The Upper East Side is known for being the land of two main things: private school children and stuffy wealthy people. Thus, the area isn’t really known for its food. But, living there for over four years now and thoroughly explored the neighborhood’s food scene, I have discovered that is not the case.

The Upper East Side is now home to some really good food. But, generally, people tend to always recommend the same restaurants. While these restaurants are pretty good, I feel like lived get as much recognition as they deserve. So here’s my guide to all the Upper East Side hidden gems that you’ve probably never heard of.

Hutch and Waldo

This Australian cafe feels like you’ve been transported to Melbourne, or at the very least downtown. This breezy cafe owned by pro-rugby player, Alastair McFarland, spills out onto the sidewalk. It is the perfect place to grab a quick, healthy-ish bite or relax. Their grilled cheese, breakfast sandwich, and chicken burger are standouts, although you can’t go wrong with any of their items. Their drinks are also really good, especially their refreshing cold pressed juices. 


This hole in the wall serves some of the best sushi on the Upper East Side, and is run by native Japanese. It only has a few tables, and you’ll probably be the only people in there, but don’t let that deter you. Their fish is incredibly fresh and of high-quality, with some of it even coming straight from Japan. To sample the best fish they have at the moment, get either the sushi combo or the chirashi, which is rice topped with an assortment of raw fish. Their food runs on the expensive side, so maybe save this place for a special occasion or come by for their much more affordable cash-only lunch specials. 


Another tiny Japanese hole in the wall, this restaurant is another one I would bookmark to a special event. They specialise in Japanese food that doesn’t involve sushi. Come here for their tasting menu or kaiseki, a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner.


You guessed it. Another tiny Japanese restaurant, except this one mainly serves cooked Japanese small plates, including many Japanese takes on western dishes. Come here for the tomato, egg, and cheese soup, where you smash the tomato to create the soup, or one of their sets, such as their homemade croquette set. 

Little Frog

This French restaurant is great for birthdays, or when you want to impress someone. Their freshly baked fougasse, an herby leaf-shaped bread sprinkled with sea salt and served here warm, is some of the best complimentary bread I've ever had. Their mussels and fries, whole grilled dorade, and burger are all excellent entree choices. If you come here with friends and feel like splurging, definitely get their flambeed whole duck. Don't forget to save room for their floating island dessert, which is composed of meringue that's been poached in milk perched atop custard, sprinkled with crushed up caramel. 


This Mexican restaurant's bright instagram-worthy interior makes you feel like you're on vacation in Mexico. But the decor isn't the only thing that's great about it. The food is pretty good as well, especially their chicken enchiladas and their take on a cobb salad that includes grilled cheese. 

Mellow Yellow

This brightly colored cafe not only has a whole array of smoothies for when you're on that health kick, but also serves insanely delicious Mediterranean food. Their menu is pretty limited, so you can't really go wrong, but I personally love their shakshuka, or eggs baked in tomato sauce, which is served with pita bread and two of their sides.

Momokawa Sushi

Another excellent Japanese restaurant, they have pretty solid sushi, although their specialty is their beef sukiyaki, which is the Japanese version of hotpot. Dinner can get expensive, so once again, I would recommend coming here for lunch. 


Who knew the Upper East Side had good Southern food? This Cajun-Creole restaurant will make you feel like you're in New Orleans, with an atmosphere to match. They offer all the specialties of the region: gumbo, jambalaya, po' boys, boudin balls, and even beignets.

So the next time you visit Museum Mile, or go shopping along Madison Avenue, definitely check out some of these Upper East Side hidden gems. Or even if you're looking for a new place to try for dinner, don't count the Upper East Side out. Trust me, your stomach will thank you.