Chelsea Market still reigns supreme, but for something a little different locals are heading north to Gotham West Market. With nine artisanal food vendors (plus a bike shop!), you can find everything from hand-shaken cocktails and hundreds of beers, to ice cream, charcuterie, and ramen. This upscale food court is just west of Times Square on 11th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets. And when you make the special trip, it’s worth it.
You enter on concrete floors and immediately look up to see the old-fashioned signs, with individual plastic lettering and the retro neon. You are greeted by a signpost pointing you toward each of the vendors inside. The space is a manageable 10,000 square feet, but you love that the sign makes it that much easier to find the cuisine calling your name.
The tasty grub that you crave might be chicken tacos with lemongrass or a cider-braised pulled pork sandwich from Genuine Roadside, bison borscht from Indie Fresh, tapas from El Colmado, or salted crack caramel ice cream from Ample Hills. Lucky for you, Gotham West has lured restaurants and chefs who are known, but haven’t yet become oversaturated in the restaurant world. You recognize the names of vendors with a track record of good food and success running eateries, but there’s not a chain restaurants to be seen.
Immediately your friends split up to grab different cuisines, and you agree to meet at the indoor communal picnic tables scattered throughout the space. If the weather is nice, opt for El Colmado’s outdoor bar—its garage door window even opens up for easy access. If you’re craving different options, make sure you know when each Gotham West Market stand is open. Thirsty for a New Orleans iced coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee? Get there before six when the shop closes. Have a hankering for ice cream? Make sure it’s at least lunchtime. The popular Brooklyn-based creamery Ample Hills sells Mexican Hot Chocolate, Sweet as Honey, and Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace starting at noon.
While you’re at it, set your mind to exploring other industrial neighborhoods that are rising to cultural and food meccas. The ‘Hood on the High Line and Meat Market Tour, for instance, highlights the Meatpacking District’s blossoming fashion, food, and art scene.