In New York City, you’re never at a loss for options when deciding what and where to eat. Despite the challenges of Covid-19 lockdowns, the Big Apple is still a city that never sleeps, and whether you want to start your day with a full breakfast soaking in the busy Midtown vibe or end your day with a stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge, you will be spoilt for choice. 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 10 noteworthy establishments worth exploring on your next trip.
This massive food hall in the sprawling Manhattan West complex – a part of the Hudson Yards redevelopment – opened in late 2021 and has several kiosks, a bar serving pastries during the day and craft cocktails into the evening, as well as fine-dining restaurants set to open soon. Nestled in a 16-storey building that was built in 1969 but renovated and renamed Five Manhattan West in 2014, the 3,700 sqm food hall is also next to a Whole Foods Market. Head to Umami Burger for the Black Garlic Burger, served with a 14-day fermented black garlic sauce and part of a menu crafted by Eggslut chef Alvin Cailan. For a healthier option, build your own vegetable bowl at Plant Nation, or tuck into a falafel at Mediterranean stall Soom Soom, and finish with a babka from EllaMia Bakery.
2. The Hugh
With its extra high ceiling and lush potted trees casually scattered across the sprawling space, dining at this Midtown East eatery feels like you’re hanging out at an elegant hotel lobby instead of a food hall. Named after Hugh Stubbins, the architect who built the Citigroup Center where it is located, The Hugh sits in the building’s atrium and has over 15 restaurants, as well as a wine bar and a craft beer taproom by Joseph Brothers. For a quick meal before you head to Fifth Avenue, the folded cheeseburger in a pita at Miznon is recommended, as are the Italian sandwiches at Alidoro. For something more filling, the Jumieka’s Jamaican jerk specialities will hit the spot. Fun fact: Stubbins was the architect behind Singapore’s former Treasury Building in Shenton Way, built in 1986, and now called the AXA Tower. At 52 storeys, it is one of the tallest cylindrical buildings in the world.
Occupying one of DUMBO’s well-photographed industrial buildings, Time Out Market’s fourth outpost in the States is easily one of the best-located eateries in the Big Apple, offering a view of the East River as well as both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. The food stalls here have been curated by the editors of the city guide magazine and includes Jacob’s Pickles, serving Southern comfort food and the wildly popular fried Oreos served with cinnamon cream on the side, as well as BKLYN Wild, which dishes out plant-based meals using ingredients sourced from Brooklyn. Before you leave, head to the rooftop and sip on a New York Sour while taking one for the ‘gram.
Opened by Urban Space Management, which specialises in breathing life into neglected buildings and transforming them into hotspots for commercial and social gatherings, this food hall unites delicious and diverse vendors in a historic Art Deco building (the former General Electric). Before heading to nearby Saks Fifth Avenue to shop till you drop, have an Italian sandwich with imported prosciutto di parma at Cappone’s, a spinach-and-cheese pie at Pita Yeero or a Szechuan cow bao at Bao by Kaya. Make sure to 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? 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 Bay area-style tacos from Dos Toros Taqueria, sashimi from Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar or a bagel sandwich stuffed with smoked salmon and tobiko cream cheese from Black Seed Bagels.
At over 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 New York’s food hall trend had started to take shape. This Hell’s Kitchen destination houses five vendors and a bicycle shop, so you can tuck into pastries while waiting for your bike to get tuned up. It’s nearly impossible to resist the allure of La Palapa where you can sample chef Barbara Sibley’s tacos and enchiladas. If you have the time, drop by Sushi on Jones x Donn Wagyu for their 12-course omakase, or treat yourself to a scoop of Ice, Ice, Baby at Mikey Likes It Ice Cream.
DeKalb Market Hall is a neon-lit explosion of food delights sprawling over 5,575 sq m in Downtown Brooklyn. Browse goods from its over 25 vendors while soaking up live music and magnificent aromas emanating from the various stalls. Pop in for a pastrami at A Taste of Katz’s, or an 80z beef burger with mint chutney and raita at Pakistani burger joint BK Jani. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with alcohol-infused donuts from Duzin’s Duzin or cookies filled with Italian meringue from The Flo. On your way out, stock up on groceries at the conveniently located butcher shop, artisanal cheese counter and bakery.
9. City Kitchen
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 shrimp, crab or lobster roll with a side of chips and pickle at Luke’s Lobster 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, a retail market and food hall at the nexus of Chinatown and SoHo. The showstopper here is Domi, a dessert shop dishing out exquisite French pastries with Asian-inspired flavours like strawberry jasmine mousse cake and chocolate salted caramel black sesame cakes. Come for the eats and stay for the regular art exhibitions and special events, and to peruse the retail offerings, including plant store Dandy Farmer Bonsai Shop, sustainable lifestyle store Siizu and a couple of jewellery shops.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For the latest travel advisory updates, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
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