Omar at Vaucluse
Vibe: Omar Hernandez, a Venezuelan native who runs the Greenwich Village supper club Omar’s, brought his vivacious downtown energy to the bar and upstairs dining room of Michael White’s French restaurant. “I want to bring more fun to the Upper East Side,” Hernandez told the New York Times in advance of the restaurant’s opening. “It’s having a revival, and I want to be part of that.” Unlike anything else in the neighborhood, the candlelit dining room features a disco ball and live music (check the schedule here).
Standout Dishes: Chicken Tagine, Spaghetti Carbonara, White Label Burger
100 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues); email@example.com; omaratvaucluse.com
Vibe: Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten gave his first restaurant his own childhood nickname when he opened it in 1991. Located on the ground and parlor floors of a townhouse, the restaurant got a major design revamp and reopened in late 2017. The dark decor was traded in for pale parquet floors and brick whitewashed walls, and the farm-to-table menu includes mostly organic and local ingredients.
Standout Dishes: Peekytoe Crab Dumplings, Marinated Charred Duck Breast, Passion Fruit Pavlova
160 East 64th Street (between Lexington and Third Avenues); 212-223-5656; jojorestaurantnyc.com
Palais by Perfect Pie
Vibe: Former White House Pasty Chef Bill Yosses worked for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who declared, “Whatever pie you like, he will make it and it will be the best pie you have ever eaten.” Upper East Siders are lucky, as Yosses recently opened this all-day, French-inspired café near the corner of 63rd and Lexington. The pastries and desserts—many of which are displayed in a case near the front door—are the stars of the show, but you can’t go wrong with the savory menu items either.
Standout Dishes: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Duck Breast, Pies
134 East 61st Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues); 212-410-3262; perfectpie.com
Vibe: An homage to the late Italian-American actor Rudolph Valentino, Il Divo is an outpost of restaurateur Antonio Sinesi’s Al Valentino in Milan, which has been open for 15 years. Photographs of Valentino line the walls of the intimate space, which features white-tablecloth tables and wallpaper by Ralph Lauren.
Standout Dishes: Hamachi Carpaccio alla Pizzaiola, Cavatelli with Octopus Genovese Ragout, “Acqua Pazza” Codfish, and Caprese Chocolate Ice Cream
1347 Second Avenue (at the corner of East 71st Street); 212-380-8164; ildivo.restaurant
Avra Madison Estiatorio
Vibe: This buzzy offshoot of Greek hotspot Avra offers a selection of 30 different fish flown in daily from around the world and caters to regulars like Tony Bennett, Laura Dern, and Ronald Lauder.
Standout Dishes: Grilled Octopus, Greek Salad, Fish by the pound such as Fagri or Lithrini
14 East 60th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues); 212-937-0100; avrany.com
Vibe: In the space next door to Avra Madison is this temple to roast chicken and other classic dishes. The space, helmed by former Daniel Boulud public relations honcho Georgette Farkas, attracts a well-heeled, elegant crowd including shoppers stopping in for a repast after visiting Barneys across the street.
Standout Dishes: Salade G, Poulet Rôti, Poule de Luxe, Rôtisserie Potatoes
14 East 60th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues); 212-390-8060; rotisserieg.com
Vibe: This charming neighborhood spot relocated from the West Village, where it was a beloved fixture on Bleecker Street. The Upper East Side crowd took a liking to it early on—with good reason. It’s the kind of place one wants to return to night after night.
Standout Dishes: Cauliflower Risotto, Roasted Organic Chicken, Braised Short Ribs with Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts
791 Lexington Avenue (between 61st and 62nd Streets); 212-935-1433; augustny.com
Vibe: This collaboration between chef Masayoshi Takayama and gallery owner Larry Gagosian is in the same building as Gagosian’s UES gallery, so you can be sure to see art world machers who don’t mind paying a pretty penny for Takayama’s Japanese cuisine. (The chef’s main restaurant, Masa, in the Time Warner Center, is the most expensive restaurant in New York City.)
Standout Dishes: Baby Dancing Shrimp, Sizzling Grilled Octopus
976 Madison Avenue (between 76th and 77th Streets); 212- 906-7141; kappomasanyc.com
Vibe: The third Boqueria to open in NYC, this buzzy Spanish tapas bar attracts a chic crowd that resembles that of its downtown locations.
