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Incredible Food Halls In New York City

by Lawrence Ferber

Thanks to a boom in urban food halls across the U.S. you can now enjoy a variety of tempting cuisines in one place.

(Photo by Minerva Studio)

Above all, these urban food halls offer a diverse range of choices for divergent cravings, and the opportunity to sample as many flavors as possible all in one place.

The term “food court” used to call to mind suburban malls with chains like Orange Julius and Panda Express, and dismal decor and ambiance. Yet over the past decade, the concept of multiple food stalls under one roof has been fused with the centuries-old public market archetype. In some cases, that roof is a modified shipping container, converted warehouse, or a dedicated new build. Thanks to a boom in urban food halls across the U.S. you can now enjoy a variety of tempting cuisines in one place. These include (to name but a few) Boston’s High Street Place, featuring several concept-driven stalls from openly queer Top Chef favorite and four-time James Beard Award finalist Tiffani Faison; Atlanta’s Krog Street Market; Raleigh, North Carolina’s Morgan St. Food Hall; Denver’s Stanley Marketplace; Orlando’s East End Market; and Washington D.C.’s Western Food Market, featuring a lesbian-owned, delicious Guatemalan shukos stall, Nim Ali.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022, Manhattan’s Chelsea Market helped lead the way in this boom, and has become an iconic, perpetually bustling NYC tourist attraction in itself. Some of the city’s food halls are concept-driven, like the eagerly awaited, high profile Urban Hawker, featuring up to a dozen stalls direct from Southeast Asia. Slated for a summer 2022 opening on West 50th Street, (check its Instagram account @urbanhawker for updates).

Above all, these urban food halls offer a diverse range of choices for divergent cravings, and the opportunity to sample as many flavors as possible all in one place. Featured here are ten of our favorite places located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

MANHATTAN
Chelsea Market
Occupying the former site of a 19th Century Nabisco factory, where, reportedly, the Oreo cookie was born, Chelsea Market helped transform the once seedy Meatpacking District into one of NYC’s most buzzy, upmarket, Sex and the City-fied trendy zones during the late 1990s. Also an accessible anchor for the more recent Highline Park, CM is one of NYC’s most utilitarian attractions for both locals and tourists featuring 40+ places to eat and drinks, plus sit down venues, retail stores, and the visually stunning Buddakan fine dining restaurant. Enduring favorites and flagships include Num Pang Kitchen, best known for Asia-inspired “Cambodian Sandwiches”; Lobster Place seafood, where ready-to-crack crustaceans go for decent prices, plus sushi and fresh fish; Fat Witch Bakery’s creative, decadent brownies and blondies; Los Tacos No. 1, legit Mexican tacos and horchata; brunch and baked goods icon Sarabeth’s; chef Eyal Shani’s Israeli-fusion street food purveyors Minzon; and Creamline for burgers and farm fresh ice cream. This place is a must-visit, but beware of peak meal hours and weekends if you’re allergic to crowds! 75 9th Ave. Tel: (212) 652-2121. www.chelseamarket.com

Urbanspace (Photo by Urbanspace)

Urbanspace (Photo by Urbanspace)

Urbanspace Vanderbilt
Although first founded during 1972 in London, Urbanspace debuted in NYC as a series of buzzy outdoor food markets during the 1990s. Its first permanent brick-and-mortar NYC location, Urbanspace Vanderbilt, opened adjacent to Grand Central Station’s northeast corner in 2015. Vendors represent a mix of well-established local greats: Brooklyn’s toothsome Neapolitan-style Roberta’s Pizza, Partners Coffee Roasters, lobster roll specialists Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Harlem-born sweet success story Dough Donuts. Also found here are plant-based Neat Burger and Plant Junkie, and ethnic specialties Mian Kitchen (Taiwanese) and Japan’s Ippudo Ramen takeaway spinoff, Kuro-Obi. Rapidly growing ever since, Urbanspace boasts three additional NYC locations (Midtown East’s 570 Lex, Midtown West’s, West 52nd, and Times Square’s outdoor Bisbee Beer Garden. 230 Park Ave. Tel: 646-747-0810. urbanspacenyc.com/urbanspace-vanderbilt

The Hugh (Photo by The Hugh)

The Hugh (Photo by The Hugh)

Above all, these urban food halls offer a diverse range of choices for divergent cravings, and the opportunity to sample as many flavors as possible all in one place.


