Where to Eat Near Museum Mile: The Upper East Side’s Coolest Restaurants

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The Upper East Side is so much more than Birkin bags, mansion townhouses, and Madison Avenue. For one, it’s home to Museum Mile, the stretch of Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th streets where some of New York City’s (and the world’s) finest museums call home. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Guggenheim and Neue Galerie, the neighborhood is a haven for tourists and New Yorkers alike. In recent years, the Upper East Side has been trying to shed its image as a quiet neighborhood occupied by restaurants with a capital R, and many downtown restauranteurs have taken up residency east of Central Park. Here are some of the coolest restaurants on the Upper East Side, within walking distance to Museum Mile so you’ll never have to eat an overpriced sandwich again.

Pizza BeachThis SoCal-themed pizza spot opened earlier this year on Third Avenue with health-conscious ‘za offerings and surf vibes. Salads, veggie plates, and mains like fish tacos and grilled sea bass accompany the non-traditional pizza menu (though margherita is an option). (1426 Third Ave. at 81st St.)
What to order: The spicy Soppressata pizza with mozzarella or Thai coconut curry and rock shrimp pie with ginger and cilantro.
Nearby museums: Both the Met and Neue Galerie are less than a half-mile away.

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Photo courtesy of Pizza Beach

Wild Horse TavernFrom the owners of TriBeCa’s Church Street Tavern, this rock ‘n’ roll-themed spot is another bar fare destination in Yorkville. The restaurant just opened last month and is decorated with posters of the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin and more 1960s rock paraphernalia. The menu has a lot of global flavor but is sourced from across the boroughs — burgers are made with meat from West Village butcher Ottomanelli & Sons, pretzels are from Sigmund’s, and hot dogs are from charcuterie purveyor Schaller & Weber.
What to order: The Jersey Ripper hotdog, Eastside burger, and Vietnamese dip sandwich. (1629 Second Ave. at 85th St.)
Nearby museums: The Neue Galerie is a half-mile west; Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, National Academy Museum, and Guggenheim are less than a mile north. 

ABVThe owners of cheese and craft-beer focused Earl’s Wine and Cheese (another cool UES spot) are behind this brick-walled, Brooklyn-esque wine bar in what is technically known as East Harlem. The kitchen doles out elevated bar snacks, quality raw fish and shellfish, and seasonal vegetable dishes. And of course, alcohol by volume. (1504 Lexington Ave. at 97th St.)
What to order: Buttermilk fried chicken with the works — cider vinegar slaw, pickles, cornbread and honey butter, and wine by the glass.
Nearby museums: El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York are less than a mile north, and the Jewish Museum is a half-mile south.

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Photo courtesy of ABV

AugustThis bistro is cool by legacy — it used to occupy a tree-lined block of Bleecker in the West Village, but as is the case with anyone who has a landlord in New York City, the rents got too damn high. It transplanted to the rent-friendlier Upper East Side in September 2014. The Mediterranean-inspired menu has evolved since the restaurant opened in 2004 but the feel of trendy comfort food is the same; and don’t worry, this location has a back patio too. (791 Lexington Ave. at 61st St.)
What to orderSteamed mussels, cauliflower risotto.
Nearby museums: This spot is further removed from Museum Mile but still at a walkable distance and a great date-night option — it’s about a half-mile from the Frick Collection and a little more than a mile from the Met.

The Penrose: Since opening in 2012, this sister gastropub to Bowery hotspot The Wren has become the name to drop when referencing Upper East Side restaurants that are making the area cool. Its menu features chic American bar food, and lots and lots of whiskey. (1590 Second Ave. at 82nd St.)
What to order: Fried oyster sliders to share and the Penrose Burger, made with butcher-to-the-stars Pat La Frieda’s custom blend.
Nearby museums: Both the Met and Neue Galerie are less than a half-mile away.