The Cool Kids’ Guide To The Upper East Side

The Upper East side does not have a reputation for being a cool area but more and more young people are moving there. Cheap rent reels them in, and cool bars, cute cafes, and fun vintage shops keep them here.

When you meet someone in New York City, one of the first things that comes up —assuming you engage in small talk for the first few minutes — is where you live. When you tell someone that you live on the Upper East Side (UES), their first reaction is usually “nice,” or maybe “my great aunt lives up there.” Or more truthfully, “I feel like I never get up there.” Hardly ever is someone’s first reaction, “what a cool area!” In fact, most people assume the Upper East Side is where rich grandparents have brownstones, and where people who are finally settling down move so that their kids can attend a boujee private school and play in the park.

The Upper East Side is also not a “cool” area, so landlords can’t (as easily) get away with charging $1,600 for a broom closet like the Lower East Side can.

But lately, the Upper East Side has actually been a great place to find a cheap apartment. Lots of the buildings are old as fuck, making them undesirable to the rich people who are traditionally known to live in the area. The Upper East Side is also not a “cool” area, so landlords can’t (as easily) get away with charging $1600 for a broom closet like the Lower East Side can.

Because of this, I’ve quickly realized that I’m not the only young creative living on the Upper East Side and confusing the aging finance bros when I take my morning commute in a fishnet t-shirt and spiked collar. Because to the untrained eye, the Upper East Side is just a boring clusterfuck of art museums, restaurants you can’t afford, and designer boutiques you definitely can’t afford.

But if you’re considering moving uptown, have a friend residing in the East 70’s, or want a reason to take the 4,5, or 6 train for once; we’ve got the cool kids guide to the Upper East Side. We talked to Alex, a PR executive and blogger, Kellie, who works in sales at Viacom, and Jason, who works in Finance, about their favorite spots on the Upper East Side so that you don’t end up in a café with a bunch of families and old people.

Pinocchio

Pinocchio, 1748 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10128, États-Unis

J.G. Melon

JG Melon, 1291 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021, États-Unis

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Flex Mussels

Flex Mussels, 174 E 82nd St, New York, NY 10028, États-Unis

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Pil Pil

Pil Pil, 265 E 78th St, New York, NY 10075, États-Unis

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Caffe Buon Gusto

Caffe Buon Gusto, 236 E 77th St # A, New York

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The Meatball Shop

The Meatball Shop, 1462 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075, États-Unis

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The Daisy

The Daisy, 1641 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

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Boqueria

Boqueria, 1460 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075

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Dorrian's Red Hand

Dorrian's Red Hand Restaurant, 1616 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028, États-Unis

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The Supply House

The Supply House, 1647 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028, États-Unis

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Infirmary

Infirmary NYC, 1720 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128, États-Unis

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The Penrose

The Penrose, 1590 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

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Bar Pleiades

Bar Pleiades, 20 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021, États-Unis

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Treadwell Park

Treadwell Park, 1125 1st Ave, New York, NY 10065

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DTUT

DTUT, 1744 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128, États-Unis

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Housing Works Thrift Shops

Housing Works Thrift Shops, 202 E 77th St, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

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Housing Works Thrift Shop, 1730 2nd Ave, New York

Housing Works Thrift Shop, 1730 2nd Ave, New York, État de New York, États-Unis

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Michael's, The Consignment Shop

Michael's, The Consignment Shop, 1041 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10075

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Linda Horn

Linda Horn, 1327 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10128, États-Unis

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Mixology Clothing Company, 1467 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028

Mixology Clothing Company, 1467 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028, États-Unis

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Food

The Upper East side is home to some world-renown and super fancy restaurants such as Daniel or Sushi Seki. Unfortunately, we can’t all drop hundreds of dollars on a tasting menu every night, especially if you’re a 20-something marketing assistant. Here are the restaurants that are equally friendly to your taste buds and your wallet.

