At home on the Upper West Side

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Artie’s Delicatessen, 2290 Broadway (at 83rd), tel: 212.579.5959, Hours: Mon – Sun, 9am -11:00pm. Classic Jewish deli. Pastrami, matzoh ball soup, rice pudding, etc.

Bettola, 412 Amsterdam Ave, between 79 and 80 St, 212-787-1660
Italian. Good pastas, salads and individual pizza.

Gazala’s Place, Columbus Avenue at 78th Street, serves wonderful Middle Eastern  “mezes” as well as full entrees in a pleasant airy space at affordable prices. Let Israeli Druze owner Gazala Halabi treat you to her traditional cuisine. BYOB or … they now have a beer/wine license.

Gennaro, 665 Amsterdam Ave, (between 92nd and 93rd st.), (212) 665-5348. Mediterranean Italian. The best Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side … and beyond. Cash only. No reservations. Gets crowded and noisy early so go when it opens. Worth it!!

Good Enough To Eat, recently moved to Columbus Av at 85th Street, (212) 496-0163: Home-cooked American food in a charming space. Wonderful breakfasts. The lines for weekend brunch go way down the street, so best to go during the week.

I like the American home cooking at Kitchenette, with branches at Amsterdam and 123rd Street and Chambers Street off Hudson in TriBeCa.)

Indus Valley, 2636 Broadway at 100th Street. Walk or take the M104 bus up to my favorite Indian restaurant. The owners and staff are warm and attentive, the ambience pleasant, and the food terrific.

Jacob’s Pickles, on Amsterdam and 84th Street, is a neighborhood newcomer, but several recent guests have discovered it and enthusiastically recommended the beer, biscuits, pickles, and American home cooking. For more info >>

Peacefood Cafe, 460 Amsterdam Av, at 82 Street, tel 212.362.2266: Delicious vegan food, and yummy desserts that you can take out if you prefer. Free wifi.

Pisticci, 125 LaSalle Street, just west of Broadway. Enjoy a wonderful meal at this Italian restaurant. The Columbia University grad student and faculty hangout takes no reservations, so arrive early or prepare to sit at the bar. Pisticci is also proud to be the first NYC restaurant to go green — 100% carbon neutral.

Regional, 2607 Broadway, 99th Street, New York, NY | 646-963-9301. Excellent Italian food, from — as the name suggests — different regions. I love the variations on carciofi — artichoke — and my kids swear by the pasta with veal ragout sauce.

Santa Fe, 73 West 71 Street. I’m sensitive to noise and crowds, so Santa Fe is where I go when I want to enjoy conversation with my companions, over a good Southwestern US meal and a margarita, in a comfortable setting. Santa Fe has been around a long time, and if you eat in the spacious, comfortable bar section, you’ll the “regulars” greeting one another. Aside from hearty fajitas, guacamole, and other dinner staples, Sante Fe has a very good brunch menu. They take reservations, so visitors avoid the long brunch lines outside other West Side restaurants.

For a quick lunch or light meal, especially after a few days of overeating at NYC’s many excellent restaurants, head to 80th Street and Amsterdam Avenue: Hummus Kitchen, for hummus, falafel, and other Middle Eastern treats; Island Burgers and Shakes, for spicy chicken churrasco sandwiches as well as perfectly cooked hamburgers and milkshakes; Luke’s Lobster for lobster rolls, chowder and other tasty favorites from the coast of Maine.

For an afternoon coffee and sweet treat, try Café Lalo, 201 West 83 Street. Lalo was featured in the film, “You’ve Got Mail,” and boasts excellent cappuccino and AMAZING rich desserts! Noisy and crowded at night, but a great pace to rest in the afternoon after a day of sightseeing. Edgar’s Cafe, similar to Lalo, recently moved to 650 Amsterdam Ave. Both are well-known “first date” spots! You’ll see Columbia students studying, typing furiously on their MacBooks, or engaged in intense discussions, at the Hungarian Pastry Shop at 1030 Amsterdam Ave, opposite the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Make sure you peek into the largest Gothic church in the US and look for the peacocks in the south garden. And consider a Vertical Tour, up to the buttresses, to learn about the gorgeous stained glass windows, gothic arches and other structural elements. Not for the faint-hearted but absolutely fascinating!

For a classic hamburger, fries, salads, and your favorite cocktail (mojito, margarita, etc.) try Island Burgers and Shakes (see above,) Fred’s, High Life, MacAleer’s, or NiceMatin, all on Amsterdam between 79th Street and 84th Street. All are “pretty good,” in my opinion, and each has a different price range and atmosphere. Nice Matin and Five Napkin Burger, at three locations (Hells Kitchen, 630 9th Ave @ 45th Street, Upper West Side, 2315 Broadway,@ 84th Street, and 35-01 36th Street, @ 35th Ave, Astoria, Queens) are a bit pricier than the other options, but have an attractive and more upscale environment. McAleer’s, at 80th St, has sports on TV, and outdoor seating in warm weather. Noisy at night & during games, but an old-fashioned bar, owned by the son of the family that opened it — the real thing. I have a soft spot in my heart for McAleer’s.

The Irish spirit is also alive at St James Gate Publick House, on Amsterdam and 81st. Comfortable bar and tables, congenial staff, quieter than McAleer’s, and very good food.

