For years, I’ve been making an annual pilgrimage to New York City. In that time, I can say that I’ve seen it all. I retraced my family roots on Ellis Island, toured the Statue of Liberty, felt like the mayor of New York at the Top of the Rock, and visited the best museums the city has to offer. Yet, I still find myself returning year after year. Why? The food! You just can’t beat New York City’s culinary scene.
At the center of the city’s foodie movement is Chelsea Market. The market is a sprawling complex located just a few blocks from the Food Network’s headquarters (yes, celebrity chefs can often be spotted) in the old Nabisco factory. It’s a foodie’s paradise of food shops, restaurants, and food carts, and is definitely worth a full afternoon on your New York City itinerary.
The key to visiting Chelsea Market is to learn to pace yourself and know what to fill your stomach with because, let’s face it, you’re going to be doing a lot of eating. This guide will help you eat your way through the best of Chelsea Market.
Grab a walking snack
Chelsea Market is quite huge, spreading an entire city block and then some with all its nooks, crannies, and hallways. It’s best to acclimate yourself before you really start exploring. What better way to do that than with a walking snack? Plenty of shops and stands sell to-go food that you can munch on while you take a pass through Chelsea Market window-shopping where you might want to eat or shop later.
For those who wish to start their day exploring Chelsea Market with a sweet indulgence, Bar Suzette and the Doughnuttery are great options. Bar Suzette serves some of the best crepes you’ll find in New York City or Paris. Fan favorites include their chocolate and coconut crepe and their honey and almonds crepe. The Doughnuttery offers some of the most creative doughnuts you’ll experience like House of Cardamom (cardamom and orange zest), PBCP (peanut butter, cayenne, and pretzel), and cheeky peach (peach, raspberry, and rose petals).
If you’re seeking something savory, and maybe a little spicy, Los Tacos No. 1 is the way to go. Three friends from Tijuana and California opened the Chelsea Market taco stand because they couldn’t find any authentic Mexican food in the city. Now, they serve their simple, traditional tacos on hand-pressed tortillas topped with fresh made salsas and guacamole.
Sit down for a fast casual bite
Now that you whet your appetite and have a better feel for the lay of the land, it’s time to move in for the kill and fill your stomach with a little more than a snack. As you saw from your pass through, the possibilities are endless. Perhaps you spotted a place where you want to sit down for your second course. If you can’t decide, here are a few suggestions.
Ramen is all the rage in New York City, and Mokbar is a great way to experience the traditional Japanese noodle dish with a Korean twist. While ramen is considered on-the-go street food in Japan and much of Mokbar’s business is to go, the real experience is to eat in the dining room where you can see chefs prepare made-to-order ramen. The anju menu (small Korean plates) is also fun to explore.
One of my favorite stops in Chelsea Market is Lobster Place. It’s one of the largest seafood shops I’ve experienced anywhere in the world. I’m always remiss that I can’t shop there since I always stay in a hotel when I’m in New York City. That doesn’t mean I still can’t enjoy the fresh seafood. Lobster Place has a raw bar to belly up to for a bite of fresh oysters or other crudo indulgences. Look for their daily dollar oysters specials. Cull & Pistol, which is attached to Lobster Place, offers a more intimate setting, and offers the same great raw bar selections alongside fresh lobster rolls.
Take a break from eating
You’re probably a little full by now and need a break from eating. It’s a good thing that Chelsea Market is more than just food. There are a few shops to browse like Anthropologie, Artists & Fleas, and Posman Books. If you want to stock up for food and drink supplies for your hotel room, check out Lucy’s Whey for artisanal cheeses, Amy’s Bread and Dickson’s Farmstand Meats for sandwich making supplies, Chelsea Wine Vault for wine, The Filling Station for craft beer, and Fat Which Bakery for decadent brownies.
If you need to stretch your legs a little more, venture outside of Chelsea Market to adjoining High Line Park, New York City’s newest greenway. Enjoy fresh air, as you walk along what was once a train track but is now a city park. Or, do as most foodie’s do when they’re not eating and drink! The Tippler is a great place for handcrafted cocktails and Corkbuzz is a unique option for a glass (or bottle) of wine.
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The main course
Are you ready to dive in for the main course? Chelsea Market has you covered. One of my favorites is Giovanni Rana. I’m a sucker for any Italian restaurant specializing in house made pasta. Giovanni Rana’s showcases their handmade noodles with the option of a pasta-tasting menu where you can sample up to five pastas in one meal. The reginette with espresso braised short rib and porcini will have you licking the plate clean.
The Green Table is another favorite place to sit back and relax after an afternoon of exploring Chelsea Market. The Green Table is one of New York City’s first farm-to-table restaurants. Customers get to sample the best in local seasonal foods alongside an elegantly curated beer and wine menu. The fish of the daily is always fun to try as is grass-fed beef selections alongside seasonal vegetables.
Chelsea Market is located at 75 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets and is easy to reach by subway. Take the A, C, E, or L train to 13th Street. Exit from the subway and turn left on Hudson street, following as it mergers into 9th Avenue for two blocks. The front entrance will be on your left. Or you can just follow the trail of crumbs left by others making their food pilgrimage.
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