When it comes to uptown dining these days, west is best. While the Upper East Side recently suffered the major losses of Cafe Boulud and Flora Bar and has seen few interesting new openings, its crosstown counterpart is on a roll.
This weekend’s Taste of the Upper West Side festival has the names — and flavors — to prove it. On Friday and Saturday evenings, more than 80 eateries will serve up their best bites on Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets. There will be something for everyone: bright Turkish fare from Bodrum, spicy Korean food from Boka, elegant Italian from the Leopard at des Artistes and good ol’ beef on a bun from Bareburger. (Go to TasteUWS.com for tickets.)
The popular event, now in its 12th year, went on hiatus in 2020 but is making a triumphant return.
“The Upper West Side never had the mass [pandemic] exodus of the East Side, which helped keep restaurants afloat,” said Don Evans, who helped dream up the first Taste of the West Side more than a decade ago and wrangled restaurants this year. “Now, owners and chefs are rediscovering how hungry the neighborhood is.”
The vast area north of 59th Street between Central Park and the Hudson River has ridden a culinary roller coaster in recent years. The Post dubbed it the “Upper Best Side” in 2007, only to demote it to “Upper Worst Side” in 2013. But now, thanks to a younger demographic, gutsy owners and lower rents than across town, it’s again strutting its gastronomic stuff.
Broadway’s fabled Restaurant Row across from Lincoln Center is complete again with the reopening of Boulud Sud last week. Shun Lee West returned to life earlier this year, while Midtown East’s Shun Lee Palace remains dark.
Most exciting, there have been a number of major, attention-grabbing launches in the neighborhood in recent months that are drawing crowds. Check them out at Taste of the Upper West Side or head to the restaurants themselves and enjoy.
This mammoth, multi-level, indoor-outdoor eatery has an elaborate menu of favorites from Spain and the Caribbean. 505 Columbus Ave., Tasca-NYC.com
Simon Oren’s colorful, Israeli-inspired bistro has drawn huge crowds since The Post raved about it last spring. Chef/partner Ari Bokovza’s menu also embraces flavors from Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco. 2454 Broadway, DagonNYC.com
The super-hot omakase empire that’s taken the Hamptons and downtown by storm just opened an outpost on Columbus Avenue. Diners can enjoy great sushi inside or out. 286 Columbus Ave., ExploreKissaki.com
This lucky seventh outpost of the popular Italian chain run by SA Hospitality takes up two levels and boasts a dramatic, 42-foot-long bar. There are well-executed pasta dishes, meat, seafood and a unique selection of smoked fish, all reasonably priced. 240 Columbus Ave., FeliceNYC.com
Lovers of the beloved, now-closed Chinatown jumbo can satisfy their appetites for General Tso’s chicken, dim sum and other traditional dishes at this small corner offshoot, which has both indoor and outdoor seating. 380 Amsterdam Ave., JingFongNY.com
Acclaimed chef Salil Mehta, who runs popular Laut and Laut Singapura downtown, stretches his footprint north with this colorful just-opened spot focused on Malaysian and Indonesian comfort food. 434 Amsterdam Ave., WauNYC.com
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