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Upper West Side: idk tonight’s Top 10 Date Night Picks

By: Sarah Saxty

The Upper West Side almost seems like a staycation when explored properly—it has so much more to offer than just being the area to go and look for dinner options after a day on the grass in Central Park. With its big old mansions that are filled with history, access to not just Central Park, but also to the Hudson River parks, and a plethora of shows—The Lincoln Center plays jazz, ballet, and opera—you’ll even find some of the best history museums in the city here too. So, pack a water bottle, pull out your Google Maps and get ready to plan your next weekend escape.

idk tonight's Top Ten Date Night Picks—Upper West Side

Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway, Manhattan

“Let’s catch a show, remember when people used to catch a show?” Jerry Seinfeld would say, and catch Jerry you can at the Beacon Theatre. This historic landmark of the Upper West Side originally opened in 1929 as a movie palace for folks to watch movies and vaudeville. Designed by the Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager, many of the art-deco details have been thoughtfully preserved, keeping a lot of its original character. The theater has hosted many big stars like Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers and continues to bring a diverse mix of performances to the city. Of course, if you’re planning on rolling with Seinfeld, we suggest you start looking at tickets earlier rather than later…

beacon theater nyc
Credit: NYCGo
2245 Broadway, Manhattan

For Downtown friends, think of Zabar’s as the Russ & Daughters without the tourists, Citarella without the price tag and Dean & Deluca without the gloss. The gourmet deli and grocer has a couple of locations, but this one has been in the same place for 80 years supplying UWS locals with all the essentials. Zabar’s makes for the ultimate picnic basket pitstop, stock up on flatbreads and an array of authentic, tasty, Mediterranean dips and spreads plus a bunch of other bites that just seem impossible to resist.

zabar's nyc
Credit: I Love The Upper West Side
Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan

In a city that takes bagels and lox pretty seriously, Barney Greengrass is a spot to immediately put on your radar if it’s not there already. A well-deserved institution in NYC and often voted number one deli, Barney Greengrass is a true neighborhood gem and the ultimate destination for smoked fish. The spot opened in 1908 and unless you looked out the window, you might feel like you’d taken a step back in time. Back in the day, Alfred Hitchcock used to order 10 pounds of it to be shipped to him in Hollywood—today you’ll find generations of New Yorkers and visitors coming together over fresh-baked bagels, luxurious caviars, salty lox and melt in your mouth babkas. Be warned of lines on the weekends.

barney greengrass nyc
Credit: Chey Chey from the Bay
Riverside Park
72nd to 158th Streets along the Hudson River, Manhattan

The Upper West Side is one of the only areas in New York that is quite literally sandwiched between two of the city’s best green parks and recreation areas, surrounded by miles of beautiful, leafy green space and waterfront views at the Riverside Park. The scenic stretch along the Hudson River is home to a host of activities in the warmer months, from running and bike paths to sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, baseball, volleyball and even a roller-skating rink! It is one of only eight officially designated scenic landmarks in New York City and is one of our most spectacular waterfront parks. Fill up that picnic basket at Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass, grab a bottle of wine, (duh) then head west to enjoy a live performance—the summer events calendar is jam-packed and includes a plethora of live music, arts and more.

riverside park nyc
Credit: NYC Parks
502 Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan

The real star of this show, is Carmine, the owner of Celeste—one of the Upper West Side’s most-loved, homestyle Italian trattorias. Carmine somehow manages to play the role of host, waiter, head chef, maitre-de and owner all without breaking a sweat. Just like in Italy, there are no wine menus here, just red or white—but that doesn’t mean you cut out on quality. Give our mate Carmine a hint of your drinking style, and before you know it, he’s back at your side pouring a glass and opening another bottle for you. In true trattoria style, the fit out is simple—wooden chairs and tables with comforting vibes that make you feel at home instantly. With a few glasses of wine in you, you’ll be ready to dig into the menu, and you’re in for a treat there too. Our favorite thing to start with is the Involtini Di Melanzane, eggplant rolls stuffed with prosciutto and pecorino cheese, then baked with tomato sauce. “You like eeet eh?”

