NFT New York Upper West Side (Upper)

Upper West Side (Upper)

Close to Columbia University, this neighborhood is home to much of New York's liberal intelligentsia. It is not uncommon to overhear discussions about the fate of health care reform or the latest Phillip Roth novel at the dog run, or on line for coffee at a neighborhood bakery. But the neighborhood is far from snobby. Mixed in with the college professors, theater directors, doctors, and lawyers are many families with young children, and twenty-somethings, all of whom enjoy the slower pace of life and physical beauty of Manhattan's Upper West Side.

This neighborhood is one of the greenest spaces in New York. Situated between Riverside and Central Park, there are many places to run, bike, or sit in the shade of a tree. There are few tourist attractions in this part of Central Park, but the natural beauty of the park and its recreational spaces are abundant. You can enter the reservoir from this end of the park, and enjoy a scenic view while running 1.6 miles around a dirt path. Walking west from Central Park to Riverside Park, peek into See more.

>Pomander Walk, a tiny, pedestrian-only street of tiny houses. In Riverside Park, take the time to explore the many famous monuments. After 9/11, neighborhood residents gathered at the Fireman's Memorial to commemorate those that were lost. The statue of Joan of Arc sits within an island on Riverside Drive that is maintained by neighborhood residents. Dedicated on Memorial Day in 1902 and modeled after a Corinthian temple, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument commemorates those who served during the Civil War. If you're just looking for some place to sit and read, Straus Park, a small green island between West End and Broadway, offers a quiet spot to rest amid the bustle of the street.

For a neighborhood so far from the bustling theater hub of Times Square and Museum Mile, the Upper West Side offers its fair share of cultural entertainment. Symphony Space is a multidisciplinary arts center. There is always a reading or concert on the main stage, and the Leonard Nimoy Thalia next door is always showing a classic movie. Symphony Space also occasionally hosts free marathon concerts, and is known for its fun "Wall To Wall" series. Come early to get a seat and stay as long as you want. For jazz, check out Smoke; many well-known musicians perform. They also have excellent food. The Underground Lounge hosts decent comedy nights and also occasionally has live music. The West Side Arts Coalition sponsors visual arts exhibitions at the Broadway Mall Community Center in a renovated Beaux-Arts building in the middle of Broadway. El Taller Latino Americano has live music, salsa dancing and an occasional film, as well as Spanish classes, all very affordable.

For cheap drinks, check out Abbey Pub or Broadway Dive. For a good LGBT spot, head to Suite. Go Euro with the Beligum brews at B. Cafe. Cleopatra's Needle is jamming with open mike and jam sessions around the grand piano and Smoke is, uh, smokin' with live jazz. The Village Pourhouse is where the football fans and softball teams go.

Wait in line for bagels and lox at Barney Greengrass. Jam econo with the rice & beans at either Flor de Mayo or El Malecon. Dine on awesome Mexican at Taqueri Y Fonda and rich Indian at Indus Valley. On the go? Swing by Roti Roll for Indian treats, Absolute Bagels for freshness right out of the oven, and pastry rivaling what you'd find in Paris at Silver Moon Bakery.

Looking for a nice bottle of wine to bring to dinner? Try Whole Foods Wine, which is the first branch of the upscale grocery store to have one. Barzini's has nice fresh produce as does Garden of Eden. For smoked fish and prepared foods try The Kosher Marketplace. Schatzie's is the best butcher around and Joon Fine Seafood has fresh fish at fair prices.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Robert Moses Commands

By Michael Massmann
Sure, he's a controversial figure, but ain't you glad we got fast-moving roadways, tunnels and heaps of stark, unvarying violence-inciting public housing? Michael Massman chronicles the mind (or maybe just the history) of the 20th century Machiavelli.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Absolute Bagels
Here's a question/challenge to the entire City of New York: Why aren't there more great bagel places like Absolute on the Upper West Side. The bagels are perfect, not too big (or too small), and perfectly cooked every time. They're usually right-out-of-the-oven warm. And they have the really hard to find pumpernickel raisin. So why isn't there a place like this on every corner of the city? Have we given up hope on all things good in the world? Maybe we should be protesting outside the lame "bagel" shops and the Hot and Crusty/Bread Factory-type places that have infiltrated the city. Instead of giving them money let's make ridiculously long lines outside of Absolute, Kossar's, David's, Bagelworks, etc. I mean we’re in the motherf*#kin’ best city in the world, and we only have a handful of good bagel shops left in the city? The bagel revolution starts now.

