The burning question. In the midst of all that madness, what exactly should I look for in this Zombie infested former Nabisco factory. I added a couple of names for 2017 without feeling the need to change anything else. This is just mostly a fresh reminder since I’m constantly being asked by people. What should I target in Chelsea Market…
Posts Tagged With: Chelsea Market
I decided to do Chelsea Market tours through the winter. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, but finally decided to do it after the third person asked me. The last one I toured with yesterday. I also noticed many people on Trip Advisor are having trouble navigating through the market, and come out very disappointed, which is a
money opportunity shame. While many New Yorkers avoid the market for its craziness (and by craziness I mean you tourist), the foodies out there, and those in the know go out of their way to eat and shop there. With all our current food halls, courts and markets all over NYC, Chelsea Market is still the most unique one offering the best eats. And unlike say, Little Italy, its touristy for good reason. But as with any such market pretty much, there’s value in going with a local
You can very well explore on your own, and I’ve written plenty here to help you out with the many options. There’s no secret to what I like, but there are a few places not so easy to find (I call one the market speakeasy). I’ve been to Chelsea Market well over 100 times, to the point that I even know what other tour groups are eating. These are big groups that can only do it at 10 am or 2 pm. With smaller groups I can afford a more proper, relaxed walk, and also customize the eats if needed
Who is the tour for: Foodies, locals, market lovers, models, anyone really. I’ve taken both locals and visitors to the market before. If we have time we can also walk on the High Line and I’ll take you to my favorite dessert in Chelsea nearby (outside the market, in addition to dessert in CM). Worse case scenario you’ll have a chance to meet a fun, energetic, good looking local, and I’ll do my very best to find that individual!
$50 per person for now. If interested, email me. Oh and remind me to tell you the story behind the picture below.
Time to update the old what to eat at Chelsea Market post. But instead of simply updating it, I will just make a fresh one. As fresh as the Hummus at Dizengoff, the latest sensation to hit the market. You can say what you want about the market. Its increasingly busy, packed with tourists, and theres a decent chance a large polish gentleman will step on your feet. But largely due to that foot traffic, the market also attracts vendors like no other market or food court in NYC. For every Amy’s Bread, and Num Pang that you can find all over town, there are 10 vendors and purveyors that are unique to the market. And besides, the traffic doesnt hamper my movement much. I come, I eat, I go, juts like anywhere else. Since I’ve been to the market around 20 times this year alone, I will only post about the food that I like and target these days, not something I’ve eaten 3 years ago and now dont even look at that direction anymore (I’m looking at you Rana!)
Chelsea Lately – 2017: This year I’ve been spending some time at Los Mariscos, Los Tacos #1 sister restaurant hidden off the Los Tacos space. While staring at Los Tacos, look left, and walk through the hallway. It will look like you are doing something illegal and you are about to enter a secret Food Network club where everybody is playing poker and Guy Fieri is the dealer. No! Keep walking until you get to Los Mariscos. Its like a Mexican seafood shack that feels like a Chelsea Market speakeasy. Their baja style fish tacos are perhaps the ones to beat in NYC at the moment (had today at a competitor – Feh!). And guess what else they have… bathrooms! With no lines! You welcome!
For dessert lately I’m flirting with Sarabeth’s mini Cherry pie, but only if there’s no line. I’m a little allergic to lines. This is it. The rest of the lineup is still awesome….
