NYC - The Official Guide

Armory Show Eats

Julie Besonen

There's plenty to eat near the Armory Show, which takes place March 6–9 on the west side of Manhattan at Piers 92 and 94. The international art fair annually attracts tens of thousands of art dealers, artists and art lovers who can't subsist on eye candy alone. When it comes time to forage for food, the far western frontier of Midtown is not the culinary desert it used to be. There's elevated Asian fare at Totto Ramen and Danji and no-nonsense, juicy barbecue at Daisy May's. Then there's Print, a stylish, farm-to-table operation in the boutique hotel Ink48. Variously called Hell's Kitchen, Clinton and Midtown West, the area is increasingly studded with luxury and corporate high-rises, which accounts for improved dining options like the stimulating newcomer Gotham West Market, an industrial bazaar of eight diverse purveyors under one roof. For more smart ideas within walking distance of the Hudson shores, check out our slideshow.

Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

La Bergamote
515 W. 52nd St., 212-586-2429, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Roughly two blocks from the Armory Show and one block from where The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is taped, La Bergamote is an unrushed, contemporary bistro serving breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner and hello-gorgeous Viennoiserie. The restaurant's rich, buttery, chocolate almond croissants are the signature indulgence, but its fruit tarts, quiches, French toast and chive scrambled eggs with toasted brioche are also lovely. The teal-hued, high-ceilinged space is at the base of a newish glass tower, with small, high tables lining the picture windows and additional seating in back for larger groups. Café au lait comes in a bowl-sized vessel, and if it happens to be pleasant outside you can nurse it on the outdoor patio.

Photo: Sandra Johnson

401 W. 52nd St., 212-247-8137, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Casellula would be a gem in any neighborhood but it's particularly nice to find tucked away on a side street in Hell's Kitchen, walkable from the Armory Show and the Theatre District. The small, candlelit, brick-walled café is large in its ambitions, with a scholarly program of 30-plus cheeses and dozens of wines from around the world. By-the-glass options alone include grapes from Hungary, Portugal, Lebanon, Germany and Oregon. It's also the place to explore the world of Madeira, mead, sherry and port. Would you like to know the perfect drink to accompany maple-honey popcorn, a goose-breast reuben (available sporadically) or chocolate cake? The servers are primed for an erudite conversation.

Photo: Malcolm Brown

The Landmark Tavern
626 Eleventh Ave., 212-247-2562, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Huddling near the Hudson waterfront since 1868, the Landmark Tavern is no relic and feels almost suburban, with plenty of space between white-linen-covered tables. Gangsters and dockworkers used to haunt the premises, but these days you'll find snappily dressed executives at lunch and young sports lovers gathering to watch games on the telly. The scarred mahogany bar is a beauty, where wayfarers can pull up for a single malt or black and tan served by cordial, efficient barkeeps. Best eats include Irish bangers and mash, filling shepherd's pie and crunchy slabs of fried, flaky tilapia with browned, salty french fries (aka fish and chips). Easy listening music is piped in except for Monday nights, when live Irish sessions take place from 8 to 11pm.

Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

773 Tenth Ave., 212-713-0271, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
This restaurant's sublime food, a melding of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, is worth carving out some time in your schedule. First off, the straight-from-the-oven rosemary and sage focaccia is irresistible, as is the sambusak loaf stuffed with feta, jalapeño and onion. Of the meze, grilled baby octopus confit and shrimp sizzling in a cast-iron skillet are the must-haves. In general, seafood is a strong suit here, including wild striped bass and whole branzino to be matched with compelling wines from Greece, Israel or Spain. The soft-lit corner spot benefits from white accents—sheer white curtains knotted at the windows, white wooden tables, a white domed oven and a white-tiled (though wood-topped) bar where patrons can order creative cocktails like the Opah: fig-infused vodka blended with bourbon, lemon juice, ginger syrup and a splash of champagne. Dishes are meant to be shared family style; that goes for desserts too, especially the incredibly delicious silan—vanilla ice cream strewn with puffed rice, pistachios and shredded halvah.

Photo: Phil Kline

828 Eighth Ave., 212-399-4444, Midtown West, Manhattan
If you're taking the subway to the Armory Show, the closest stop is at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue (on the C, E). Right there is Thalia, a spacious, comfortable bar, lounge and restaurant saturated in red. Oysters lovers who come after 7pm will be especially pleased to find mollusks selling for $1 each until closing (11:30 or midnight, depending on the night). Happy hour (from 3 to 5:30pm every day save Saturday) is another bargain-priced time to come: drinks and bar snacks, like grilled chicken skewers, spring rolls and crispy calamari, are discounted. The fusion menu is an assortment of inventive sushi rolls, pizza, pasta and burgers, which means there's something for everyone, plus there are plenty of seating arrangements to accommodate large groups.


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