Posted By:  Molly Fergus
Photo:  Molly Fergus

A Cafe and Wine Room
Maybe you're the type of diner who scopes out BYOB restaurants so that you can enjoy a fine meal and nice wine on a budget. Or maybe you're the type who brings a Trader Joe's wine carrier full of Charles Shaw, orders one entree, and "looks" at the dessert menu so you have more time to drink. Whatever. You should both go to A Cafe and Wine Room, a French-Caribbean BYOB spot near Columbia. Gourmands, pick an appetizer and an entree for just $20 during the 6 to 8 pm prix fixe special. Lushes, thank the management for skipping the corkage fee. Everyone else, tip your waitress well if she hunts down pliers to open your (second) bottle of champagne.

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Barney Greengrass
Barney is the self-proclaimed "The Sturgeon King." Ok, so it's not as catchy as "The King of Pop," but for Mr. Greengrass this gig works just fine. Try to get up early on Sunday to beat the crowds. You'll be rewarded with service that is 100% New York attitude (in a good way), classic diner coffee cups, and a simple decor that harkens back to the good old days. Order like a local and get the sturgeon with a toasted bialy on the side. The place is so heartwarming that you won't even realize you just spent $17.75 on eggs and fish until your half way to Central Park for your post-brunch walk.

Posted By:  Sarah Moroz
Photo:  Sarah Moroz

Urban Outfitters
Anyone else find it ironic that Urban Outfitters--purveyor of of-the-moment trends and sometimes disposable fashions--will be housed in a been-there-since-1932 staple piece of real estate? The space, located at Broadway and 99th Street, is a whopping 15,000-square-feet (with 50-foot ceilings, no less). Formerly the Metro movie theater, its intact Art Deco period details are soon to be eclipsed by a student army seeking flannel shirts, plastic accessories, and earrings that break in ten seconds. If Uptowners weren't already bemoaning to Columbia takeover, they're unlikely to be pleased with this development...

Posted By:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Courtesy of Symphony Space

Symphony Space
When Alec Guinness died in 2000, most Americans only knew him for his role as Obi Won Kenobi in Star Wars. Some also recalled his roles in David Lean’s epic films as well. Prior to those star turns, however, the British actor was well known for his comedic work in the 50s and 60s. Symphony Space is showcasing that part of his career by screening many of his Earling Studio films. Kind Hearts and Coronets, in which he plays 12 different members of the same family (of both genders), is perhaps the best known these days, but others, such as the caper comedies The Ladykillers and The Lavender Hill Mob, are a lot of fun. These films are definitely simpler and low budget compared to blockbuster films like Bridge on the River Kwai or Star Wars, so it’s not surprising that Guinness’s later work would overshadow everything else, but his acting was always superb and his comedic abilities deft. He may have cringed at having “the force,” but he certainly had a gift for acting.


Posted By:  Joshua Cochran
Photo:  Joshua Cochran

SIP is one of those quiet new spots that hasn't yet been discovered by the throngs. Located on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side, it's only a matter of time before you'll have to elbow your way through Columbia grad students and perennial New Yorkers to order your favorite delight. SIP is a two-pronged establishment, serving the best coffee and tea I've found in the city throughout the day, and providing a cozy and comfortable atmosphere for drinks and conversation at night. The tea is all loose-leaf, organic, and of the finest varieties (try the green—it's out of this world), and the coffee is also organic, imported from select producers. No Cafe Bustelo in a blue paper cup here. At night, try one of their Mojitos, served up just the way you like, or any one of their custom specialty drinks. The atmosphere is unique, intimate, and the perfect place to take a date. Within the next month or so, owner Matt (who is often on-site and readily accessible) plans on adding a menu for lunch and dinner. You can bet that the food, like the tea, coffee, and drinks, will be phenomenal.

Posted By:  Joshua Cochran
Photo:  Joshua Cochran

There are few things in life you can still count on, such as a cozy place with swank where you can consistently hear fantasmo jazz. Smoke Jazz Club and Lounge, a closet-sized spot on the Upper West Side, delivers exactly that. The jazz sets here are generally solidÑtypically starting at 9 pm and 11 pm each night. Early Thursdays run from 6:30 pm to 9 pm, and are great for the open jam and moments of increased spontaneity. While there is usually no cover for nightly sets, there is a drink minimum rang-ing from $15 to $20 per person. Service is classy and attentive, and the seating can be a little crowded as is appropriate for a jazz club. The majority of the bands that perform are fairly con-temporary and usually cover standards, but just as often dip into an innovative, experimental groove. Check the clubÕs website for specific groups, and be warned: even with the tempting name, smokers will be disappointed to discover that, no, you cannot smoke inside.

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