Lobster Roll at Cull and Pistol – No Surprise here. I’m attracted to this place like a magnet, like Germans to David Hasseloff. Even when I go elsewhere, I often stop by to check out the ever-changing menu, and on occasion see a game and plan changer (Lobster Ramen!). This is my go-to Seafood spot in NYC, and an obvious inclusion in the Z-List. Although I’m picking the lobster roll for the purpose of this post, the entire menu is essentially the freshest of the fresh from the Lobster Place next door. While most tourists head to LP for the miniature $18 roll, this is much more like it, albeit at $27. I go for the Connecticut style, hefty amount of mouthwatering, buttery, warm claw meat with a touch of mayo stuffed inside a toasty bun with a good amount of great fries
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup at Very Fresh Noodles – One of the newest kids on the block. As of this writing, they are still under soft opening with a minimal menu, though this kind of menu works for me. Its not the size, but what you do with it, and how you pull the noodle that matters! Two giant pulled Biang noodles go into the bowl along with slow cooked braised beef shanks, scallion, cilantro, and chili oil. The aromatic beef broth packs plenty of heat and leaves a nice tingle for some time. The noodles are a bit uneven, with some parts chewier than others, but a delicious dish all around. Sitting is very limited in that hidden corner of the market
Adobada at Los Tacos #1. The Shawarma of the south. First rule of fight club: you see a line you stand on it, as long as its not the bathroom line. Second rule of fight club: stand on this line, enjoy the view of the pork goodness dancing on a spit and become its Tango partner a short time after. The lines move quick, but your mouth should move slowly to the tune of this juicy marinated pork awesomeness. Dont yield to temptation and add more ingredients because they are there and they are free. You dont want the flavors of some of our best tacos to get lost. (Note: I was clearly very hungry when I wrote this)
Double Cheeseburger at Creamline. Simple American classics suggests, just like with Los Tacos, quite busy with families, school groups, and other Ziggys who simply admire the craftsmanship. Grass Fed dry-aged burgers from the butchers next food (Dickson’s), with perfectly matched soft sesame bun makes this one of the best “fast food” type burgers I’ve had in a while. Order, take a number, and look for a seat which I usually find. Who said there’s no seating in CM? I did! But thats not the case anymore, especially with the selections in this post. Turkey Burger here is good as well
Chirashi Bowl at Lobster Place – Did I mention that Lobster Place has some of the freshest fish in town (see Cull & Pistol)? As much as I love lobster its usually the last thing on my mind when I’m inside (and not next door). I get a seat at the Sushi counter and order the same thing every single time, the wonderful Chirashi bowl. Then I order this at other Sushi places and weep a little. Last time I got dry rice shaped like a heart. I will just let the picture do the talking here
Hot Dog at Dickson’s Farmstand. Hot Dog killed the (previously recommended) Pastrami star. Instead of paying for a dirty street hot dog, how about spending a few more bucks for a clean naturally raised beef dog. Or the Mortadella dog that gives me just about the same satisfaction except that its much more twitter friendly. Mortadella hot dog just looks and sounds much cooler than “Hey look at me, I’m eating a hot dog, that looks like any other hot dog.
Hummus at Dizengoff. The hottest, most anticipated addition to the market since they added another women’s bathroom. This is a Hummuseria by Michael Solomonov and the rest of the team behind Philly famed Zahav. Solomonov’s acclaimed hummus has been featured in cookbooks, magazines, children books (“Goodnight Hummus”), and now found its way in section C of Chelsea Market (the hottest section to hit the market since section B!). Hummus, as fresh as it can get, can be topped with slow cooked lamb neck, egg, tehini, among other seasonal goodies. You also get a small salad, some pickles, and a wonderfully chewy thick pita bread straight out of the pizza-like oven. Once you are half way into the hummus, start experimenting with the intense homemade red S’hug sitting on the counter. And yeah, try sitting at the counter watching the men and women at work
Halvah at Seed + Mill. Raise your hand if you never had Halvah. Halva is one of those funny trendy items hitting the streets of NYC as of late. Halvah ice cream, halvah donuts, halvah ramen. Ok maybe not. But its funny to me since I’ve been eating Halvah for breakfast with either bagel or fresh baguette for as long as I remember. And whenever I’m around Seed+Mill it never ceases to amaze me how many people are trying Halvah for the first time, and go “fascinating”, “what a concept”, “who knew”. Well, we all knew pretty much, but even if you know your Halvah you can try it for free here for yourself.
Gelato at L’Arte del Gelato – This is not your standard, typical NYC gelato or ice cream. Great raw material like Hazelnuts from the Langhe hills of Piedmont. This is just about as good as it gets. And if you always wandered about the difference between ice cream and gelato, this is a good place to see the difference, starting with the way it looks
Chocolate Chip Cookie with Caramel at Liddabit – This is simply an awesome cookie! Dont believe me? Just ask my friend Lou who is a self proclaimed cookie snob. When I brought him the cookie, this is how the conversation went
“So, how do you like it?”
“This is a good cookie!”
See? What sets it a part for me is not so much the caramel, but the liberal use of dark chocolate chunks all around.
