New York City’s mushrooming food hall concept—bringing independent proprietors, and eclectic choices, under one roof—makes for a handy way to eat like a local. At the Pennsy, right by Penn Station, options include Pat LaFrieda’s famous steak sandwich and Cinnamon Snail’s savory vegan burger deluxe. UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, near Grand Central Terminal, supplies one-stop shopping for Roberta’s irresistible garlic knots, Delaney’s fried chicken sandwiches and Mile End’s Montreal-style Jewish comfort food, among other fine venues. There’s more of a European feel to the Plaza Food Hall and Todd English Food Hall on the concourse level of the Plaza Hotel, with its French patisseries and chocolatiers and Italian food specialists, as well as Asian and NYC-based purveyors. Out in Brooklyn there’s Berg’n, hawking craft beer and Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque. In the Bronx is Arthur Avenue Retail Market, a lively bazaar of pizza, pastry, Italian cheese and sausage. Another Italian emporium, Eataly, is such a hit in the Flatiron District that there’s a brand-new downtown follow-up at 4 World Trade Center. If you’re hungry for more, we’ve got 10 other marketplaces to taste the world without traveling too far.
The Bowery Market
The alfresco, boutique-size Bowery Market is a cluster of specialty food kiosks where an auto body shop once stood. Variously trimmed in corrugated metal and thatched roofs, the stalls offer a few stools, some of them provided with blankets for chilly nights. Alidoro constructs delicious, Italian sandwiches made with fresh ingredients; Dosa Royale does South Indian crepes; and you can step up to Oaxaca Comida Calle’s window for great tacos and quesadillas. Then there’s Sushi on Jones, featuring a 30-minute, 12-piece omakase (chef’s choice) menu for $58, tip included; there are just six seats and reservations are highly recommended (boxes of high quality sushi are also available for takeout).
Brookfield Place is off the beaten path unless you’re looking for sustenance near One World Trade Center or the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Then it’s an opportune spot to get sushi from Blue Ribbon and Num Pang’s Cambodian-style sandwiches, among other food stations in Hudson Eats. Sit along the windowed side of the cafeteria for views of the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty. Also on site are Le District, a marketplace that’s the French version of Eataly, and Amada, crafting Spanish tapas via Food Network star Jose Garces. He and his team also adeptly prepare roasted suckling pig and seafood paella, to be matched with earthy Spanish wines.
Canal Street Market
Chinatown’s changing landscape is embodied by this food hall, sharing half the space with a collection of NYC-based artistic retailers. The most popular culinary vendor (as seen by the longest lines) is Boba Guys, a command post for bubble milk tea; strawberry matcha latte is the way to go. At Davey’s Ice Cream, the roasted pistachio flavor is outstanding. In a dim sum mood? Steamed pork shu mai dumplings at Nom Wah Kuai hit the bull’s-eye. A few communal tables with stools are in back of the retail side; there is also some counter seating in the market portion.
A stimulating mix of food stands, retailers, bakeries, a butcher, a fishmonger and purveyors of wine, coffee, tea, chocolate and cheese deluge this block-long, brick-lined marketplace near the High Line. Even though it was established back in 1997, Chelsea Market always offers something new to try. Dizengoff, a Philadelphia import modeled on an Israeli hummus stall, has out of this world, tahini-heavy hummus and hearth-baked pita. Los Tacos No. 1 really is the champ for quick, sensational Mexican food. Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, a full-service restaurant, is hailed for its freshly made pasta tangled around espresso braised short rib and porcini mushrooms.
Times Square has a sharp food hall on the second floor of the Row NYC hotel, a quick stop for lunch or before a show. Local businesses prevail, like Luke’s for lobster rolls, Dough for doughnuts and Whitmans for burgers with molten centers of pimento cheese. Kuro-Obi is an offshoot of ramen specialist Ippudo; in addition to their deeply flavored soups are sweet, spicy and tender pork buns. Solo diners and dates can find seats along counters that face floor-to-ceiling windows; larger parties can be accommodated at tables in a separate area that flows into the hotel’s bar and lobby.
DeKalb Market Hall
Forty of NYC’s finest food purveyors are showcased at the bustling DeKalb Market Hall, which means multiple visits are almost mandatory. Must-haves: Jiangbing Company’s Shanghai-inspired crepe stuffed with 13-spice pork, egg, scallions, cilantro, chili sauce and crunchy crackers; Bunsmith’s spicy Korean fried chicken bun; Arepa Lady’s corn and cheese filled arepa de chocolo and Katz’s famous pastrami sandwich. There are also local craft beers and healthy juices. Seating ranges from bar stools to high tables throughout the industrial space.
