Upper West Side's Best Restaurants

If a city is too big or imposing to tackle on the dining front, break it down into more manageable sections. Or, if you're staying in a certain neighborhood, confine your culinary adventures to the immediate area. New York is a great example. Its options are astounding in total, but focus on the Upper West Side's Best, and you've got a plan. This district delivers plenty of possibilities, from Per Se, where you'll likely run into lots of eager patrons, to Kefi, which folks talk up frequently to friends and colleagues.

10 Jean Georges
Spare and sleek, this modern dining room provides the perfect backdrop for truly perfect food. New French cuisine is served up in exciting ways that feature exotic spices and herbs. The prix fixe menus include such delectables as freshly carved meats, caviar and tasty soups like the young garlic soup with thyme and sauteed frog legs. TRAIN: A, C, B, D, 1, 9 to 59th St-Columbus Cir (212-299-3900, 212-356-0688)

9 Picholine
If you love wine and cheese as much as the Europeans do, then this small, elegant restaurant should be your next dinner stop. Picholine prides itself on the extensive cheese tray and wine list it offers, and the cuisine centers around the tastes of the Mediterranean region (particularly France). Pastas, breads, fish and meats make up the perfectly-seasoned selections you'll find here. Theater attendees flock here for pre- and post- show eats. Also great for lunch, as the crowds are smaller. TRAIN: 1, 9 to 66th St-Lincoln Center (212-724-8585, 212-501-7457)

8 Ouest
American cuisine with a contemporary twist: That is what Tom Valenti delivers at his west-of-the-park gem thanks to devilish creations like sautéed skate with Yukon potato puree, pan-roasted squab with Johnny cake and smoked onions, and braised short ribs with Israeli couscous. Intimate and a touch clubby, the dining room features circular red leather booths in the center and long and cushy banquettes along the walls, allowing patrons a certain degree of privacy even when the restaurant is packed. TRAIN: 1, 9 to 86 St (212-580-8700)

7 Asiate
Located in the suave, sophisticated Mandarin Oriental, this dramatically appointed restaurant takes the creative energy of noted designer Tony Chi and partners it with views of New York skyline. The restaurant's design is centered on an illuminated sculpture that extends over the dining room like a long, translucent tree branch — at night, the scene's quite spectacular. Transcendence is confirmed once diners have sampled the French and Japanese-inspired fare, an artistic array of dishes ranging from lobster tangine with black mussels and saffron-Brooklyn Pilsner broth to Caesar salad soup with bacon foam. Three-course prix fixe, $85; tasting menu, $125. TRAIN: 1, 2, 3, A, B, C, D to Columbus Cir (212-805-8881)

6 Masa
Owner-Chef Masayoshi Takayama has set the bar at near-unreachable heights with this exclusive restaurant on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center. The fare, of course is outstanding, and those who appreciate the finer things will no doubt be tempted to saddle up to the bar and savor the pre fixe (priced $400-600). Sometimes prepared by Takayama himself, the affair is highlighted by what some critics deem NYC's top foie gras. Less deep pockets (and folks who didn't make reservations the suggested month in advance) can vie for spots along the Bubbinga plank at neighboring Bar Masa. The outstanding sushi is à la carte, the cocktails are sublime, and the choices of sake number 18. TRAIN: A, B, C, D, 1, 9 to Columbus Cir (212-823-9800)

5 Per Se
Roundly lauded for its fabulous Central Park views, this Columbus Circle treasure serves French-influenced American cuisine that matches, stride-for-stride, the magic of Napa's French Laundry. In fact, Per Se takes nods from its West Coast sibling in several regards, from the signature blue door entrance to the elegant but understated decor. What's more, each embraces Owner-Chef Thomas Keller's proven hands-on approach, and at Per Se this means that all the three prix fixe menus are determined daily. Reservations, a must, are accepted two months in advance. TRAIN: A, B, C, D, 1, 9 to Columbus Cir (212-823-9335)

4 Telepan
New American chef par excellence, Bill Telepan opened this fashionable dining room on West 69th in the winter of 2005, and in the time since it has enjoyed no shortage of critical acclaim. The reason for this is simplicity — that is, Telepan has a knack for molding basic, familiar ingredients in ways that amaze the palate. The menu changes seasonally, with representative dishes including dry-aged sirloin with short-rib hash, monkfish with lobster-corn sauce, and seared duck breast with apricots, black and gold rice, and baby turnips. Several prix fixe and tasting options are available for those wanting a truer brush with fine gastronomy. (212-580-4300)

3 Kefi
Gone is the haute Greek cuisine of Onera — in its place is this family-run neighborhood taverna that's drawn rave reviews all around. Indeed, en lieu of the raw fish and fancy tablecloths that were Onera's calling card, the owners have opted for familiar, time-tested classics like moussaka, spanakopita, and grilled octopus. Be sure to couple your meal with a bottle from their selection of Greek wines, most of them very reasonably priced. (212-873-0200, 212-873-0205)

2 Gari
The minimalist-inspired West 70s outpost of Chef Gari Sugio's awesome sushi enterprise, his place on Columbus Avenue has garnered a cult-like following all its own. Indeed, like at the cross-town original, Gari's signature sushi and sashimi omakases are sure to impress with their artistic presentations and, more importantly, evocative sampling of flavors. And if sushi's not your thing, don't let that keep you away — Chef Sugio's menu also includes several succulent beef and chicken courses. TRAIN: 1 to 79th St; B, C to 8st St-Museum of Natural History (212-362-4816)

1 Bar Boulud
Daniel Boulud's visionary approach to casual dining takes off once again - this time at Bar Boulud. Rustically-inspired and -sourced ingredients combine for mouth-watering creations that belie their peasant roots. Expect fare such as sauteed Atlantic skate paired with Belgian endive and Yukon gold potatoes, or dayboat scallops served with stone-ground polenta, serrano ham, and onion compote. A long, vaulted dining room with a rough-hewn stone floor evokes traditional wine cellars, completing the rustic atmosphere. (212-595-0303)


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Maps and Directions

1
Jean Georges 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, European, French, Fusion
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Catering, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Pastry Chef
Neighborhood: Midtown West
COST: $$$$
2
Picholine 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Counter Seating, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Sommelier, Wine Cellar
Cuisine: European, French, Mediterranean
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
COST: $$$
3
Ouest 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
COST: $$$
4
Asiate 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, European, French, Japanese
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Non-Smoking, Sommelier
Neighborhood: Midtown West
COST: $$$
5
Masa 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese, Sushi
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
COST: $$$$
6
Per Se 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, French, New American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Catering, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Pastry Chef, Sommelier, Wine Cellar
COST: $$$$
7
Telepan 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Pastry Chef, Sommelier, Wine Cellar
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
COST: $$$
8
Kefi 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Delivery, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking
Cuisine: European, Greek
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
COST: $$
9
Gari 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese, Sushi
Dining Options: Delivery, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
COST: $$$
10
Bar Boulud 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Wine Cellar
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
COST: $$