Compared to hot, chatty spots downtown, dining in the Upper East Side has traditionally been a pricey, buttoned-down affair with all the panache of mayo on white. But on a recent jaunt to 515 East 72nd Street, we noticed a bunch of neat restaurants and bars edging their way into Manhattan’s most sedate zip code.
Here are our favorite options when you feel like loosening your tie and your belt, all within five to ten minutes walking/waddling/stumbling distance from 515 East 72.
JBird Cocktails, 339 E. 75th St., (212) 288-8033
Craft bar JBird Cocktails moved from their Midtown digs earlier this year, partly because co-owner Jamie Hinojos lives across the street from the new location and didn’t want to travel downtown to catch a well-crafted drink. JBird keeps its boozy oeuvre creative without being fussy or overwhelming, and the hearty food is a perfect counterbalance to the sours, fizzes, swizzles, juleps, wine and beer that the star mixology team (Jason Littrell of Death & Co., Marshall Altier of 1534) has carefully picked.
Jones Wood Foundry, 401 E. 76th St., (212) 249-2700
A fastidiously decorated gastropub scooped up from England and plopped in the Upper East Side, Jones Wood Fountry serves up heart-warming Brit fare with an American twist. The excellent beer selection, decadent meat pies (our favorite is the lamb and rosemary) and cozy seating all beckon you to settle in and while away the hours.
Hospoda, 321 E. 73rd St., (212) 861-1038
Located on the ground floor of the Bohemian National Hall, Czech gem Hospoda delivers seasonal, farm-to-table Old World favorites in a darkly elegant setting. The flavors of the roast pork belly, poached eggs with chanterelles and slow-baked rabbit all leap off the plate, and the delicate portions mean that the dishes won’t weigh you down.
Andaz, 1378 First Ave., (212) 288-0288
Intimate without being cramped, this solid Indian restaurant makes spot-on vindaloo, korma and curries, as well as Southern specialties uttapam, dosa and idli. The attentive service, ridiculously affordable lunchtime buffet and pillowy naan all demand repeat visits — plus, little free desserts! Who could resist?
Vegan Divas, 1437 First Ave., (646) 499-4843
Owner Fernanda Capobianco is determined to tear down the notion of vegan desserts as bland less-thans; the bakery dishes out cakes, muffins and ice cream with pedigreed ingredients that’ll satisfy even the pickiest globetrotting foodie — shredded coconut from Sri Lanka for the macaroons, acai from Brazil for the frozen yogurt and passion-fruit puree from France for the mousse. We’ll take a dozen.