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Help!!! Manhattanites!!! Help me get some quiet eating space on the Upper West Side!!!!

Help!!! Manhattanites!!! Help me get some quiet eating space on the Upper West Side!!!!

Jul 8th, 2008, 07:04 PM
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Help!!! Manhattanites!!! Help me get some quiet eating space on the Upper West Side!!!!

Personal circumstances mean that I am coming in and out of Manhattan, above the W. 90s, for extended stays this summer. Although I have the use of an apartment, I also must eat some meals out, most every time with a companion.

Where can I eat where other people have not got their elbows (or worse!) in my plate or face or are brushing my hair, yada, yada?

You know what I mean?

I just came back from a meal at Community Food and Juice on Broadway and the server had her rear end in my face -- literally -- nearly half the meal. It wasn't her fault. The table spacing left her no room. We would have moved the table over, but then we would have been crammed in closer than coach seating on an airplane to the people next to us.

To make matters worse, the one (admittedly lousy) Italian I walked into because I saw it had an almost empty room in the back banged really REALLY loud music off hard surfaces from the minute we sat down. We couldn't talk at all. Even the waiter couldn't hear us talking to him for our order.

I know I'm going to have to meet with people to eat sometime next week or sooner. I really need some civilized space for dinners out.

Can you steer me to anyplace? It would be nice if the food were edible as well.

I know. i'm asking a lot. I'm willing to take a subway if I have to, but I would prefer to stay on the west side.

I'm beginning to wonder if I should eat all the time at the little outdoor terrace with shish kebab in Riverside Park in the low 100s. But what if it rains?

summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 08:10 PM
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Real estate and rents are VERY high in Mnahattan and the only way restaurants survive is to pack in tables as closely as possible. In most of our - west 90's neighborhood places people at other tables have to move their chairs for you to get by. This is a simple function of economics.

The only places I have eaten that are fairly quiet and have substantial room between the tables are quite upscale. One of the things those much higher prices ar buying you is more privacy and elbow room.

Is your budget flexible?

If not - and you want to stick with inexpensive - your best choices are to eat either very early (like 6 pm) or late (after 10 pm except on Fri and Sat) so the restaurants isn't full. You'll have more room and it will be quieter.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 02:56 AM
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Thanks, nytraveler. I know all that. I should have said I'm a former Manhattanite, and continue to come to Manhattan for business on a yearly basis. I have just never berthed before on the Upper West Side or spent much time in restaurants up here.

Budget isn't a problem. Eating at 6pm certainly would be. I don't need to eat cheap.

Have you got any recommendations?

Moaning to a friend last night reminded me that indeed real estate is cheaper in Harlem, and that not long ago I had very good grilled sardines and a salad at Floridita's tapas at 125th and the seating wasn't for sardines. But the have Flamenco on weekend nights, and I do need to be able to talk.

Other Harlem places? Other Upper West Side places? I eat all kinds of food, although I have to admit I'm very wary of Chinese food in this neighborhood after several disastrous take out experiences.
summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 03:02 AM
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PS, nytraveler, just to add to the real estate theory:

I realize restos on the East side have had their leases longer, but you actually can find a choice of quiet places with ample room to eat from the east mid-30s to the east mid-90s, and I'm not just talking about Le Bernadin price ranges. Some of this is culture -- or something.
summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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La Mirabelle is an old fashioned French bistro on 86th st. west of Columbus. I don't think the food's all that special, but I think it's a quiet crowd. Looking on menupages.com, Voza sounds like a winner and only has 4 tables.

Do you know about Terrace in the Sky at 119th st.?
mclaurie is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 07:28 AM
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It's on 77th (and Columbus)...so not quite as convenient but I recommend Dovetail for a nice dinner. I went there for my birthday this year and really enjoyed it. The B, C line is not far from there...(81st street and Central Park West)

103 West 77th Street |
Katie_H is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:15 PM
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Thanks to you both.

Have either of you ever eaten at Metisse? Is it a pleasant space? I know it's in the basement, and I don't think that would bother. I just wanted to know if it was really tight seating.

La Mirabelle's menu looks fine with me.

I don't think risk Voza, with only four tables. Maybe I'll reserve for my last night here, but most of the time I don't know that I'm eating out until just about dinnertime!

I do know Terrace in the Sky, and it would be fine with me. I'm trying to remember if in the dead of summer they would be OK with me just coming in slacks.

Katie, I think Dovetail looks swell, but I have to say that menu is very caloric! A birthday treat, yes. But almost everything had an extra rich twist to it. Again, maybe once, but I'm really looking for a nice place I return to again and again, hopefully without reservations in summer. Someplace I can be a regular.

You know, I ate a very relaxed, healthy, even cheap meal by choosing carefully at Symposium one night. Of course, I love skordalia and things like sauteed dandelions. But it was easy going. (I did see that big table in the center that seats 20, so I can imagine it can be noisy.)

And I'm seriously going to try to talk some dinner partners into having picnics with me in Riverside Park. You know the architecture up here is stunning, the rivers views are fantastic and the company couldn't be better when you're in the park before sundown. Plenty of empty park benches, and one or two nice markets on B'way. Plus a bottle of wine. It's gotta be better than sucking fumes or having elbows in your face for dinner on the main drag.


(and let me know if you've eaten at Metisse -- oh, and whether Dinosaur B-Bq is too fatty and noisy or tiny tables too. Thanks!)
summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:20 PM
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PS: I'll let you know if the food is any good at Mirabelle, or if any find any good places!

