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Upland

Pia Mileaf-Patel

http://www.uplandnyc.com/

$40 a person, but make your parents take you ;)

What is this Upland restaurant that I hear about in some way almost every day (probably because I follow so many food blogs)? Upland is where I want my mom to take me out to lunch all the time. Perhaps the vibe is slightly out of place for a teen food guide (we went on a weekday and lots of tables were filled with people in suits reviewing files over lunch and a glass of wine), but the food is so so good, and even us youths get to feel like adults sometimes. Especially in the chic, California-y, pretty room, shutting out the 85 degrees plus humidity. And wow, is the salad at Upland incredible.

I don't usually dream of returning to a restaurant for a salad that they make. In fact, it sometimes feels like a missed dining opportunity to get salad when there are so many other delicious sounding options (sausage and kale pizza, roasted porchetta and egg sandwich!). But I do love salad when it's this great, and the Five Lettuce "Caesar"—the dressing was more tangy with anchovy than creamy or cheesy—was possibly the best thing we ate for lunch. And that's next to a creamy, well seasoned burrata with a punchy pickled pluot and thin sliced plums. And spicy, citrusy thin pieces of fluke. And crispy yuzu duck wings (enough said). All very difficult competition for a salad, and yet it was that good.

Upland, I decided, has the type of menu where I want to try everything. I can't wait to go back and try the beef tartare with my dad (my teammate in eating raw beef, liver, and everything else that's supposed to make teenagers shudder). Or the crispy chicken sandwich with avocado and bacon smash—the guy next to me had that and it looked every bit as irresistible as it sounds. All in addition to the Five Lettuce "Caesar" of course, because I can never return without ordering it! Luckily it's good for you.