Where to Grab a Quick Lunch on the Upper East Side
Let’s paint a brief picture, shall we? You’re relaxing on the Upper East Side, taking it easy in one of the most fabulous apartments in Manhattan. You’ve got some business to attend to in the afternoon, but you’re starting to get famished, and could use a quick bite to eat. What do you do? Seeing as you’re on the Upper East Side, home to some of the city’s best restaurants, you can just head out for a fast (but quality) lunch and be back in time to fulfill all your other obligations.
Which restaurant should you head to, though? There’s no shortage of lists to peruse, of course. The Infatuation, Eater, Thrillist, and more all have their picks on which restaurants top the charts in the Upper East Side. We’ve got a few ideas of our own, though, and have put together these suggestions based on what you might be in the mood for eating. Read on, and prepare to enjoy a quick lunch like no other.
Head to Flora Bar if You Want Small Plates and Cool Decor
“It’s like a museum restaurant, but not really a museum restaurant.” You may well have heard these words uttered in reference to Flora Bar, the brainchild of co-owners and chefs Thomas Carter and Ignacio Mattos.
After the Whitney Building became the Met Breuer, the pair moved into the downstairs area with their new establishment, a mix of American and European sensibilities:
“Flora Bar takes inspiration from lively, approachable restaurants in New York and Europe and is open beyond museum hours. The menu emphasizes seafood and vegetables and strives to be tasty and playful.”
Among those many offerings, we hear the lobster dumplings, seaweed-wrapped scallops, and sea urchin are of particular note.
Check out Sushi Seki for Sushi in a Comfortable Atmosphere
Sushi Seki has several locations throughout Manhattan, and the Upper East Side spot is no less worthy of praise than its Times Square and Chelsea brethren.
There are countless sushi offerings here, and they’re all outstanding. With so much to choose from, you’ll likely be tempted to get a bit of everything — a fair approach if you’ve got pockets deep enough to accommodate Sushi Seki’s equally legendary prices.
Get a Great Sandwich from Pastrami Queen
Who doesn’t love a great sandwich? That’s part of the thinking behind #1 Zagat-rated establishment Pastrami Queen, and they’ve been serving up some of the best in Upper East Side sandwich fare for more than 30 years.
Head over to Lexington Avenue to enjoy this fan-favorite sandwich shop, and while you could stick with the classic hot pastrami sandwich (and we definitely wouldn’t judge you for doing so) you can also try any of the other fabulously-meaty offerings on the menu, or even opt for a vegetarian/vegan sandwich option if that suits your diet better.
Try Some Fancy Mexican Food at Toloache 82
Upscale and Mexican? You can find this match made in heaven at Toloache 82, chef/owner Julian Medina’s stellar establishment on East 82nd Street.
You’ll find all kinds of creative fare on the menu here (the Enchiladas Borracha are a particularly tasty lunchtime treat), and chef Medina brought the full measure of his extensive background in the culinary arts to Toloache’s offerings:
“Julian truly came into his own with the opening of Toloache in August 2007. The restaurant offers a creative, contemporary Mexican bistro menu with a focus on seasonal natural ingredients, and has quickly become a Theater District favorite.”
Most who grace the doors of Toloache 82 agree, and you’ll likely form a similar opinion upon heading here for a few bites.
Sate Your Ramen Urge at Naruto
A bowl of broth and noodles does wonders on a rainy day, but even during a completely sunny one, you’ll enjoy what they’re serving up over at Naruto.
Open daily from 12:00PM to 10:45PM, they’re practically begging you to come in for a lunchtime meal, and you’ll have plenty to pick from after gracing their doors. It’s not just the diverse ramen bowls (though they are a big hit) — the gyoza, teriyaki, kurobuta sausage, and pork buns all make for great appetizers too.
Satisfy That Burger Craving at JG Melon
Just like sandwiches, burgers go great with lunchtime. For great burgers, you needn’t travel any further than JG Melon, home of New York City’s fines (according to many). Head to the Upper East Side location on 3rd Avenue, and you’ll also be heading to JG Melon’s home, the original spot that opened up all the way back in 1972.
Doesn’t much matter which burger you choose in particular; near everything at JG Melon is known for being both delicious and filling, so for a quick lunch that will carry you through the day, you’ll have a hard time finding anything better.
Enjoy Your Thai Favorites at Up Thai
It’s hard to go wrong with Thai food. It’s also challenging to find an establishment that really sticks out from the pack, but that’s exactly what you’ll get with Up Thai, which brings the best of “savory Thai classics and surprising signature dishes” right to the Upper East Side.
Beyond the usual fare like spring rolls, rice, noodles, and dumplings, you can enjoy some more creative cuisine like Moo Ping, Thai-herbed wings, and Thai steamed mussels. It’s an eclectic mix of great food, so be sure to give it shot if you’re hungry for some Thai food that pushes the boundaries.
If You Want It Home-Cooked, You Can Stick to the Apartments in Manhattan
There’s always a chance that you don’t feel like heading out for lunch. We wouldn’t blame you, and thankfully, the spectacular kitchens in Upper East Side gems like Renoir House are made for serious cooking. If you’ve got the ingredients (and the desire to whip up a meal all your own), why not give it a shot? It’s yet another feature that makes living here so enjoyable; you can add it to the list of all the reasons this Upper East Side experience sets the bar for superior Manhattan living.