View of the Upper East Side in New York City

City Guide / New York City

New York City Neighborhood Guide: Upper East Side

By Ruthie Fierberg | Oct 25, 2021

Thinking about moving to New York City and looking for the right neighborhood for you? The counterpart to the Upper West Side, Manhattan’s Upper East Side stretches from 59th Street to 96th Street and from Fifth Avenue to the East River. 

The Upper East Side has the historic reputation of wealth and poshness. The 50s to the 70s does maintain that high-class, affluent feel, with boutiques and high-end retail stores centralized on Fifth and Madison Avenues. The architecture and feel of the neighborhood are similar to the Upper West Side, with doorman buildings and brownstones common. There’s an air of classical culture (the path known as Museum Mile is a hallmark of the area), and the streets are some of the cleanest in Manhattan. 

The Upper East Side is a bit quieter and more mellow than the West, as there are only two subway lines that run through it (the 4/5/6 on Lexington and the Q on Second Avenue). If you’re looking for a place outside the hustle and bustle with a touch of austerity, the East Side is for you. 

Thinking about moving to the Upper East Side? Here’s our guide to the best restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, outdoor attractions, gyms, nightlife, and transportation in the neighborhood.

Best restaurants in the area

New to the neighborhood is Coco Pazzeria from pizza conossieurs Pino Luongo, Ciro Verde, and Alessandro Bandini. Is it Neopolitan? Is it Roman? It’s an entirely original type of thin-crust pizza topped with ingredients sourced from Italy. 

For Mediterranean, check out any of the classic mezze or kabobs at The Salt Mediterranean, or for something special, order the salt-baked branzino that arrives en flambé. If you just want the best mezze (both hot and cold), Blue Mezze is the spot. 

Chamoun’s Way is perfect for a super casual but authentic meal when it comes to Lebanese food, while  Up Thai is the ideal Thai spot (we’re still dreaming about their peanut sauce!). 

Craving legit pub food? Sports bar East End Bar & Grill serves the wings you’ve been searching for. If you’re more of a health nut, you can choose from a menu of acai, pitaya, and green bowls at Sophia’s Natural Organic Bowls (a.k.a. SNOB)

Innocent Yesterday boasts one of the most mouth-watering menus in the area. Not only do they feature a robust list of incredible coffees, teas, and mocktails, but their bakery menu is two full pages long, offering everything from fresh-baked cookies and cakes to homemade marshmallows. 

Ice cream lovers must sample Emack & Bolio’s, which serves huge scoops and original flavors like chocolate mousse and pumpkin.

Where to get groceries

Whole Foods boasts a giant location on 87th Street, and the neighborhood is peppered with local chains like Gristedes and Morton Williams. D’Agostino is a family-owned supermarket that has been a New York staple for decades. 

Fairway on 86th Street is our preference for all of the basics, plus fresh produce, butcher items, and some prepared foods. 

Find New York delicacies like smoked fish and specialty cheeses and a selection of Jewish baked goods at Eli’s, a smaller east side outpost of Zabar’s. Citarella is an upscale boutique market especially good for prepared foods like rotisserie chicken.

Where to get coffee

Innocent Yesterday offers everything from your basic cup of joe to nitro brews, espresso drinks, americanos, and cortados, along with a selection of 16 teas and scrumptious fresh pastries. Head inside the luxurious Hanley building to try Sant Ambroeus Coffee Bar’s espresso drinks and in-house dessert specialties such as  Gianuduia, a hazelnut sponge cake. 

Hutch + Waldo brings the down-under vibes of Australia to Manhattan with their menu of simple flavors from local producers—obviously, their flat white is a must. Ella’s Cafe & Wine Bar is an excellent choice and more of an Israeli café. 

Inés serves exceptional coffee and lite bites with a rustic vibe. Speaking of rustic, try DTUT which is a bar/coffeehouse serving Irving Farm Coffee, s’mores, and fondue. 

Outdoor attractions

The Upper East Side borders Central Park along Fifth Avenue, giving you plenty of opportunities to get some fresh air in this neighborhood. The park divides the east and west sides of New York City, and there are certain attractions that are best accessed from the east. 

Take a stroll around the pond at Central Park and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, or admire exotic animals at the Central Park Zoo. While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the Arsenal, a historic landmark nearby featuring rotating art exhibitions and rotating famed murals in the lobby. And, in the wintertime, you’ll love the chance to slip on your skates and visit Wollman Ice Rink. 