Standout Dishes: Cojonudo (fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast), Pulpo a la Gallega (grilled octopus, picual olive oil mashed potatoes, fennel, smoked pimentón)
1460 2nd Avenue (between 76th and 77th Streets); 212-343-2227; boquerianyc.com
Vibe: Chef Michael White made a name for himself with Marea, his paean to Italian seafood on NYC’s Columbus Circle. After a series of subsequent hits, White opened Vaucluse, his first foray into French cuisine. Here, White and his business partner Ahmass Fakahany have created a neighborhood restaurant for a clientele that has craved an elegant French brasserie since the shuttering of La Goulue. The updated classic French dishes alone make the restaurant well worth a visit—if you can snag a table.
Standout Dishes: Foie Gras Poêlé, Lobster Raviolo, Duck à l’Orange (for two), White Label Burger
What to Drink: Among the cocktails, the Le Diplomate (Old Forrester bourbon, Lillet Blanc, and elderflower liqueur) is a standout, especially for its flower garnish. The wine offerings are mostly French, but a special selection of 300 French-influenced bottles made by American producers (half of which are under $100) is an attractive option.
100 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues); 646-869-2300; vauclusenyc.com
The East Pole Fish Bar
Vibe: This eatery opened in early November from Tom and Anthony Martignetti, who also own the aforementioned Pizza Beach and The East Pole. It replaced Cafe Americano, the brothers’ ode to Italy, after theapproved a permit for a gas kitchen in the rear of the building. The restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight, and for brunch on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a focus on local fish and seafood dishes.
Standout Dishes: Fried Oyster Sliders, Lobster Burger, Grilled Striped Bass
What to Drink: Try one of the natural white wines.
964 Lexington Avenue (between 70th and 71st Streets); 646-870-9007; theeastpolefishbar.com
Vibe: New Yorkers know the name Eli Zabar from his high-end markets around the city and in the Hamptons. His charming full-service restaurant features a menu that changes with the seasons.
Standout Dishes: Dry Aged Steak for Two & Hand Cut Pommes Frites, Eli’s Rooftop Greens with Banyuls Vinaigrette (sourced from his rooftop greenhouse on York Ave)
What to Drink: Choose from among the wine cellar’s more than 22,000 bottles; the list focuses heavily on Burgundy and Piedmont.
1413 Third Avenue (between 80th and 81st Streets); 212-717-9798; elistablenyc.com
Vibe: Forget just the Upper East Side—Flora Bar is one of the top critics’ darlings in all of New York City. The restaurant received two- and three-star reviews from Pete Wells at the New York Times and Adam Platt at New York magazine, respectively. That perhaps should not come as a surprise considering how beloved restaurateur Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos’s original spot downtown, Estela, is. Here, the duo has infused the museum cafe downstairs at the Met Breuer with new energy and some of the best seafood in town. And for fall 2017, Flora Bar has extended its hours on both Saturday and Sunday and added dishes like an Egg and Cheese Sandwich with tomato chutney to its brunch menu (be sure to request a table in the outdoor garden when it’s open).
Standout Dishes: Blue Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce, Lobster Crudo, Steak with Beets and Béarnaise, Rutabaga and Raclette Tart, Chocolate Parfait with Amarena Cherries
What to Drink: Tuxedo # 2 Cocktail and pretty much anything from the very comprehensive wine list
945 Madison Avenue; 646-558-5383; florabarnyc.com
David Burke Tavern
Vibe: Chef David Burke transformed his former restaurant Fishtail into David Burke Tavern, a neighborhood spot focused on elevated pub fare. The modern American tavern features a lounge and main dining room along with private event spaces that include an intimate “salt room” whose walls are lined with Himalayan salt bricks (a nod to the Himalayan pink salt slabs on which Burke cooks some of the dishes to give them extra flavor). There is also a newly opened chef’s studio decorated with some of Burke’s favorite pieces of art. The space includes two long, rectangular tables that seat up to 15 guests and provide the setting for Burke’s monthly wine dinners.
Standout Dishes: “Clothesline” Candied Bacon, Duck, Duck, Duck (duck prepared three ways), Cheesecake Lollipop Tree
What to Drink: Try the OOlongIsland Iced Tea, served in a mason jar.
135 East 62nd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues); 212-988-9021; davidburketavern.com
Vibe: Oath Pizza began as a fast-casual concept on Nantucket and quickly gained acclaim for grilled thin-crust pies that are seared in avocado oil and topped with ethically sourced, all-natural ingredients (it’s the first pizza to receive the Certified Humane seal of approval). The Upper East Side location, its first in New York City, is bright, airy, and features an extra-friendly staff.
Standout Dishes: The “Bella,” shown here, is made with mozzarella, ricotta, and Grana Padano cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic, balsamic drizzle, and fresh basil. Also try a seasonal special like The “Reuben,” which includes pastrami and sauerkraut from Dicksons Farmstand Meats.
1140 Third Avenue (between 66th and 67th Streets); 212-988-4300; oathpizza.com
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