In the meantime, if you are up by Columbia, I do think the grilled sardines, salads and the wine list at Floridita's Tapas on 125th and B'way make a nice meal. A friend had an assortment of tapas, and the only one I wouldn't recommend was the potatoes bravas.

Their Spanish wine list was good.

And there was elbow room and a nice, happy crowd.
summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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I like Ouest, on Broadway in the 80s very much. They have an early bird dinner, too. The food is consistently excellent, the place is comfortable and unpretentious, and the dining areas have not been noisy when I have eaten there, always on the early side (but not as early as the early bird hours.)

ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Thanks. I've often heard good things about Ouest, and that it's serious eats. And it would be fun to try and walk in and snag one of those cozy booths. (But I think I'd need a back-up plan!).

I can't do early bird. It's not just my schedule. My stomach has a hard time with dinner before 8 at the earliest. Also, I really don't eat dessert much.

Does Ouest do fish well?

summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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The first place coming to mind is Turkuaz - B'way at 100th St., west side of the street. Reasonable prices (entrees in the approx $20-25.00 range).
Also, Hunan Balcony - good, not great Chinese on B'way near 98th, east side of the street. Decent neighborhood place.
spring212 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 07:10 PM
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Really Turkuaz? From the pictures it looks like the tables are right on top of each other. If it feels spacious and isn't noisy, I'll give it a try, because I really like Turkish food.

I'm so wary of Chinese food from anything less than truly good restaurants.
summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 07:49 PM
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Havana Central, on Broadway at 113th, is huge. The bar area gets a bit crowded, but there is a whole back dining room that's very spacious. And the food is good too!


Outdoor dining is one of my very favorite things during the summer. Picnics are great, of course, but you might also keep your eye out for restaurants with outdoor seating as you're walking around. By nature, they can't be quite as crowded (though sometimes the tables are very small).

One of our very favorite restaurants is Pisticci, on LaSalle Street. Yes, this is a tiny, "cozy" restaurant. However, at off-peak times it's rarely crowded, and they do have a nice outdoor seating area. http://www.pisticcinyc.com/
TarheelsInNj is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 09:42 PM
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Henry's, at Broadway and 105th, might fit your needs. The restaurant has a spacious, warm interior (wood-paneled walls and wood floors with white table cloths) with good, tasty food. Friends and family have been there many times for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and have consistently had a nice meal.

You can find the menu of this and other restaurants at Menupages.com:

Enjoy your visit.
bluemadison29 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 05:12 AM
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You might want to post this same inquiry on the Manhattan board at chowhound.com.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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I have enjoyed the food at Pisticci, and I agree that during the week, the space isn't always crowded. I even managed to get comfortable on those precarious, rocky chairs they've perched over their basement. But if it gets crowded, it's impossible. The waiters run around like it's the 500 yard dash.

I'll totally part ways with you on Havana Central, however. I found the food -- just plain awful! I won't return. I do like rice and beans. I'd rather go upstairs to the roof of the Heights Grill, and eat a burrito.

In general, when it comes to outdoor dining, I have to say I much prefer the ambience of Riverside Park to Broadway because of noise and exhaust.


When I got to the Upper West Side this time, the first place I went to was Henry's because French friends had taken me there a few years back and we had a nice meal and could actually hear ourselves talk. This time, I ended up outside (too many fire trucks), the kitchen was slow, the service was harried and the food had unpleasant experiments with mixing flavors. That's how I ended up prowling the neighborhood for an alternative! I thought for the price, I surely could do better. But maybe I should just go back and talk the chef into laying off the cumin for me.


I've been turning up Chowhound threads on my google searches. So far most of the ones I see for recommendations in this neighborhood focus on eating at holes in the wall for under $15. I like a good taqueria or roti joint, too, but I need a quiet place with well-spaced tables. I know I have to pay for that, and the food will probably be more conventional.

Thanks everybody.

Can anybody tell me if Turkuaz is a comfortable dining space (absent the belly dancers!) --?
summeruws2008 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Summer: Yes, Ouest is very good for fish. I know you don't mean smoked fish, but they do an excellent gravlax with a check pea pancake for an appetizer. For the entree, the roast fish dishes always seem to please my (particular about food) friends who order them..
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 08:27 AM
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Go on Chowhound and post yourself, I assure you there are many there knowledgeable about more than cheap holes in the wall. They're foodies.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 03:32 PM
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Have a look at Pio Pio on Amsterdam & 94th st. I haven't been but heard it's good during the week.
mclaurie is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Havana Central, as someone else mentioned, is very spacious, you can ask to be seated in the back area where there are even fewer people. I love their sandwiches & paella.

Amsterdam Restaurant & Lounge (On Amsterdam, around 119th) is also reasonably sized and fairly spaced apart. It's a little overpriced for the area but not anywhere near as expensive as Terrace in the Sky. They have a regular menu (basically European/modern american) as well as a tapas menu. We enjoy the tapas a lot! If you are by yourself, grab a seat by the windows and I think you will have even more space. Great desserts & cocktails, too.

I enjoy Max Cafe for a panini or salad, it's on Amsterdam & 123rd. Some seats are close together, other times you can snag a whole couch for yourself. Probably depends on time of day & which part of the cafe you choose. I like it because it is a place where I am totally comfortable sitting & eating alone, or studying or reading for hours - they don't rush you at all.

jclizzzard is offline  
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