Meal by Meal on the Upper East Side

To experience the neighborhood’s best dining options, try to take each meal of the day at a new place. One resident’s suggestions

| 11 Aug 2022 | 11:00

Upper East Side dining is undoubtedly one of the most special New York experiences. The neighborhood has many longstanding staples as well as an abundance of new, unconventional spots. And there is a surprising diversity in dining locations, spanning from cultural hotspots to decades-old landmarks. When exploring the Upper East Side’s various offers, it is rewarding to check out places that encompass the neighborhood’s character in unexpected ways.

To effectively experience the Upper East Side’s dining options, try taking each meal of the day at a different place:

Breakfast at The Mansion Diner: Located on 86th Street and York Avenue, The Mansion has become a staple location in Yorkville, attracting members of the police force, late-night partying teenagers and many other local demographics. The diner has existed since 1945 and functioned as a “neighborhood eating spot for families, singles, students, taxi drivers, and casual walk-ins” for almost eighty years. It serves a variety of delicious diner classics with many new additions that keep the menu interesting. The diner does not take reservations, but walk-ins are normally seated within five minutes despite the restaurant’s immense popularity. While The Mansion’s food remains consistently appetizing year long, the ambience of the restaurant is even further amplified during the holiday seasons. The Mansion does holidays unlike any other restaurant, with incredible decorations both in and outside of the store, further expanding the diner’s attraction.

Casual Lunch at J.G. Melon: Lunch on the UES can either mean a quick bite at one of the many burger joints or diners located in the area, or conversely, can call for a gourmet experience at one of the high-end establishments. J.G. Melon has long been one of the neighborhood’s most famous and beloved burger bars. Located on 75th Street and Third Avenue, the pub only accepts cash as a quirky nod to the past. The restaurant’s undeniably cozy ambience attracts a casual clientele purely interested in the flavorful menu choices and the relaxed atmosphere. Since 1972, the restaurant has been known for its burgers and finger foods accompanied by their expertly composed drinks. The impeccable food quality has not gone unnoticed by either the public or food critics, with lines spanning hundreds at peak hours. The Michelin Guide has featured the restaurant, perfectly describing the institution as coveted whilst timeless.

Upscale Lunch at The Mark: The Mark restaurant on 77th Street and Madison Avenue has become a crowd favorite for Upper East Siders, offering an array of French-American meals all day long. Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened it over a decade ago in The Mark Hotel and its popularity has remained relatively unwavering since – for a reason. The restaurant attracts a clientele ranging from understated regulars to international celebrities presenting their unique yet decadent styles. The restaurant’s pink chairs and dimly glowing lights set a sophisticated and tasteful atmosphere, which complements the flavorsome food perfectly. The Mark combines French and American classics with some distinctive twists, notably the recent additions of crispy salmon sushi and hamachi sashimi. Both dishes work perfectly as small bites or shared appetizers, especially when paired with the contrasting yet complimentary pea guacamole. After a starter, the Caesar salad is a light yet flavorful choice that can be ordered alongside any of their phenomenal four-slice pizzas. The Mark consistently provides innovative food in an elegant setting.

Dinner at Sushi of Gari: Sushi in New York is a highly valued cuisine, and Sushi of Gari on 78th Street and First Ave. has long been known as one of the top Japanese restaurants in the city. Though the menu’s prices are undeniably high, the intricately assembled food is unparalleled. Mastoshi Gari Sugio was captivated by the artistry of food, specifically sushi, from a young age and has since dedicated his life and career to helping others properly enjoy sushi. This eventually led Gari to create several different sauces that perfectly pair with various sushi and sashimi dishes which he now serves at his restaurant. The maguro tofu rayu dish consists of a tofu puree sitting atop a slice of bluefin tuna and a bed of warm rice. The sauce that is pre-paired with the piece is a hand selected sesame chili oil that cuts through the intensity of the flavors beautifully. The dish is one of the restaurant’s most famous and is an example of the intricate planning and execution behind each piece of sushi served at the restaurant.

Ice Cream at Anita La Mamma del Gelato: To conclude a day of eating on the Upper East Side, Anita La Mamma del Gelato on Second Avenue and 81st Street is an obvious finale. The ice cream shop opened in 2020, and just two years later has become an immensely popular spot, often boasting lines around the block. The shop’s tantalizing flavors more than make up for the wait. Anita offers cream, vegan and sugar-free gelato options, as well as their new addition of frozen yogurt. No matter what your favorite flavor may be, there is almost always something comparable if not better available in the store. And since the shop’s original humble beginnings, all products have been completely handmade, which is obvious just from the first lick.

The Upper East Side continues to prove itself as a champion of both upscale and casual dining. No matter the time of day, there is always a delicious option available within walking distance.