Anyone who’s lived in NYC in the last 50 years knows that the city has wanted to put in a Second Avenue Subway line. My mom has told me that they spoke of it when her and my dad lived here in the 70s. The Second Avenue Subway has been a plan and occasional construction project since 1929. What once seemed like a legend or tall tale is becoming a reality: the city has been building a Second Avenue subway since 2007. After several starts and interruptions, mostly due to lack of funding, the most recent and financially secure construction plan was launched in 2007 and has been making parts of the Upper East Side hideous every since. When it’s done it will be amazing, no doubt. Until then, its the definition of eye sore.

I live on Second Ave, one block south from a hub of the construction, and I would not move a block north no matter what. It’s difficult to walk at times, with the sidewalk either gone or cut down to a remaining third or quarter. But the UES is an amazing place to live: neighborhoody, friendly, familiar, and chock full of great restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, the construction, in some places, completely blocks the views of store fronts from the street. This has taken its toll on local businesses. Many have experienced diminished earnings or closed altogether. Aside from declining foot traffic due to the loss of sidewalk space, the construction has resulted in other disruptions in business, including sporadic loss of electrical power, delayed deliveries due to unannounced street closures, and spotty trash pick-up.

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But the Upper East Side has two new brave entrepreneurial ventures, new restaurants daring to open right in the thick of it. Fortunately, the area of Second Ave in the East 80s is very highly populated and still home to many successful businesses. Sriracha, Southeastern Asian cuisine, opened last week at the corner of East 84th. This corner location has seen multiple places come and go in the last few years, beginning with Jasmine (Thai), Pepe Patron (Mexican), and the recently expired Beet (burgers and sandwiches topped with signature beets, we saw that one coming). Sriracha restaurant is so new that there is no website or menu posted online, which is not a great thing or a good sign, but will have to do for now. I picked up a menu and the Southeastern Asian dishes cover Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Indonesian cooking. Yumbo. Sriracha’s menu offers a variety of tapas-style small plates, including Mussels Thai Style in green curry broth, Coconut Shrimp, Pan Seared Spare Ribs, Spicy Sliders with Indonesian spices, Malaysian BBQ Wings, and Satay Chicken or Lamb Kebabs. These range from $5 to $10. There are also noodle bowls, served in soup or stir fried, and rice dishes, $12 or $13. Very reasonable prices! The one Yelp reviewer so far stated that the atmosphere reminded her “of beach side restaurants in Thailand” and the decoration entails lots of bamboo sticks. I will try to check it out in the next month or so and I wish it the best in what has become a cursed location at this point.

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If you are familiar with the Upper East Side in the last few years, chances are you have been to Mustang’s, the beloved margarita joint that had a prime location on the corner of 85th Street. I went to Mustang’s all the time. The food was fine, not great, but the margarita pitchers were out of this world. You want a guaranteed buzz with friends for $35? Mustang’s. You want great people watching on the UES? Mustang’s outdoor patio. You want a cool bar with funky seats and cool atmosphere? Mustang’s inside rooms. Everyone I know was disappointed when Mustang’s closed, with rumors that they never paid rent leading to the closing (way to go guys, not cool). Whatever the reason, we all had to say goodbye to a beloved institution.

It’s been over a year with nothing taking over the location. Until now! MexiBBQ Kitchen and Draught, a popular spot in Astoria, will be moving to the neighborhood and opening in December. The sign is up outside and catching the eye of all eager neighborhood residents who have been waiting to see what new place will replace our old standby. MexiBBQ’s menu includes a variety of tasty Mexican and Southern classics, including guacamole you can have served with added spicy crab, crispy pork, or chicken cracklins’, pulled pork sandwich, fiesta nachos, and wings. There is a variety of Mexican and BBQ entree offerings, including BBQ brisket tacos, lobster cakes (yum), a few kinds of quesadillas, baby back ribs, and southern fried chicken.

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They will also be open for brunch, including this delicious looking egg benedict served over brisket, or your choice of smoked salmon or avocado slices. MexiBBQ will also have a great weekday happy hour, impressive list of draughts of all types, and a variety of margaritas (hooray!). Overall, the menu sounds and looks delicious/enticing and, based on the photos of the Astoria locale, the atmosphere should be good too. A mixture of dark brick and wood, cool, comfy, a bit dive-y. This should suit us just fine.

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Welcome to the neighborhood and best of luck!

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