Illustration: Naomi Otsu

Thanks to dropping rents and the arrival of some younger residents, the UES’s reputation as a sleepy restaurant desert is changing. Take Hoexters, a tavern that mixes martinis with smashburgers and mortadella plates in a room adorned with a 17-foot mural that once hung in the original Hoexter’s Market (it was around the corner), depicting that restaurant’s regulars. Alexandra Shapiro’s father owned that spot, and with his blessing, she revived the name in an effort to recapture a bit of that bygone energy. What’s the biggest thing that’s changed since then? “Probably less drugs,” she says, “from what I understand about the ’70s.” Here, a handful of places that are helping to shake up the neighborhood a little more.

1825 Second Ave., nr. 95th St.;

Toloache chef Julian Medina’s upscale Michoacán spot, with lobster birria tacos and duck carnitas in mole. His take on pasta seca is Mexican-style “dan dan noodles” with longaniza sausage and chipotles.

1725 Second Ave., nr. 89th St.;

This expansion of the Brooklyn-originated chain brings in Palestinian classics like mansaf and ouzi. Also of note: It’s BYOB.

300 E. 88th St., nr. Second Ave.;

Every sandwich is named for a member of the family at this sandwich-counter mini-empire. Take an “Uncle Jimmy” — prosciutto, soppressata, mozzarella, sweet peppers, and Calabrian chile on stirato bread — to eat in Central Park.

1712 First Ave., nr. 89th St.;

The homestyle southern kitchen serves a fiery Cajun chicken sando and jambalaya “remixed” as arancini in a comfortable space that feels like a friend’s living room.

151 E. 82nd St., nr. Lexington Ave.;

Nonna-grade pastas, chicken parm, and cracker-thin, Roman-style pizzas — also from chef Medina. Get a pie with soppressata and peaches.

174 E. 82nd St., nr. Third Ave.;

With its crowded front bar, secluded back dining room, and menu of American standards, the mood at this revamped throwback might be best described as “Raoul’s North.”

1553 Second Ave., nr. 81st St.;

The regional Thai menu features whole branzino in a spicy and sour curry of shrimp paste, chile, and tamarind. It’s served in a palatial setting inspired by the Wat Arun temple in Bangkok.

140 E. 74th St., nr. Lexington Ave.;

A Parisian restaurant with Basque sympathies — like the San Sebastián deviled-crab dish known as txangurro a la donostiarra — will open this summer from the owners of Sushi Noz.

10–07 Lexington Ave., nr. 73rd St.;

The house specialty is bandeja paisa, a traditional Colombian mixed grill; the passion-fruit mojitos, arepa plates, and tropical décor bolster the vacation vibes.

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