 

Pinocchio

 

 

If you’re looking to eat like the locals in the neighborhood, Alex recommends this Italian spot. “With just about 10 tables inside and an owner that remembers you each time you come; these are the kind of spots that make me feel at home in the city,” she says. As an added bonus, nearly all of their pasta dishes ring in at below $20, which is a bargain in NYC.

Pinocchio, 1748 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10128

 

J.G. Melon

 

 

J.G. Melon has always been a pretty well-known NYC burger spot, but it’s been getting extra headlines lately due to Gigi Hadid routinely confessing her love for it. Kellie admits that she thinks it’s a little overrated, but if you’re into no-frills dining and classic burgers, it’s certainly worth checking out.

J.G. Melon, 1291 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021

 

Flex Mussels

 

 

Mussels and donuts may not be a combo that you typically crave, but this Upper East Side restaurant will have you thinking otherwise. Jason loves all the different mussel sauces, and the donuts — which they offer in sweet and savory flavors. And if you’re not into seafood? Don’t sweat it, the menu at Flex is big and has a ton of delish options for those who view fish as friends, not food.

Flex Mussels, 174 E 82nd St, New York, NY 10028

 

Pil Pil

 

 

Alex says that you’ll find her at this spot at least once a month, whether it be for dinner, drinks, or even brunch. She also says you can’t leave without trying the Mac & Cheese croquettes. If you’re not hitting this dimly lit spot with a group of friends, Alex also says it’d be a good date spot.

Pil Pil, 265 E 78th St, New York, NY 10075

 

Café Buon Gusto

 

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Kellie’s favorite restaurant in her ‘hood is none other than this cheap and chic Italian spot. With a bunch of dishes under $11, it’s the perfect place to hit up when you’ve maxed out all your credit cards on Rosé and vintage sunglasses.

Caffe Buon Gusto, 236 E 77th St # A, New York

 

The Meatball Shop

 

 

The Meatball Shop has multiple locations, but their Upper East Side residence is definitely worth a visit. It’s one of few Upper East Side restaurants that stay open until late (2 am, to be exact) and if you stop in for a bucket of meatballs and want a nightcap, they offer free jello shots at the bar, says Kellie.

The Meatball Shop, 1462 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075

 

The Daisy

 

 

For those mornings where you’re hungover, need a mimosa, and can’t bear to sit on the subway for 30 minutes to get downtown, there’s The Daisy. Kellie loves their bottomless brunch, and their menu is always changing based on seasonal ingredients.

The Daisy, 1641 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

 

Boqueria

 

 

Boqueria has other locations in Soho, Flatiron and Fort Greene, but their newly opened UES spot is perfect for sharing tapas with your coworkers and drinking enough tequila to feel like you don’t hate your shitty entry-level job! Jason especially likes the bar seating in the back that gives a front-row seat to the open kitchen.

Boqueria, 1460 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075

Drinks

 

Dorrian’s Red Hands

 

 

Both Alex and Kellie mentioned Dorrians as a fave spot to get turnt in their neighborhood, and it’s no surprise as to why. Step into this dive bar and you’ll suddenly feel like you’re in college again, except this time you actually have enough money to buy drinks (JK, you probably still don’t). The good thing is that you’ll be totally fine. “I discovered Dorrian’s a few years ago when my friends and I stumbled into it after happy hour one night,” said Alex. “I haven’t looked back since.”

As you’d expect, the college vibe brings in many aging finance bros wanting to relive their glory days and get drunk while singing to Journey songs, but go with a good crew and you’ll be just fine. On most nights, one room plays throwback jams while the other plays Top 40.

Dorrian’s Red Hand, 1616 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

 

Supply House

 

 

If you’re looking for a place to watch the game, or a place to take your boo to watch the game where you won’t be surrounded by aggressive football-fans, this is a good spot. If you’re not headed there for the sports bar aspect, you can try going on a Thursday night when they have live music, which is one of Kellie’s favorite things about Supply House.

