Dining Near Central Park and Fall Foliage

Café Telio, Bodrum, Mido and Amalie are this season’s top picks for a casual lunch or dinner — perhaps after a walk in the park or weekend exploration of New York’s Upper West Side.

Manhattan is going to be a little bit different come this fall. We all know this. It is yet to be seen what exists in the new normal with our struggling eateries as the weather changes.  The good news is that outdoor dining has been extended indefinitely in the city.

My suggestion is that you put on a heavier jacket and visit the Upper West Side parks and tree-lined streets for the fall foliage and while you are at it, grab a bite to eat. There are so many places to choose from and too many to list but here are my suggestions for casual dining in between Central Park and Riverside Drive.

Mido, Bodrum, Amalie and Cafe Telio are four casual places that you should check out when in this neighborhood.

Mido is located on Amsterdam Avenue and 89th St. — this small Japanese restaurant with only six tables on the sidewalk, serves up some authentic cuisine with a gracious staff at very reasonable prices. They mostly rely on their take-out patrons but you could get a table on their threshold.

I typically visit Mido for the Bento Box, which is served only at lunch and you get several choices including sushi rolls, salmon or chicken teriyaki, several tempura options, etc. This comes with soup, salad, appetizer and rice.

For diner, I recommend their teriyaki salmon (above) served with steamed broccoli, carrots and roasted fingerling potatoes. Their hot Saki will take the chill out of the air and warm your spirit.

Menu & Directions: MIDO

Fresh from the Mediterranean, Bodrum on Amsterdam is a very popular place for locals serving up Turkish cuisine. There is a reason for its popularity. The food is amazing. I recently visited here with a friend with roots from Assyria — she attested that this was some of the best, authentic food she has tasted since moving to NYC. I could not disagree.

While their sign promotes pizza from a fire-burning oven — and many passed our table — I recommend the other appetizers and entrees. Their Shepherd Salad come with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, cubanelle pepper, red onions and parsley with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and crumbled french feta. To say fresh, healthy and tasty would be an understatement.

Their Mediterranean Specialties is a sampling platter with your choice of items: Sigara Borek – filo with feta and parsley, Hummus — chickpeas with garlic, lemon and olive oil, B’stila Djej — filo with chicken, cinnamon, fresh herbs and sprinkled with powder sugar, Turkish Patlican — eggplant with tomatoes, peppers, garlic and fresh herbs, Babaghanoush — charred eggplant with olive oil, garlic and tahini and Lebne — strained yogurt with walnuts, garlic and fresh dill. This plate is accompanied with some of the freshest bread that makes the dips a symphony of gastronomy perfection. Delicious.

You will need to make a reservation: BODRUM

Many people argue about the origins of the french fry. Well, I am on the side with the Belgians. This European country has been serving the wonderful strings of potatoes accompanied with mayonnaise (or aioli), mustard or ketchup if you insist, for decades. Amalie is the kind of brasserie to go for your fix of Steak-Frites and or steamed mussels (Moules Marinières).

The proprietor is very witty and entertaining and the views of the interior will make you pine for the old world, however, what will impress you most is the camaraderie of locals and visitors alike. My mind went on a brief vacation from reality as I dipped my fries and had a conversation 6 feet away from my neighbors.

While the Belgian draught beer flows from the taps, I also recommend that you try their flight of wines — you make your own choices from their extensive and select list. If you are uncertain, the server will help you choose according to your taste and desire.

This taste of New York’s UWS comes with a Flemish/French impact on U.S. cuisine. Think hearty and savory.

More info: AMELIE

Café Telio / Presto Pizza is the heart of the UWS and located on Broadway between 92nd and 93rd streets. I’ve been living up here for over 30 years and this family from Greece has been here almost as long. They are a neighborhood staple.

I recommend their pizza if you are in the mood for a quick slice or two in a pinch. However, their traditional Greek cuisine is as authentic as the Acropolis. This is what they are known for: Fresh Greek Salad with Feta, grilled Branzino and pasta, pasta, pasta. The portions are large and depending on your hunger pang, can usually take some home for a late-night snack or next day’s lunch.

The most important thing to know is that Café Telio now has live music every night with open mic on certain nights. You can hear the singing and all that jazz as you walk up the avenue.

Visit: Telio Restaurant

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