Tucked in between a few low-key restaurants along Amsterdam Avenue, Max Soha is an authentic Italian restaurant that has been serving some of the area’s best pasta since 2001. Their shrimp fettucine alfredo is an easy favorite for its creamy and indulgent white sauce, although the items on their daily menu and specials make it a difficult choice. Whether it’s time for a hearty serving of Italian goodness or a soothing sip of wine, Max Soha is the perfect place to go.
Despite being a bit hidden from passersby, Pisticci is so well-liked that it’s still usually packed from brunch through dinner. It’s definitely worth the wait for its homey interiors and genuine Italian food. Patrons of the 13-year-old establishment love their addictive garlic bread and famous penne pisticci. Definitely a community treasure, Pisticci is the best place to go to for a romantic dinner or a family gathering.
Another hidden gem, Massawa is a 25-year-old Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant along Amsterdam Avenue. Don’t let this restaurant’s small size fool you, because the food is a big deal. The tebsi is a must try, but just be ready to get your hands dirty. They also have plenty of platters or combo meals to choose from, so it’s a great place to bring groups.
Though its original branch is in downtown Syracuse, the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem has made its own mark and cultivated its own set of loyal customers since opening 11 years ago. Housed in a two-story brick building next to the Hudson River, the restaurant is easily recognized as the home of the best ribs in town. It makes for the perfect comfort food, or a reliable spot to chow down with friends.
Community Food & Juice
Located along Broadway near Columbia University, Community Food & Juice has become the go-to brunch place for Upper West Side residents and students since its opening in 2007. But the reward for wading through the daily crowd is worth it, especially if you order their famous, fluffy blueberry pancakes. Since they use organic and sustainable ingredients, it’s also a good place to get your health fix. In fact, the kitchen takes requests to make certain menu items vegetarian.
Originally located in Tribeca, Kitchenette Uptown now has branches in both Morningside Heights and High Falls. Despite the move, it still manages to bring small-town charm to its famous biscuits and egg dishes. With an adorable interior, this place is perfect for a quiet Sunday brunch in the Upper West Side.
Jin Ramen is always a hit among Upper West Side locals, many of whom happily line up outside the restaurant even in the winter. Inconspicuously located below the 125th station of the 1 Train, it boasts of reasonably priced but tasty Japanese favorites, including steamed pork buns and a variety of ramen, the most popular of which is the spicy tonkatsu. If this branch is too full, you can also drop by its other location at 82nd Street and Amsterdam.
Hungarian Pastry Shop
A favorite among local artists, professors, and students, the family-run Hungarian Pastry Shop offers its customers a cozy and relaxing ambience. The family-run shop is famous for its Hungarian coffee and its view of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine along Amsterdam. Whether you are there for the location or the pastries, the Hungarian Pastry Shop has proven to be a local New York treasure.
The Thai Market offers some of the most authentic Bangkok-style dishes and atmosphere in the Upper West Side. Its juicy skirt steak is a customer favorite, although its cheaper lunch specials are also a hit among local students who are loyal market customers.
Mel’s Burger Bar
Mel’s Burger Bar is famous for its wide selection of gourmet burgers. Though their portions are not too big, they’re certainly memorable. On the side, Mel’s has a great selection of tasty fries and the crowd-pleasing fried Oreo cookies for dessert. Its sleek resto-bar setup also clicks with the college students who often come here to relax with a drink after class.