Ever since god invented the CitiBike, I’ve been spending more time chowing in ultra touristy Chelsea Market. A pleasant 15 minute ride there, and a strenuous 25 minute ride back on a
gassy full stomach. Navigating through the tourists at the market during lunch time should be an Olympic event. The Chelsea Slalom. Opening the door without letting an entire large polish group in and losing your family as a result somehow requires an online course. With that said, unlike most touristy spots in NYC (e.g. Little Italy, Times Square, Restaurant Row) there’s good food to be had here.
Chelsea Market is a little misunderstood. Since this is by far New York’s most famous “Market”, many avid tourists come here expecting a market similar to the Boqueria in Barcelona or Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem. Chelsea Market is nothing like it. Its indoors, not really ingredient heavy, but more a of a collection of unique restaurants and food purveyors. And just like Eataly, Chelsea Market requires some exploring in order to get it, and avoid disappointment.
Adobada Tacos at Los Tacos #1 – The more I eat those little porky things the more I like them. Tacos on the small side when you compare to what you get at a NYC bodega, but they are well marinated and deadly. I often see tourists and locals fill the tacos with salsa and all the other free goodies available on the counter, ever so slowly killing the flavors. Let the meat do the talking guys.
Pastrami Sandwich at Dickson’s – These guys, who look mostly like Boston Bruins enforcers, dont mess around with their meats. Top quality stuff is sourced directly from a few hand picked local farms, enabling Dickson’s to produce tasty sausages, hot dogs (great dogs here) and this pastrami sandwich with Apricot Chutney. This is not your average pastrami. Bright, peppery, well marbled, fatty in all the right places. Like slow dancing with your mother in law.
Cappelletti al Prosciutto at Giovanni Rana – Fresh pasta galore at this Verona import. After trying an array of pastas here (including a surprisingly flavorless Carbonara) I would stick to what they do best; Ravioli/Tortellini, and the rest of the ravioli familia. The “little hat” shaped Cappelletti is packed with flavorful, salty, porky goodness
Chirashi Bowl at Lobster Place – Tourists flock to LP for the lobster, not realizing the tremendous sushi strength here. One of the best ways to sample the fresh seafood at LP is via the Chirashi, a rice bowl topped with chef selected fresh raw goodness. Other than the somewhat soggy octopus this thing simply rocked. As long as you dont mind splurging the full $24 for the full bowl if sitting at the counter
Peppercorn Catfish at Num Pang. Love me some good fish sandwich. Something you cant easily find in NYC. This is a fine combination of flaky catfish with mild pleasant heat, fresh veggies, and crispy baguette-like bread adding to a mighty fine Vietnamese Banh Mi resemblance
Uni Tagliatelle at Cull and Pistol. Squid ink pasta to me is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you going to get. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. This one works big time. The richness, and sweetness of the uni sauce puts the Tagliatelle into another dimension. And while the cherry tomatoes, and squid are just there to look pretty, they don’t hurt. Even my oldest (13) who swore against squid ink pastas when she tried it in Venice, enjoyed this one.
Lobster. When I first decided to do a blog post about the Chelsea Market, I said to myself. “Ziggy, be unique. Give them something more than what those Asian tourists are coming for”. But who am I kidding. Nothing says NYC more to me than this only in NYC thing. The Maine Lobster Roll! You can get it at the Lobster Place, or its sister Cull and Pistol with the most addictive, perfectly cut and seasoned fries. Or, do it Asian tourist style – grab a table and share an entire one.
Mighty Mushroom Roll at Beyond Sushi. Dont say I’m not thinking of you Mr and Mrs health nut. For something that is less than zero calories (you lose while you chew and lose some more while you fight a polish tourist for a sit at the steps) this is pretty darn good. And its not just the truffle essence that puts this thing on the list, its also the Enoki, Shiitake, Tofu, Micro Arugula, Shiitake Teriyake sauce… err who am i kidding, its mainly the truffle essence. The same essence I blame for not taking a picture.
Chocolate Chip Cookie with Caramel at Liddabit – This is simply an awesome cookie! Dont believe me? I once brought the cookie to my cookie obsessed/snob co-worker Lou…
“So, how do you like it?”
“This is a good cookie!”
Nocciola delle Langhe at L’Arte del Gelato – Pure awesomeness. If there’s better gelato in the city, I didn’t have it yet. If you always wandered about the difference between ice cream and gelato, this is a good place to see the difference.