You’re never at a loss for options when deciding what and where to eat in New York. The city is home to just about every cuisine on the planet and, thanks to the proliferation of food halls across the five boroughs, you can often find all of these side-by-side under one roof. Here are eight noteworthy establishments worth exploring on your next trip.
Urbanspace at 570 Lex may be Midtown’s newest food hall, but the company running the show – Urban Space Management, which specialises in urban regeneration initiatives – was founded in 1970. The vision behind the project was to breathe life into neglected buildings by transforming them into hotspots for commercial and social gatherings. This food hall embodies that vision by uniting 16 vendors – including small food businesses like Roberta’s Pizza, Bao by Kaya and Bobwhite Counter – in a historic Art Deco building. Stop by Top Hops to get some craft beer, which pairs perfectly with a slice of pizza.
This much-lauded food hall in Lower Manhattan checks a lot of boxes. Niche international cuisine? Check. Healthy options? Yes. David Chang’s fried chicken? You got it. This place is so serious about food that there’s even an on-site culinary school. It’s not just for those looking to launch a career in the food industry either. Enrol in one of the school’s recreational classes to up your personal kitchen game, then reward your efforts with a parade of dumplings from Northern Tiger, sashimi from Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar or a bagel sandwich stuffed with smoked salmon and tobiko cream cheese from Black Seed Bagels.
At twenty years old, Chelsea Market – the grande dame of New York’s food hall scene and an iconic landmark in its own right – brings in more than six million visitors annually to feast on treats whipped up by its 35 or so vendors. It’s a solid food hall pick no matter what time of day you stop by, thanks to the sheer volume of tenants plying their trade. Your best bet for navigating this maze of an institution is by joining an organised tour. With the help of an expert guide, you’ll have the chance to sample market highlights like Australian meat pies, Vietnamese sandwiches, fresh seafood and crêpes.
The New York Times gave its blessing to Gotham West Market back when it opened in 2014 – giving it two stars on a scale that runs from zero to four – just as the Big Apple food hall trend started to take shape. This Hell’s Kitchen destination houses 10 vendors and a bicycle shop, so you can tuck into Shanghai street food while waiting for your bike to get tuned up. It’s nearly impossible to resist the allure of Ivan Ramen, where you can sample chef Ivan Orkin’s pork belly buns, shoyu ramen (with a soy sauce base) and Asian take on a Caesar salad. Also drop by Waffle de Lys, which will blow your mind with its prosciutto and melted Brie waffle.
DeKalb Market Hall is a neon-lit explosion of food delights sprawling over 5,575m² in Downtown Brooklyn. Browse goods from its 40 vendors while soaking up live music and magnificent aromas emanating from the various stalls. While you can certainly pop in for a healthy bite (try the vegetarian hit Two Tablespoons), you’re going to find many more options on the other end of the spectrum, like churro ice cream sandwiches and cheeseburgers packed with three beef patties. On your way out, stock up on groceries at the conveniently located butcher shop, artisanal cheese counter and bakery.
Welcome to the Rolls-Royce of New York food halls. The Plaza Food Hall is the most luxe food hall in town, located on the concourse level of the five-star Plaza Hotel. After working up an appetite by exploring the nearby Central Park, stroll over to refuel with the finer things in life. Popular lobster roll purveyor Luke’s Lobster has an outpost here, and you can also take your pick of matcha macarons, chocolate truffles and Lady M Confections’ decadent crêpe cakes. If you have the time for a proper meal, grab a table at the Todd English Food Hall restaurant. The celebrity chef’s eatery boasts raw bar towers, lobster Cobb salads and creative cocktails.
7. City Kitchen
Rolling into its third year, Times Square’s City Kitchen houses seven vendors to satisfy a range of comfort food cravings in the city’s tourist mecca. On the sweet side, there’s Dough, an artisanal doughnut spot with flavours like dulce de leche with almonds, as well as chocolate caramel sea salt. You’ll also find plenty of savoury places to fill up on some slightly more nutritious grub before the sugar rush. Pick up a colourful spiced chicken rice bowl with a side of Brussels sprouts from Mediterranean vendor Ilili Box if you’re looking for something to balance out your impending doughnut binge.
The Big Apple’s art and food worlds come together at Canal Street Market, the newest retail market and food hall to set up shop at the nexus of Chinatown and SoHo. The showstopper here is Bonsai Kakigori, New York’s first Japanese shaved ice café that serves up flavours like spiced apple caramel, campfire s’mores and coconut crunch. Come for the eats and stay for the regular art exhibitions and special events, and to peruse the retail offerings, including plant store Bodega Rose, homewares shop Leibal and Keap Candles, where you can pick up scented candles made from coconut wax.
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This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine.