When you’re traveling with a group of people, it doesn’t matter how well everyone gets along, inevitably there will come a time when everyone wants something different for dinner. It’s just going to happen.
Sometimes, there’s just plain not an option that will satisfy everyone. And if there is, it’s probably not all that affordable. Luckily for my group of friends – in which 2 out of the 4 of us get such bad cases of the hangries that even gremlins would be shocked – in New York City, that’s not the case (and no, we did not have to resort to eating nothing but bagels and cheesecake for the whole trip – although we very gladly would have).
Chelsea Market is a trendy collection of shops and restaurants, all snuggled into a building that covers one city block. As is so often the case in big cities, an old building was repurposed and updated to accommodate something new. In this case, it was the National Biscuit Company production building, which dates from the 1890s. That’s right, you have Nabisco, the makers of the Oreo, to thank for Chelsea Market.
When Nabisco moved out of the building, nothing really moved into it, and the neighborhood started on a downward spiral. This continued into the 1990s, when people decided that real estate in Manhattan was too expensive to be allowed wallow like that. So a group of architects took over the building, and refurbed it.
Today, the ground floor is a concourse of shops and restaurants of many different styles. Some are casual, stall-like vendors, while others are fancier sit-down type restaurants. But here’s where it gets really good: the variety of food available is amazing. Even in our friend group, plagued by the hangries as we were, everyone was able to pick something satisfying.
Two of us opted for an Asian fusion dish, which they said was amazing (it certainly looked and smelled great). The other two of us chose sandwiches from Big Mozz, a vendor known for its homemade mozzarella – who doesn’t love fresh, homemade mozzarella? – which were amazing. For my part, I got the Brooklyn Cubano, which was pulled pork, prosciutto, some of that homemade mozzarella, pickles, and mustard, panini-ed together into a sandwich that looked like a regular cuban. It was a truly odd combination of New York and Caribbean that worked so very well together and completely obliterated any hangriness (yes, I was one of the hangry gremlins in the group – in fact, I was probably the gremlin-in-chief).
With our rather successful – if I do say so myself – visit to Chelsea Market in mind, here are some of my hints and tips for planning your own visit:
Tips for Visiting Chelsea Market
- It’s going to be busy. Like I said, this is a trendy place, and there are several famous restaurants run by famous chefs in Chelsea Market. Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame has a restaurant there, and Emeril Lagasse filmed Emeril Live! at Chelsea Market. Naturally, this kind of stuff attracts lots of people. So, make sure you give yourself plenty of time and take all of your patience with you.
- Don’t worry about eating the same thing. There are so many options that it would be shameful to make everyone eat at the same vendor. Split up, go to different stalls, and swipe bites of food from each other’s plates.
- Have a rendezvous point. Like I said, it’s a busy place, and it covers an entire city block. To ensure a proper bite-swiping dining experience, make sure you can find your friends after they make their food picks!
- Make a picnic of it. Chairs are a prime commodity in Chelsea Market, so it might be a good idea to take your food to go. The High Line – an abandoned elevated train track turned city park – runs right along the side of Chelsea Market, and there are plenty of good places to set yourselves a little picnic. Good friends, good food, great views – what’s not to love?
Visiting Chelsea Market:
Getting there: The address for Chelsea Market is 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011. As with most places in Manhattan, the best way to get there is either by cab or by subway. Take the A, C, or E lines to 14th Street, and then walk one block west (along either 14th, 15th, or 16th Streets) until you reach 9th Ave.
Opening Hours: Chelsea Market is open Monday through Saturday 7AM to 2AM, and Sunday 8AM to 10PM.
Admission: There is no admission fee to enter Chelsea Market, but you will have to pay for merchandise and food!Website: You can visit the official Chelsea Market website here for a complete listing of shops and restaurants.