The Hugh
This spacious, slickly designed food hall with splashes of art and greenery opened in October 2021. While conveniently located just above the 51st Street subway hub, The Hugh spares visitors a trip across the water thanks to its satellites for Brooklyn favorites like Bushwick’s BK Jani, where chef Sibte Hassan serves up spice-driven Pakistani fusion including a signature Jani burger with chutney; Park Slope’s PDA Pizza, which, unlike its pies-only mothership, specializes in by-the-slice; and responsibly sourced seafood and raw bar purveyors Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. An outstanding selection of ethnic cuisines also fill out the 15 vendors: Teranga for “African superfood” plus craft cocktails; Thank You Come Again for Thai comfort fare; Mokbar for Korean ramen and bowls; Miznon’s Mediterranean street food (the folded cheeseburger in a pita is kid-friendly fusion awesomeness); the Jamaican-Caribbean Jumeika; healthier takes on Germany’s Turkish-inspired sammies at Kotti Berliner Döner Kebab; and California’s wildly successful Kazunori sushi hand roll bar. Meanwhile, morning people and pastry fans should grab amazing coffee, croissants, and sweets at the James Beard Award nominated Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M.. 601 Lexington Ave. thehughnyc.com

Citizens
The brainchild of hospitality guru Sam Nazarian, Citizens opened two locations in 2021: in Miami (at Miami Central at Brightline Train Station) and NYC’s glittering, upscale Manhattan West development, just across from the Hudson Yards. Its dozen or so fast casual concepts are mostly NYC flagships: Tuscany butcher Dario Cecchini’s Cicci di Carne sandwich shop (its Nonno Dario, with creamy burrata, thin sliced mortadella, arugula and pistachio pesto, is addictive); West Hollywood’s Sa’Moto by celeb chef Morimoto; and two proper sit down venues: Sushi chef Katsuya Uechi’s namesake Katsuya (the signature spicy tuna tartare crispy rice demands multiple orders!), and Andalusian Chef Dani Garcia’s Casa Dani for Mediterranean creations. Got a sweet tooth? Don’t miss Miami import Cindy Lou’s  Cookies’ punched up takes on old fashioned Americana. 398 10th Ave. www.ctzns.com/newyork

Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place
Facing One World Trade Center and The 9/11 Memorial, this spacious waterfront shopping center gets insanely busy during weekday lunch hours when workers from adjacent towering office buildings stream in for a bite at the upper level Hudson Eats food hall. Generous seating areas with stunning glass-enclosed views of the Hudson River and free, speedy Wi-Fi add to the draw. Food offerings range from both NY-based and national restaurants and cafes, including: Black Seed Bagel, Olive’s, Num Pang, and Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar, Chop’t salads, Dos Toros, and Umami Burger.  You can also enjoy full service restaurants within Brookfield, like Le District, a sort of French version of Eataly; red sauce joint Parm; and if you’re into outdoor waterfront dining, Seamore’s and Del Frisco’s Grille. Bonus for craft java and musical theater fans: Broadway’s The Music Man star Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man Coffee! 230 Vesey St. Tel: (212) 978-1673. bfplny.com

Essex Market (Photo by Essex Market)

Essex Market (Photo by Essex Market)

Essex Market
A historic Lower East Side institution dating back to 1818, this public market took a major step in evolution, and location, by moving to a stunningly designed, multi-level structure in 2019. Besides the fishmongers, butchers, and specialist grocers, it boasts an urban food hall within a market dubbed The Market Line. Prepared food vendors range from Thai chicken and rice (Eat Gai) to Moroccan (Zerza) to Mexican (Puebla) to Dominican (Dominican Cravings), while the Market is also home to Dhamaka, one of NYC’s buzziest, most unique, and delicious Indian restaurants (you’ll need advance reservations here thanks to adventurous “forgotten” dishes like goat kidney and testicles starter gurda kapoora. 88 Essex St. essexmarket.nyc

Time Out Market New York (Photo by Filip Wolak)