The West 79 Street Boat Basin Café , 212-496-5542: The food isn’t special, but it’s lovely to sit outside, overlooking the Hudson River. On weekends, there is a huge, crowded bar scene, but I like to go there for breakfast, lunch or other ‘quiet’ times. It’s not so easy to find; Follow 79th Street down into Riverside Park, and there is a small sidewalk on your right, with signs leading you down to the riverside.

Gray’s Papaya, at W 72nd St and Broadway, is a quintessential NYC experience. Buy two hot dogs with mustard & sauerkraut and a refreshing coconut-pineapple juice. Eat at the counter and watch the world go by.

When you’re not eating or enjoying the outdoor café scene:

Lincoln Center – The Atrium, between West 62 and 63 Streets on Broadway. Want discounted tix for the New York Philharmonic? NYC Ballet? Jazz at Lincoln Center? Enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or hear free live music? The Box Office at the Rubenstein Atrium sells same-day tickets at half price, beginning at noon. It is very common to pick up excellent orchestra seats. In addition, there is a free music event every Thursday evening. And there’s a self-serve cafe and wi-fi. Check the website for exact hours and subscribe to their website in advance of your trip, so that you have an idea of what’s coming up.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave, between 79th and 86th Streets.
Of course, you know about the Met Museum, but did you know that you can walk to it from our b&b through Central Park in 20 minutes? A lovely stroll, and I’m happy to lend you my membership card.

American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West, between 77th and 81st Streets. What can I say. It is simply wonderful, and it’s just down the street from our B&B. Open every day.

American Folk Art Museum, Columbus Avenue at 66th Street. Right in our background we have a gem of a museum, devoted to traditional fine arts and crafts created by self-taught artists from the 18th century to the present. Among its treasures is one of the finest collections of American quilts. In addition to viewing the collection and special exhibits on their own, visitors can take free tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm, and enjoy free musical events such as Guitar Afternoon Wednesdays at 2 pm and Free Music Fridays, live music each Friday, 5:30–7:30 pm.

US Post Office, 127 W 83rd St, is our local post office.

NY Public Library – St Agnes Branch, 82nd St and Amsterdam Ave. Our local branch library has computers available for your use. And it’s a lovely library, newly renovated.

Support our neighborhood, family-owned stores!

This recent article in Crain’s NY will tell you something about our neighborhood, how it’s changing, and why it’s so important to shop at our few remaining family-owned stores.

The Town Shop, 81st St and Broadway, Ladies, the best experience you’ll ever have buying lingerie! Hosiery, sleepwear, swimwear & undies. Let a saleslady fit you for a bra or bathing suit. You’ll come out looking like a million bucks!

Harry’s Shoes, 83rd St and Broadway, Harry’s specializes in COMFORTABLE shoes, boots & sandals for men, women & kids. For women, especially corporate professionals, seeking an alternative to “killer” high heels, Harry’s is a lifesaver.

Zabar’s, 80th and Broadway: You’ve never experienced anything like it! Great coffee, bagels & pastries at corner cafe, the BEST place in NYC to buy food from all over the world, and the best selection and prices for housewares upstairs. Lox and bagels, home-baked rugelach, cheese, deli, chocolate, ambience! Visit on Sunday, when the store is jammed, samples are given out, and you can eat your way up and down the aisles.

100 year-old Barney Greengrass (“The Sturgeon King”) and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, founded in 1946, are our two remaining old-fashioned Jewish delicatessens, and they set the standard for smoked fish, appetising salads, and all the fixings of a traditional bagel brunch. Stop there to buy a picnic lunch, before heading into Central or Riverside Park. And then pick up a drink or a nice piece of fruit for your picnic at Zingone Brothers, a small, family-owned grocery store on Columbus Av and 81st. Great owners, recently featured in the NY Times.

West Side Kids, on Amsterdam Avenue and 84th, was founded in 1981 by Alice Bergman and is still run by her and her daughter, Jenny. An excellent selection of top-quality toys and knowledgable, warm, personal service have made West Side Kids a neighborhood institution, as other stores have come and gone. When I was a young parent I spent many hours there.

Broadway Chemists, at Broadway and 85th, is a relative newcomer, but family-owned and committed to customer service. Nice people, a good selection of cosmetics and health items, and a knowledgable pharmacist — an old-fashioned drugstore.

86th Corner Wine & Liquor at the corner of Columbus Ave and 86th Street is the place to go if you want to pick up a bottle of wine. They’ve been in business longer than I’ve been a West Sider. Their selection is excellent; their customer service is even better.

New York, NY 10024

Looking for live music in the neighborhood?

Enjoy local rock & roll and blues bands, a few beers, with no cover or minimum, at the former P & G’s, now known as 78 Below. On Thursday nights from 6pm to 9pm there is live jazz at Sarabeth’s on Amsterdam and 80th. Cleopatra’s Needle has been serving up live jazz and Mediterranean food for years. Smoke Jazz and Supper Club is located at Broadway and 106th and of course there’s Jazz at Lincoln Center in the Time Warner Building on Columbus Circle. And for everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to the World Music Institute to Selected Shorts to films at the Thalia, there is the incomparable performing arts venue, Symphony Space. See also the listing for the American Folk Art Museum above.

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