Despite a hectic season so far, for those with allergies, warm weather has finally found itself to NYC which means it’s time to start venturing out come lunch time! So, if you happen to be either working on the Upper East Side or somehow just ended up there, here are some of the best lunch spots on the Upper East Side we suggest you give your taste buds a sample of!

The Candle Café on the Upper East Side

The unique story of Candle Café’s origins only adds to the already cute and charming appeal of the place. On Friday the 13th in 1993, Bart and Joy Pierson won $53,000 in the take-five lottery and Candle Café was born! The initial goal was to bring guests “food fresh from farm to table.” Since then, the restaurant has been serving an organic vegan menu comprised only of the freshest ingredients available. Defying the stereotype of bland and boring health food, Candle Café’s vegetarian dishes come with full flavor and first-rate ingredients. One of the most popular menu items is the seitan burger. Seitan, which has become a popular meat substitute, is served with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles on ciabatta with jalapeno aioli. The BBQ Tempeh Sandwich with roasted sweet potato, wilted kale, grilled red onion, and sage aioli on multi-grain bread is also a crowd favorite. Another fun option is the “Good Food Plate”. Customers get a choice of four sides and two dressings or sauces for $20. Some popular sides include soba noodles, grilled zucchini, quinoa-vegetable pilaf and sautéed wild mushrooms. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a health-conscious lunch in a vibrant and friendly atmosphere, Candle Café is an enjoyable place to do so.

Candle Cafe Website

Up Thai

A great restaurant for dinner with a full bar, Up Thai is also a great choice for lunch with its 3-course special. For only $9 you get a choice of soup or salad, an appetizer, and a main course. Some of the most popular dishes include the Ba Mee noodles, the Pineapple Fried Rice, and Panang Curry. The Ba Mee noodles feature egg noodles, BBQ roast pork, crab meat, and bok choy with a bowl of soup on the side. The Pineapple Fried Rice is served with onion, scallions, cashew nuts and fried egg, mixed with rice and topped with dried ground pork. The Panang Curry is prepared with string beans, bell pepper, kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk. Their unique dessert selection, including the Black Sticky Rice with Egg Custard is a nice way to wrap up the meal. With fresh ingredients, great prices and a stylish and large interior, Up Thai, is a nice lunch spot on the Upper East Side.

Up Thai Website


E.A.T. was Eli Zabar’s first shop, also owner of Eli’s Manhattan and Eli’s Breads. It features soups, sandwiches, salads, hot and cold dishes, and sweets and pastries. Some of the most in-demand selections include the Potato Pancakes with applesauce, the Broccoli Quiche with Field Salad and the Herb-Roasted Breast of Turkey with Haricots Verts. Everything is served with Eli’s Bread. Although the prices are definitely steep, E.A.T. is a nice place to splurge on a gourmet lunch before heading to the Met or shopping on the Upper East Side.

E.A.T. Website

Il Salumaio

Although not opened with the intentions of operating as a restaurant, Il Salumaio has quickly changed from a deli into a wine bar and restaurant. Cured meats still dangling at the back of the dining room, Il Salumaio is full of classic Italian charm and ambience. The menu features a wide selection of appetizers, salads, pastas, and paninis. The paninis, made by layering the ingredients on delicate focaccia baked in the pizzeria’s wood-burning oven are a delicious hit, specifically the San Matteo with roast pork, mushrooms and smoked mozzerella. The Monti Special with prosciutto, mozzerella, and olive paste is also a delectable combination. With satisfying portion sizes and satisfying prices, Il Salumaio is a convenient place to enjoy a simply tasty lunch.

Il Salumaio Website


Do you have an Upper East Side Lunch spot you think we should check out?  Let us know your favorite spots.

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About The Author

College student who likes to strike a "balance" between eating healthy meals and not so healthy desserts.