Time Out Market New York (Photo by Filip Wolak)

BROOKLYN
Time Out Market
The Time Out media brand branched into food halls in 2014 with its successful Lisbon Market. Five years later, Brooklyn’s trendy DUMBO district saw a 24,000 square foot U.S. sibling open with the added attraction of an outdoor fifth floor waterfront terrace boasting a performance stage and bar. Its combined 24 vendors include a mix of cult status locals and name favorites, including Brooklyn’s own celebrity butcher (and Shake Shack meat blend creator) Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors; 50+ year NYC institution Ess-A-Bagel; cookbook author/chef Ivy Stark’s contemporary Mexican Mexology; Upper West Side Nashville hot chicken and comfort food fave Jacob’s Pickles; brunch and pancake mecca Clinton St. Baking Company; and a 2022 addition, Miami-born nouveau sushi concept, Bubusan. Of course, there’s plenty of local brews and cocktails to complement the grub, and don’t forget seasonal and global ingredients-driven ice cream from Central Harlem’s 5-year-old Sugar Hill Creamery. 55 Water St. Tel: (917) 810-4855. www.timeoutmarket.com/newyork

Katz’s Deli at DeKalb Market Hall (Photo by Liz Clayman)

Katz’s Deli at DeKalb Market Hall (Photo by Liz Clayman)

DeKalb Market Hall
Celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2022, DeKalb made it possible to taste the pastrami and corned beef Meg Ryan had a loud orgasm over at the Lower East Side’s iconic Katz’s Deli, without enduring a trip to Manhattan and the legions of tourists and endless lines! Besides a Katz’s satellite location, this cinematic, labyrinthine, neon sign lit 27,000 square foot hall boasts over two dozen local vendors hawking international and delectable fusion fare: “Jewish-style BBQ” at Pulkies’ BBQ; handmade Polish dumplings at Pierogi Boys; Cantonese and Fujianese Chinese at 100%Mr.Lin;Caribbean flavors at Fat Fowl and Likkle More Jerk; fiery Pakistani fusion at BK Jani; and Colombian and Venezuelan at Arepa Lady. Need a drink? Brooklyn Wine Cellar and the 300+ beer Craft + Carry have you covered! 445 Albee Square West. Tel: (929) 359-6555. www.dekalbmarkethall.com

Industry City & Japan Village
Aptly named, Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s water front Industry City, entails 16 converted industrial buildings, in a 35-acre waterfront development that serves as creative incubator and workspace for numerous companies and creatives, plus dozens of superb retail concepts, distillery tasting rooms for Rye Whiskey specialists Fort Hamilton, wormwood-centric spirit makers Standard Wormwood, NY’s first sake brewery, Brooklyn Kura, and two (yes, two!) distinct food halls. The two-floor Japan Village (japanvillage.com) offer loads of fast casual stalls for Japanese ramen, udon, and other dishes, while Industry City’s namesake food hall serves vegan takes on comfort fare at Renegades of Sunset; coal-fired pizzas at Table 87; and Indian home cooking at Taza Mkt, while numerous other eats are scattered throughout the buildings and beautifully designed outdoor areas. Make a day of it! 220 36th St. industrycity.com

JACX & CO (Photo by Rachel Vanni)

JACX & CO (Photo by Rachel Vanni)

QUEENS
Jacx & Co
Long Island City, located just across the water from Manhattan, has blossomed with shiny new residences, office towers, and a burgeoning gay community. In 2020, this 15,000 square foot food hall opened just ten minutes’ walk from MoMA’s sister museum, MoMA PS1. Its nine vendors are split between Asian concepts: Lotus & Cleaver Cantonese BBQ, Jia Dim Sum, Temakase hand rolls and sushi, Biao Sugar premium organic ingredient-based bubble tea; and North American delights Beebe’s pizza, Chicken Takeover with Nashville fried chicken, and Tunisian-American 2017 James Beard Award winning pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira’s namesake bakery and café. Bonus: 2022 saw the opening of a new, 20-stool craft cocktail, beer and wine bar within the food hall. 28-17 Jackson Ave., Long Island City. Tel: (929) 510-7040. jacxandco.com


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