Enjoy Chelsea Market, and remember… stay hungry my friends. (I dont even know what it means anymore honestly)
Pretty much overnight, food courts in NYC went from a concept to “What, another one? We need another food court like I need a pimple in my tuches”. Food courts, food halls, semi-annual festivals like Madison Square Eats have become part of us, like bagels, and pizza rats. It almost seems like a new one opens every week, and one can easily lose track of openings just like with new restaurants these days. At some point you just stop and ask yourself, how many more Luke Lobsters and Mighty Quinn’s does this city really needs. Some of them start to look the same, and one of them even invited me for a free tour and tasting. I get such invites on a weekly basis and its either something I’m not interested in, or in Staten Island. Ziggy will not be bought. PERIOD! Unless you invite me to one of these three.
CM is busy, touristy, perhaps the most crowded food hall out there, and I cant get enough of it. I bike there for lunch more often than some of the places by my work I can walk to. And, yeah, you guessed it, I dont go there for its history. The vendor list is incredibly impressive, and for the most part unique to Chelsea Market. A high quality butcher, An “A” List Taco joint, fresh seafood, top notch gelato, Halvah, and the soon to be best hummus in NYC, Dizengoff, which will open any day now, are just some examples. Its unlike any market in the world, so comparing it to something like Venice, Barcelona, Mahane Yehuda markets is silly. Some may even suggest its not much of a market, but a collection of high quality food purveyors, but there’s definitely enough market in it. In fact one of the things I love about CM is that some of the vendors source their stuff directly from next door. Cull & Pistol gets their seafood from sister Lobster Place, while Creamline (great turkey burger) gets their meat from Dickson’s Farmstand next door. If you are a food enthusiast (well. you are reading this blog post) you owe it to yourself to stop by. But dont do it when you tired or stuffed. Many tourists just walk the main isle, leave the other door and then ask whats the big deal about this place. Stay for a little bit, explore, and meet some of the vendors, like Rachel from Seed + Mill. Tell her Ziggy sent ya.
Yeah, nothing shocking about any of these picks. Long time readers already know that Ziggy hearts Eataly. Unlike, say Little Italy, Eataly is super touristy for good reason. And like Chelsea Market, yes, there’s a good chance that a large Polish man will step on your foot when you least expect. But do you know who especially likes Eataly, that may come as a surprise? Italians. Italians who appreciate quality, and can even find items that are not easily available back home. Whether we go for a little shopping, Nutella Bar, or have a snack at one of its restaurants, we cant get enough of it. I usually have a small mental laundry list of stuff that we “need” like Italian craft beer, Venchi chocolates, fresh pasta like the Agnolotti dal Plin, sauces, cookies, and whatever else catches my eye on each visit. Yes, the stuff is expensive, and I dont shop there on a monthly basis. But cheaper than this is, well, essentially “Stop and Shop”. Quality and imports come with a price tag. Another reason for tourists to come to Eataly is the location. Your attraction heavy guide book may not tell you that Madison Square Park and its surroundings is a must see, especially during squirrel season.
Gotham West Market
While I was waiting for my Steak Barbacao bowl at Choza the other day, I bumped into something I dont see very often at GWM… Tourists. The process of ordering anything at Choza for tourists can be as complicated as our current presidential race, so I was happy to put my Matt Murdock mask on and step in to help. GWM, simply put, is one of the best things to ever happen in Hell’s Kitchen, and one of its main advantages and what separates it from the pack is that its out of the main tourist route. Other than the Intrepid nearby I cant think of any reasons why tourists would come here. Maybe check out our incredible lineup of auto dealerships? GWM is also a very different food court. Its compact, with only 8 or so vendors, and it has more of a neighborhood feel than other food courts. Think of it as one large restaurant with 8 different menus to choose from, where your kids and husbands can run around freely. You can order something at one vendor and eat it at the counter of the next. The funky Avroko design of the place may be reason enough to stop by for some, but I personally go for, you know, the food.
When we were done with our meal at Cull & Pistol the other day, right before we stepped out, we paused for a few seconds. “Its like a scene from the walking dead out there” I told the hostess who nodded nervously, almost as if she was saying, “I hope you got the proper protection”. I did not. I never do. We felt safe inside, but out there they were in large numbers, walking gingerly and awkwardly in one direction, some even salivating. And before the hostess had a chance to call the manager, we had no choice but leave. And there we were again walking among them, slowly, in the same direction, toward the same goal… ice cream. Five minutes into the walk, we only made it to Lobster Place next door. We reminisced about the meal we had five minutes ago.