Essex Street Market
This Lower East Side market, started in 1940, is still a happening place for produce bargains as well as prepared food from stalls like Arancini Bros., whose Sicilian-style fried rice balls come with savory and sweet fillings that change daily. Puebla Mexican Food is beloved for Irma Marin’s homespun tacos, burritos and tortas, and the quirky, voluminous menu at Shopsin’s General Store never gets old. Other compelling draws include Saxelby Cheesemongers, Ni Japanese Delicacies and fresh bagels from Davidovich. The market is soon expected to move across the street to Essex Crossing, a development that will blend housing, office space, retail and entertainment.
Food Gallery 32
For a cheap, filling, fast-casual meal in Koreatown, slip into Food Gallery 32. Stations pump out sushi, crisp spring rolls, Korean bibimbap, seafood pancakes, vegetable dumplings and icy bubble teas. It’s easy to eat for under $10 at any of the vendors. Taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries stuffed with red bean paste or custard) are a playful, tasty treat. Or head upstairs where a branch of Spot Dessert Bar offers artistic, Asian-style confections. Seating is cafeteria-style, and even when it’s crowded, spaces tend to open up quickly since it attracts a young, on-the-go clientele.
Gansevoort Market, a delightful collection of street food stalls, is an all-day hangout with an industrial-chic vibe and charmingly mismatched tables and chairs. There’s Dana’s Bakery with gorgeous macarons, an outpost of Big Gay Ice Cream and all sort of Peruvian specialties at Mission Ceviche. Then there’s the popular Burger, Inc., which goes beyond burgers with dynamite macaroni and cheese chili poppers. The space is rarely crowded and blissfully quiet enough for laptop work or long conversations.
Gotham Market at the Ashland
Flip Bird’s fried chicken is a good reason to head to this Brooklyn spin-off of Hell’s Kitchen’s popular Gotham West Market. Another tempting spot, Apizza Regionale, turns out brick-oven pies, while Mason Jar has good barbecue. Adjoining the food court is Yann de Rochefort’s Boqueria, a Spanish tapas spot that takes reservations. There’s ample seating throughout the space for groups and solo diners, and it’s conveniently located for visitors to the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music. The site also includes a pop-up space with a rotating selection of Brooklyn-based chefs.
Great Northern Food Hall
Copenhagen’s lionized Noma reinvented Nordic cuisine, and one of its partners, Claus Meyer, founded a sparkling food hall in Grand Central Terminal. Among the gastronomic pleasures are Danish-style hot dogs (get the Great Dane with ketchup, remoulade, mustard and onions) and mind-blowing, not-too-sweet baked goods at Meyers Bageri. Other stops are good for breakfast or lunch: choose from nourishing porridges and granola, open-faced sandwiches and lightly roasted coffee—the last of those from Brownsville Roasters. The Michelin-starred Agern is also part of the constellation, a wood-grained, fine-dining restaurant with tasting menus prepared by Icelandic chef Gunnar Gíslason.
Industry City Food Hall
This snaking, mixed-use space in Sunset Park feels modeled on Chelsea Market. A refreshing mix of global eats, a satellite classroom for Brooklyn Kitchen’s radical cooking school and a glass-walled facility that bakes up One Girl Cookies’ goodies are among the culinary attractions. Several of the vendors are only open Monday to Friday, but the loaded, juicy Turkish flatbreads at Kotti Berliner Döner Kebab are offered seven days a week. Likewise, for Ends Meat, a whole-animal salumeria specializing in local, pasture-raised pork, beef and chicken as well as awesome, crunchy sandwiches.
Located underneath Columbus Circle, TurnStyle is literally on the other side of a subway turnstile, its shops lining a concourse that roughly 90,000 people pass through each day. Zai Lai, a Taiwanese concept, is new to the mix, offering morning dishes like scallion pancakes and sesame flatbread with scrambled egg; at lunchtime, there are rice bowls and stir-fried noodles. Bolivian Llama Party is also exceptional, featuring savory, hand-braided, Andean pastries filled with beef and chiles, diced free-range chicken or smoked oyster mushrooms, toasted quinoa and squash. Doughnuttery is there for a sugar rush and Dylan’s Candy Bar for treats to take home to the kids.