celeste nyc

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The Green Flea Market
100 West 77th Street, Manhattan

Located on 77th Street, The Green Flea Market has been touted as one of the city’s best indoor and outdoor markets. It is also one of the oldest and largest, hosting a huge selection of vendors selling their wares, antiques, vintage clothes and accessories, collectibles, artisan crafts, and more every Sunday from 10am—5:30pm. The best markets in our minds are the ones that are loaded up with treasures just waiting to be discovered, and are reasonably priced. If they just happen to also sell locally made gourmet food and treats to keep us sustained during that treasure hunt, even better. The Green Flea ticks all of those boxes.

green flea market nyc
Credit: Green Flea Market
Cleopatra's Needle
2485 Broadway, Manhattan

A jazz bar with no cover, is there such a thing? There is on the Upper West Side, and it comes in the form of Cleopatra’s Needle, a jazz nightspot named after the famed monument in Central Park. Cleo’s, as the regulars like to call it, is known for serving up easy Middle Eastern Food and a killer happy hour, from Monday-Saturday, 4—7 PM. The humble bar has also become beloved for its weekly open-mic night for singers, and late-night jam sessions for night owls. The bar is haphazardly decorated (not unfamiliar for New York’s local jazz scene). Strings of Halloween lights blink over the bar, and an unexpected collection of porcelain figurines occupy the intimate room, with sprigs of green randomly poking from the ceiling. The jazz jam sessions attract a mix of up and coming and well-known jazz musicians of the world and the live tunes start at 8pm most nights, 4pm on Sundays and 7pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

cleopatra's needle nyc
Credit: Cleopatra's Needle, Facebook
Tarallucci e Vino
475 Columbus Avenue, Manhattan

Tarallucci e Vino brings the casual elegance reminiscent of the bars and trattorias dotted around Rome or Florence and promotes a sense of cool, casual ease just like Italians do. With a few locations through the city, we’re talking about the Upper West Side favorite, with sidewalk seating and an outdoor patio. In true Italian style, a lot of what you’ll find here is house-made, from the pastries counter to the pastas and other menu items. The owners are inspired by the Greenmarkets of New York and believe in producing only high quality, sustainable, and seasonal food with ingredients that they can source locally wherever possible. The wine list boasts some lovely Italian drops, a variety of which are made in family-owned vineyards that seem to compliment the clean, fresh food oh so well. The space is light and bright, with just the right amount of contemporary detail to remind you that you are in New York City after all.

taralluci e vino nyc
Credit: Taralluci e Vino
Mike's Bistro
131 East 54th Street, Manhattan

Mike’s is a bistro for our kosher friends, and is a big deal in the kosher world. Combining an elegant menu with a relaxed but bougie atmosphere, Mike’s could often be reserved as a special occasion kinda date place. It’s dimly lit, bustling and just the right amount of fancy. The menu is pretty vast, but to get you started—we are totally digging the handmade duck gnocchi. The good thing is you can have this as an appetizer too and save some room for the other dishes, like the Cassoulet—a stew usually made with beans and pork, in this instance, made instead with duck to create a kosher version of a homestyle classic. It’s pretty damn good. 

mike's bistro
Credit: Great Kosher Restaurants
NYC Ballet at Lincoln Center
10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan

Has one truly lived in New York without a trip to the Lincoln Center for a performance by the famed New York City Ballet Company? The NYCB company are highly-esteemed across the globe for their diverse and interesting approach to classical narratives, plus their more modern, contemporary artful pieces. It might be the opulence and grandeur of Lincoln Center itself or the diversity among the other guests you see during intermission sipping on champagne—but one thing is for sure, even if ballet isn’t your thing, this definitely is a date night in its essence. Feel like wearing a ball gown? Do it. Feel like not? Do that too. This is New York City and the ballet is for everyone. The summer season officially opens at the end of May and runs through October.

Credit: Lincoln Center

See Our Curated Date Ideas This Week