any neighborhood. One of the best parts of living here is the vast array of places we have to eat on any given night, even during a global pandemic.

Now that we’re deep into summer and the city’s back open in a way that seemed almost unfathomable not so long ago, New Yorkers can keep the feeling alive with a great meal, made with love, delivered directly to our homes with Grubhub! Plus, diners can donate the change and round up their orders to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to the Restaurant Strong Fund to support local restaurants impacted by the pandemic. It’s the most delicious way to support your local favorites or try something new.

Gothamist and Grubhub are teaming up to celebrate amazing restaurants that, whether they’re a few blocks from your place or a bike ride away, are NYC favorites that we think you’ll love too. Next up: the UWS.

Sandwiched between two of the city’s most beloved parks–the magnificent Central Park, of course, but also Riverside Park, with its Hudson River views and gracious promenade–the Upper West Side has long been coveted as one of the city’s best neighborhoods for raising a family… or, really, for doing just about anything else with your life.

There are all those gorgeous pre-war residential buildings, some slick new developments, lots of lovely blocks lined with brownstones, world class cultural offerings, and plenty of places all up and down the avenues where you can get great things to eat.

Almost every imaginable type of cuisine and craving is covered somewhere in the sprawling neighborhood, which stretches from Columbus Circle to Columbia University, including lots of exciting newer openings as well as old-school spots holding it down through all the changes over the decades–and those have been considerable since the late 1970s–and navigating the many challenges of our current pandemic era.

It’s impossible to cover every restaurant worth trying on the Upper West Side in a single list, but here’s a look at some of our current favorites and go-tos, all of which make for a first-rate meal in the comfort of your home with delivery via Grubhub. It’s a safe, easy way to support your locals as restaurants everywhere in NYC continue to grapple with the ever-changing realities of the pandemic.

fuchsia outdoor seating area outside of chick chick restaurant

Chick Chick

Newly opened last spring on the corner of Amsterdam and 90th Street, Chick Chick is chef and owner Jun Park’s glorious celebration of his two favorite foods, fried chicken and ramen. There are three different kinds of the former here: Park’s signature KSG, or Korean Sweet Gochujang; his take on Nashville Hot Chicken, which he drizzles with white sauce; and Crispy Chicken, extra-crackling on the outside and somehow still juicy within. You can get these in sandwiches, as a whole mess of wings, as boneless tenders, or as a whole or half bird. The chicken ramen is just as good, too, and the Kimchi Fried Rice with chicken sausage crumbles makes for an excellent side. A terrific addition to the neighborhood.

For a more old-school chicken dinner, look no further than the flame-grilled birds of Chirping Chicken, which has been feeding the Upper West Side since 1982. They have two locations up here now, too, the original on Amsterdam and a newer model up a bit on Columbus. And the Peruvian-style roasted birds at Flor de Mayo, also with two locations in the neighborhood and always improved by a lot of hot sauce and a mound of black beans and yellow rice.

Chick Chick is located at 618 Amsterdam Avenue — Order Now

cross section of pastrami sandwich next to green pickle

Pastrami Queen

The Upper West Side has long been known for having some of the city’s best Jewish delis and appetizing spots. But newcomers to the area are also always welcome, especially when they’re as good as Pastrami Queen, which opened on 72nd Street at the end of last year. Not that Pastrami Queen itself is new–the place can trace its provenance back to Queens in 1956–but we were definitely excited when it took over Fine and Shapiro’s longtime home after that venerable deli shuttered due to the pandemic. Anyway, the namesake smoked meat here is superb, and there are plenty of other jaw-stretching sandwiches to get as well, and the soups and sides make for fine accompaniments.

If you’re more in the mood for a bagels-and-lox type situation, Murray’s Sturgeon on Broadway has been making people happy with their wide variety of smoked fish since 1946 (the sturgeon here is worthy of its titular appearance), and Zucker’s Bagels on Columbus is a solid choice for all kinds of eggy, fishy, or meaty bagel sandwiches and cream cheese spreads.

Pastrami Queen is located at 138 West 72nd Street — Order Now

teal outdoor seating area with diners enjoying food

El Mitote

We’re always tempted to call El Mitote, which specializes in dishes from owner Christina Castaneda’s hometown of Guadalajara, a hidden gem, mostly because we never really hear much about it in the city’s wider food-obsessed circles. And yet, the lively, festively-decorated place nearish Lincoln Center (and very near the big AMC Lincoln Square movie theater) is always packed with locals during prime times, so clearly it’s not “hidden” from them. The Tacos, Quesadillas, and Burritos are all great, packed with fresh ingredients and loaded with big flavors, and the more composed “Comida Corrida” platters starring things like carnitas, or chipotle garlic shrimp, or wild mushroom tinga, are also deeply satisfying. And if you order delivery via Grubhub, you don’t have to wait for a table!

