When Chelsea Market opened in 1997, it was a fairly tiny operation, strewn with specialty cooking stores, fruit and vegetable stalls, and a scattering of bagel spots and bakeries. These days, however, the market, which sits under the High Line, is a sprawling, multi-floor food hall that houses restaurants, vendors and shops selling dishes and ingredients from around the world.
Dickson’s Farmstand Meats is Chelsea Market’s premier butcher shop
Dickson’s Farmstand Meats is a nose-to-tail butcher shop. The narrow space is lined with a case on one side, filled with everything from marbled merguez sausage to pig’s-face roulade and pancetta. As you make your selections, don’t hesitate to ask the knowledgeable butchers to chop your steak into strips, or query about appropriate cooking times. Luckily, the whole place smells of smoked meat, and rotisserie chickens, speared on spits, spin in the oven. Grab a sandwich, like house-made hotdogs nestled in plush buns, or hunks of blackened pastrami jammed with cheddar, apricot chutney and mustard on multi-grain bread, for lunch on your way out.
There’s no need to head to the coast when you can station yourself at Lobster Place, Chelsea Market’s bona fide home for all things seafood. The cavernous space is filled with bins brimming with lobster, oysters, clams, sea urchins and king crab legs, which can be taken to go or prepared fresh for you. Head to the in-store raw bar for platters of shucked oysters, clams, crab and shrimp, or make your way to the sushi bar for delicately sliced slivers of pink salmon and shiny hamachi.
Helmed by Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani, Miznon has locations in Tel Aviv, Paris, Vienna, Melbourne and, most recently, Chelsea Market. The mini-chain is all about pita sandwiches, with each shop tailored to the food landscape of its home city (the Paris location jams ratatouille into a soft pita, whereas in Tel Aviv, pitas often arrive bursting with falafel and lamb meatballs). In New York, plush pitas are sliced open and filled with everything from innocuous ingredients (strips of steak, fried eggs, roasted cauliflower) to the more exotic and cheeky (one is stuffed with a folded cheeseburger that is covered in tomatoes, pickles, garlic aioli and sour cream). Although the space teems with diners clutching pita sandwiches, you’d be remiss not to order the world-famous cauliflower: a roasted baby cauliflower – blackened and crispy on top – sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil.
This unassuming Mexican stand in Chelsea Market has garnered fame and long lines since it first opened several years ago. Behind the counter is an assembly line of cooks, expertly pressing maize into corn tortillas and grilling strips of steak on the grill. There are tacos crowned with grilled cactus, chicken, tomatoes, onions and bright-green guacamole, and quesadillas and mulas stuffed with marinated pork and steak, slipped onto white paper plates. Top off everything with colorful and spicy salsas, and wash it all down with a fruity agua fresca.
This tiny cheese shop works directly with over 50 local farms, selling solely American cheeses, butter, yogurt and buttermilk. Stock up on wedges of nutty cheddar, soft rounds of camembert and double-crème cremont, and blue-veined roquefort, plus artisan butters, sea-salt crackers and jams. Or simply try the cheese on its best vehicle: grilled bread. The shop presses grilled cheeses as you wait, and invites its customers to add extra fillings like ham, butter and fig preserves.
This bakery is a Chelsea Market stalwart – a tiny operation hawking an array of squat brownies. The brownies come in two sizes – fondly referred to as witches and witch babies – and the soft, square sweets are infused with gooey caramel, honey and green morsels of mint, or straight chocolate. For those less obsessed with chocolate, there are blondies: chewy vanilla squares studded with white chocolate chunks, walnuts and citrus. Buy one at a time, or splurge on a tin or gift box, which can be stuffed with up to 96 witch babies.
A teeny, sleek counter operation, Seed + Mill is run by three women who ply guests with all things sesame. The case houses mounds of halva, each a different flavor; some are crowned with Nutella and hazelnuts, others with cinnamon, matcha and orange slivers. The server behind the counter will machete hunks of halva for you to take home, and you can also pick up one (or two) jars of smooth, silky tahini to drizzle on toast or whisk into salad dressing. When the weather’s warm, cool down with a cup of soft-serve ice cream, made from goat’s milk and sesame tahini, which can be sprinkled with halva crumbles.
It’s all about Italian sandwiches at Cappone’s, a Sicilian specialty counter peddling enormous sandwiches on several kinds of bread. Choose from a range of sandwiches, including the Cappone (capicola, soppressata, salami, provolone, arugula, mozzarella and hot peppers) and the Gallo (imported mortadella, provolone and eggplant caponata), which can all be hugged between ends of semolina, Tuscan or rosemary-flecked focaccia bread.
Get your chopsticks ready and head to Very Fresh Noodles
You’ll hear Very Fresh Noodles before you see it. In the kitchen, chefs pull and stretch dough, snapping the long threads against the silver counter in a resounding thwack. The taut ribbons are wrenched apart into smaller pieces and quickly cooked, then slipped into white plastic bowls, replete with fiery cumin lamb, mock duck or morsels of pork. You can slurp up beef soup, rife with swimming tender beef shanks, or opt for a dry bowl (meaning no broth). Cleaver-smashed cucumbers round out the noodle-centric menu, along with several bubble teas.