Concert venue Summerstage is most easily accessed at the 72nd Street entrance and features a full calendar of upcoming acts. Just north of Summerstage is a pond for model boating and the iconic “Alice in Wonderland” statue.

In the mood for a run amid Manhattan? The east side of the reservoir past the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great place to get a workout in. Additionally, you’ll find fantastic views of the East River and a pool in the summertime at the intimate John Jay Park. For more greenery, head farther north to Carl Schurz Park and enjoy views of the mayor’s residence at Gracie Mansion. 

Local gyms and workout spots

Major workout chain Equinox has multiple locations on the Upper East Side, but there are also other workout options like Barry’s, New York Sports Club, Crunch, and CrossFit in this part of Manhattan.

Asphalt Green is akin to an urban country club, complete with outdoor soccer and football fields, batting cages, tennis courts, and an indoor pool. The 92nd Street Y is not only a cultural institution—it’s a full-service health and fitness center. Swim laps in the 25-yard pool, take a fitness class, practice your swing in the simulated Golf Den, and more. 

Try an indoor rowing class at CityROW, or get your sweat on with hot pilates, hot yoga, hot HIIT at Bode NYC. You can even try four days free at Synergy Fitness, a more conventional gym that lets you try it out before you join. For a customized approach, try Remorca Fitness, which combines personal training, physical therapy, and wellness education.

Nightlife

The Upper East Side is a mix of super swanky bars and gastropubs. Go for cocktails at the classic Penrose or at Daniel Boulud’s Bar Pleiades, which is decked out in black-and-white leather. Caledonia bills itself as “the world’s least pretentious whiskey bar,” and The Pony Bar is a must-taste for craft beer lovers. Hop-fiends will also enjoy The Jeffrey, with over 30 taps on their draft system (and a constantly rotating menu of cocktails) as well as beers, ales, and ciders at Jones Wood Foundry. Beyond juice joints, the UES does have one clubbing hotspot from the same owners as Tao, called Lavo.

Things to do

Museum Mile begins at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue with the impressive, well-known Metropolitan Museum of Art. It houses 5,000 years of art from around the world. Visit must-see exhibits like the Temple of Dendur in Egyptian Art, the Chinese Courtyard of the Ming Dynasty, and the French Decorative Arts rooms. You’ll also find ancient Greek and Roman statues, as well as paintings from European classicists to American modernists. 

For early 20-century German and Austrian art and design, head to the Neue Galerie, and for modern and contemporary art, you’ll love the Guggenheim Museum, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The only museum in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to design, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum holds more than 210,000 design objects. 

Finally, The Jewish Museum, featuring Jewish art and culture of the past 4,000 years, sits at 92nd Street. 

Away from Museum Mile, The Frick is the most gorgeous collection of paintings from the Renaissance to the early 20th Century. 

If museums are not your taste but culture is, visit the historic 92Y, where you can take a class in dance, music, or art. The 92Y Talk series has hosted some of our greatest minds and talents, including Stephen Sondheim, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Oprah Winfrey, as well as pop culture panels like the cast of “Queer Eye” and more. 

You can also easily spend a day shopping on the Upper East Side, or catch a movie at the AMC on 86th Street.

Transportation

The main subway line through the Upper East Side is the Local 6 and Express 4/5 trains, which run along Lexington Avenue from 59th to 96th Streets. The new expansion of the Q train runs along Second Avenue between 72nd and 96th Streets—it intersects with the 4/5/6 at Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street. 

MTA buses are a fairly reliable way to get around as well. Manhattanites can also take a picturesque trip to Roosevelt Island (the small strip between Manhattan and Queens in the East River) via a tram from the stop at 59th and Second Avenue.

Rent a great apartment in the Upper East Side

If you like the idea of moving to an apartment in the Upper East Side, Landing offers fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms, concierge services, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need. Browse our available apartments in the Upper East Side, or contact us to learn more about how a Landing membership works.

Still looking for the right New York City neighborhood for you? Browse our other New York City neighborhood guides.

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About the author

Ruthie Fierberg

Ruthie Fierberg is an independent arts journalist, editor, moderator, on-camera host, producer, and theatrical consultant based in New York City. She is the creator and host of the podcast Why We Theater on the Broadway Podcast Network, which digs into the onstage works we love to create the offstage change we need. Find more at ruthiefierberg.com and follow her IG: @ruthiefierceberg / Twitter: @RuthiesATrain.