The Supply House, 1647 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

 

Infirmary

 

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Now that it’s spring, it’s time to take advantage of the NYC bars that allow you to enjoy that warm and slightly humid weather. “The bar has a great ambiance and is especially inviting in the warmer months when they open the front windows to let in the air,” says Alex. Unlike many outdoor and rooftop bars in NYC, Infirmary actually has affordable cocktails. Definitely a win-win.

Infirmary, 1720 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

 

Penrose

 

 

Kellie mentioned the Penrose as a cute date spot in the neighborhood, and we totally agree. Translation: take your latest Tinder match here. It’s a pretty well-known (and trendy) UES happy hour spot, so naturally Alex is also a fan. If your date goes well and you’ve moved on from a drink to ordering food, Alex recommends the fried chicken sandwich.

The Penrose, 1590 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

 

Bar Pleiades at The Surrey

 

 

What’s every broke 20-something’s favorite words in NYC? Free food. Jason loves The Surrey Hotel’s bar not only for its great drinks, but for the fact that they’re one of those amazing places that brings over snacks when you order a drink. What else could you need?

Bar Pleiades, 20 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021

 

Treadwell Park

 

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NYC bars are all about novelty items to distinguish themselves, and Treadwell Park is no different. The bar offers craft beers on tap and American bar bites, but also an array of pinball machines along the wall for the (drunk) kid in all of us. They also have ping pong, and although Kellie hasn’t ever seen anyone play beer pong there, maybe you could be the first!

Treadwell Park, 1125 1st Ave, New York, NY 10065

 

DTUT

 

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We’re big fans of cafes with good eats that transition into a bar-type atmosphere at night. “It’s a great spot to relax and enjoy a drink without subjecting yourself to those rowdy Friday night crowds,” says Alex. She also mentions that they have a bunch of board games for guests to play (while boozing, presumably). If you’re sick of the Meatpacking club scene and looking to simply enjoy some Jenga with a Gin & Tonic, this is the spot for you.

DTUT, 1744 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

Shopping

 

Housing Works Thrift Shop

If there’s any time to be thankful for the neighborhood’s boujee reputation, it’s when you’re perusing their thrift and consignment shops. These two Housing Works shops, mentioned by Jason, are just a few of many great resale shops on the Upper East Side.

Housing Works Thrift Shop, 202 E 77th St, New York
Housing Works Thrift Shop, 1730 2nd Ave, New York

 

Michael’s – The Consignment Shop

 

 

The reason that most of the young people who live on the Upper East Side don’t shop in their neighborhood is because Christian Louboutin isn’t in their budget, but do you know what might be in their budget? Christian Louboutin shoes that have been previously loved. Michael’s is one of the most famous consignment shops in NYC, and for good reason. They are stocked with designer merch at a fraction of the price. Granted, it’s not like you’re going to get a Prada bag for $10, but if you’re the type of person who wants to look like they’re balling on a budget, you should definitely check Michael’s out. If you don’t find anything, there’s another great consignment shop right next door.

Michael’s, The Consignment Shop, 1041 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10075

 

Linda Horn

Another of Jason’s fave antique shops is Linda Horn, an awesome store stocking everything from jewelry to ceramics. Being that they are antiques, they can be pretty pricey, but even if you’re not down to spend $300 on a throw pillow, you can peruse the eclectic racks and fantasize about having enough in your bank account to actually buy something.

Linda Horn, 1327 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10128

 

Mixology

 

 

If used goods aren’t your thing, Kellie recommends checking out Mixology, a cute clothing boutique for women which can cater to the Coachella-going girl or simply someone who needs a cocktail dress last minute on a Friday night. The prices are reasonable (dresses range from $54-190) and they have the perfect mix of sexy vs. classy.

Mixology Clothing Company, 1467 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028

Pictures courtesy of Ed Yourdon (Flickr Creative Commons)

Ashley Uzer is a NYC-based writer and artist with small hands and a big appetite. She dares you to find a food she won't try.
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