Cull & Pistol is more than just an oasis in this lobster, taco, zombie, Chelsea Market frenzy. And its not exactly a new-comer to EWZ. I already blogged about it here, and here. I can’t even update the latter ‘here’, because I visit C&P or sister Lobster Place on just about every Chelsea Market visit these days, including three visits in the last 4 weeks. Why? its the fresh seafood stupid (Its just an American expression, I’m not calling any of my readers stupid, again)
What I like at Cull and Pistol doesn’t really matter much, because chances are, unless its lobster or fish and chips, it wont be on the menu by the time you visit. The menu is not only seasonal, changes based on sister Lobster Places availability, but also benefits from a chef with a menu OCD. One of my favorite chefs on the planet suffers from a menu OCD – a chef that will ride the hot stuff, but also likes to dare, experiment and invent.
If you have to pick just one lobster roll in NYC, this is it. To me around 90% of the lobster rolls out there carry very little value, and are as filling as a Doritos snack. A very expensive snack. C&P stuffs theirs with a lot love – sweet, juicy, claw meat kind of love. And they pair it with excellent almost shoestring fries (though a little bit less salt please). Another must for me as of late is the Spanish/Portuguese octopus. A few weeks ago it was a Portuguese beauty that came with a porky and veggy mix of some sort. One of the best octopus dishes I’ve had in NYC. Nowadays, its a heftier Spanish stallion, simply paprika’d, and served with crispy fingerling potato.
The highlight from the last meal was four Ecuadorian head-on shrimp baked with tarragon-vermouth salt. They were huge, sweet, and missing the funkiness/fishiness of similarly sized gulf shrimp. Oysters and happy hour always one of the main draws. Yesterday I grilled their succulent salmon burgers which are on the menu and can be purchased next door. Two nights before we sauteed their excellent garlic shrimp and served over pasta. Another hit on the current menu is the whole Dourade fried Thai style with mango, coconut, Thai basil, cucumber, chili, mint and fish sauce on the side. I found this more expertly done than in some Thai places where the fish is often dry and overcooked.
Great drinks is the norm, outstanding chocolate mousse for dessert. One of my NYC favorites at the moment.
Cull & Pistol
75 Ninth Ave (Chelsea Market)
Recommended Dishes: Lobster Roll, Octopus, Shrimp, Thai style Dourade, Salmon Burgers
But lets stay with the stumbler for just a minute. Have you ever stumbled while walking and decided that its the perfect opportunity to start jogging so to avoid the embarrassment of stumbling. That doesnt work very well sometimes, especially if you are wearing heels, or a suit. The frontal balding stumbler this morning, wearing a sharp black suit, holding a suitcase in one hand and a bag in the other, stumbled on the next to last step coming off the subway into street level. But he’s waaaay to proud to stumble. The folks behind him, me included watched in horror as he tries to regain his balance by stumbling and pretty much jogging his way into a full blown puddle after refusing to go down initially. I admire the baldy’s perseverance and technique but a quick fall would have been far more graceful. His entire right leg along with the $800 Salvatore Ferragamo shoes was inside a puddle on a beautiful sunny day. I dont know about you but this is why I go to work.
I also go to work to eat, and this week has proven very interesting so far. I came to Cull & Pistol looking for more Uni Tagliatelle (below) but instead I got back to back visits eating some of the best Banh Mi and Pho I’ve had in NYC. Introduced just this Friday as part of a new Fall menu.
Swordfish sandwich was simply outstanding. Hoisin glazed, moist, meaty Swordish, pickled carrots, ginger aioli in a nice warm baguette. Swordish is a tough fish, and I normally try to avoid after having one too many dry ones. But this preparation nailed it.
Lobster Pho the next day was even better. Lobster stock with vermicelli, lobster and hake chunks, mussels, with strong lemongrass action. It was served with a plate of condiments that included coriander, basil, and mint leaves. I turned possessed while eating this thing, like eating after a fast.
Cull and Pistol, is quite possibly Chelsea Markets biggest gem, somewhat hidden. Its owned by the same team that owns Lobster Place next door, and so they share some of the same fresh seafood. In addition to the fantastic squid ink Taglietelle with Uni you also have a hefty lobster roll with fries, fish and chips, and the scrumptious Long Island Clam Toast with ham from Disckson’s a few doors down.
Check it out. Just watch your step. And try not to open the main door unless you dont mind suddenly turning into a door man waiting for an entire polish tour group to walk in. Just let someone else open the door for you
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.