There are tons of other good Mexican spots around these parts as well, including Noche Mexicana up on Amsterdam and 101st Street (the Queso Fundido Burrito is a delicious cheese bomb), and Tacombi, the taco-party spot near 78th Street that’s one of ten locations of the fast-growing chain and always sends out reliably good Yucatan beach classics.

El Mitote is located at 208 Columbus Avenue — Order Now

outside tom's restaurant with neon sign lit at night

Tom’s Restaurant

Like all self-respecting New Yorkers, Upper West Side residents love their diners, and each little micro-community in the neighborhood seems to have their favorites, classic spots that keep hanging in even as so many other such restaurants across the city are closing. Decades ago, Tom’s up on 112th and Broadway was a frequent a late-night go-to, before first Suzanne Vega and then Seinfeld made the place a cultural icon. And a recent revisit showed that, despite some sprucing up for the tourists, Tom’s still rocks one of those massive diner menus, standards like the Cheeseburger Platter and Corned Beef Hash remain solid choices, and, whether dining in or ordering for delivery via Grubhub, you can feel good about yourself by supporting a local legend.

Other diners and diner-like spots abound on the UWS, including The Viand Cafe with locations on both Broadway near 75th and Columbus a half-mile uptown, and City Diner farther up on Broadway at 90th Street (the Tuna Melt is a good move here, if you’re in the mood), and going up another ten blocks or so, Metro Diner, which, among its other claims, presides over the ground floor of one of Manhattan’s rare wooden buildings.

Tom’s is located at 2880 Broadway — Order Now

diners sitting at tables outside moonrise izakaya

Moonrise Izakaya

If you’ve walked by the corner of 98th and Amsterdam at any time since about October of 2019, you’ve definitely noticed Moonrise Izakaya, thanks to the Japanese muralist Shiro covering just about every inch of the place, inside and out, with her signature manga-style characters. It’s fun and exciting to be sure, especially in a neighborhood which usually vibes toward a more safe, family-friendly style, but you should know that real appeal here is the food, which includes such memorable bangers as gooey Cheese Corn, crisp Monkfish Kaarage, hefty Katsu Sandos, fiery Mapo Tofu, and lively Avocado Bombs, all of which you can get delivered to your home via Grubhub. Just spray paint your apartment and dig in for the portable Moonrise experience. If you’re craving a more ramen-based Japanese feast, Jin Ramen, with locations on both Amsterdam at 82nd and on Broadway near the Harlem border, has some of the neighborhood’s best bowls of noodles (the Spicy Tonkotsu is our favorite), and Naruto Ramen on Broadway is also a solid choice.

Moonrise Izakaya is located at 774 Amsterdam Avenue — Order Now

people in busy dining room of jacob's pickles

Jacob’s Pickles

We can’t think of another Upper West Side restaurant that ever became such an instant hit and, if anything, has increased its popularity some ten years after first opening, as Jacob’s Pickles on Amsterdam near 85th Street. Part of that has to do with lively atmosphere and warm hospitality, but most of the success of Jacob’s Pickles can be attributed to the food, which specializes in huge portions of comforting delights like Biscuit French Toast, Shrimp and Bacon Grits, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, and the superb Patty Melt. Really, the only downside here is how hard it can be to get a table, so sometimes it’s better to just order this stuff via Grubhub and relax at home.

Jacob’s Pickles has a couple of spinoffs, too, including Tiki Chick located almost right next door (get the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich and the delicious Spam and Cheese with “pink wave sauce”), and the slightly fancier Maison Pickle over on Broadway which, among its many strengths, offers one of the best French Dip sandwiches in town. If you’re closer to Lincoln Center, The Smith has a similarly crowd-pleasing menu, which includes a massive, first-rate burger-and-fries platter.

Jacob’s Pickles is located at 509 Amsterdam Avenue — Order Now

street view with pedestrians walking by gray's papaya

Gray’s Papaya

Gray’s Papaya has always been a welcome–and welcoming–fixture on one of the neighborhood’s busiest corners since the 1970s, and slinging some of NYC’s best hot dogs, “for when you’re hungry, or broke, or just in a hurry,” as the slogan goes. And with the seemingly never-ending “Recession Special” still in place after all these years, you can get three dogs and drink for under ten bucks. Just remember to tip your Grubhub delivery person well! And here’s hoping Gray’s sticks around for another 50 years or so…

For a different kind of diet staple, the Shake Shack on Columbus Avenue, right near the Museum of Natural History, serves reliably good burgers (the SmokeShack, with bacon and cherry peppers, is my usual) and sweet, thick shakes. And for pizza we’re going to give a shout to Koronet up near Columbia, for those monster-sized slices wolfed down on many, many late-nights.

Gray’s Papaya is located at 2090 Broadway — Order Now

As more restaurants have opened up throughout the city, New Yorkers can keep supporting these institutions by exploring new spots or ordering their favorite meals with Grubhub. Consider supporting a neighborhood business and treat yourself to some delicious food delivered right to your door!

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