New York City is home to some of the best food on the planet. Go where the chefs go, discover their inspirations, and find a few culinary treasures to bring back to your own kitchen at the city’s finest and most abundant food markets. With lush stands of farm fresh produce, passionate and knowledgeable vendors and tastings galore, a visit to one of these NYC food markets is far from your average trip to the grocery store.
When you’re going on a trip, sometimes the best thing to do is to follow your stomach. In recent years, food tourism has become more and more popular.
Chatting up farmers while browsing colorful fruits and bright leafy greens beneath the skyscrapers pulls you away from the big city for a moment, yet still feels urban and distinctly New York. Where else could you go food shopping and only minutes after enjoy a gelato with sweeping bird’s-eye city views? Best of all, these grand NYC food markets provide an opportunity to gain a closer connection to what we eat, because nothing quite compares to buying food directly from the proud hands that harvest and make it.
200 5th Ave.
Market open daily, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. (restaurant hours vary)
Just beyond the shadow of the Flatiron Building, across the street from Madison Square Park, you will find Eataly – a full-fledged European market featuring the best products of both Italy and America with aisles upon aisles of specialty products to explore, and among them all, several restaurants, cafes and a cooking school. With a few of the most well-known Italian culinary stars in the country as partners, the Bastianich family and Mario Batali, authenticity and quality are assured.
There is handmade pasta, just-baked bread, freshly pulled mozzarella, homemade gelato and pastries, seafood and butcher counters, salumi, wine, olive oil, pizza, (deep breath!), and the list goes on. You will be overwhelmed, but in the best way. Take a break with a cured meat and cheese platter and a glass of wine at La Piazza, or ride the elevator up to the roof for house-brewed beers, homemade sausages, and an awesome view of the Empire State Building at Birrera.
75 9th Ave. (Between 15th and 16th)
Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Housed within the former Nabisco factory building in the meatpacking district, this industrial-style NYC food market and urban food court is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. But the hardest part about visiting Chelsea Market is picking a place to start. Among the many specialty shops, here you can buy kitchen supplies at Bowery Kitchens, produce at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, Meat at Dickinson’s Farmstand Meats and fish at Lobster Place Seafood.
If eating is what you’re after, there are plenty of handcrafted, eclectic and internationaloptions to settle your stomach grumblings. Iron Chef-helmed Morimoto, Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar, The Green Table farm-to-table eatery, and sweet stops like Bar Suzette creperie and Sarabeth’s bakery are just a few. Some are sit-down, but most are grab-and-go. Pick up a sandwich or a bag of mini doughnuts from the Doughnuttery and head upstairs to the High Line, the famous El-train-turned-urban park, where there are a few more treats to discover. On a hot day, the shaved-to-order lemon ice from People’s Pops is everything.
Union Square Greenmarket
North and west sides of Union Square Park
Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Union Square Market is the mother of all farmers markets. Operating year-round, hundreds of knowledgeable farmers and purveyors sell homegrown and handmade local and regionally sourced products down the stretch of Union Square Park. With family farm-grown produce, meats, dairy, fish, flowers, homemade baked goods and much more, the Greenmarket provides city-dwellers and chefs alike with the freshest selection of every season. Cooking demos, book signings, educational tours for students, and textile and compost recycling are among the events and activities offered every week.
Essex Street Market
120 Essex St.
Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
The Essex Street Market has been a fixture on the Lower East Side since 1940, when it was started by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as a new outpost for street merchants to do business. It is made up of many small owner and family-operated merchants from around the city and the world, delivering quality products with personalized service and tangible pride. Customers are welcome to ask questions, and can get to know their butcher, fishmonger, and even chocolatier, by name. It’s a market experience that’s hard to come by, ingrained with character and a true sense of community.
Here you’ll find gourmet cheese, artisanal baked goods, uncommon fruits and vegetables, and some tasty new finds like the Swedish snacks at Nordic Preserves and Boubouki’s specialty Greek pies. For a truly, how should I say, “New York” experience, but a uniquely delicious meal, stop by one of the market’s on-site eateries, Shopsin’s General Store. You may just want to Google it first.
A few more food markets in NYC that are definitely worth a visit:
Arthur Avenue: The real little Italy of New York is in the Bronx.
Smorgasburg: Take a trip to Brooklyn to explore the 75-100 local and regional purveyors at this outdoor food market. Open every weekend April-November.
Grand Central Market: You don’t need to be going anywhere in particular to stop at Grand Central Station; make the market your destination for premium coffee, chocolate, dry-aged steaks and cheeses.
The Todd English Food Hall: Located in the sophisticated Plaza Hotel, The Todd English Food Hall provides an elegant setting to indulge in fine gourmet and prepared foods. Stop by and pick up the perfect picnic fare to bring across the street to Central Park.
What are you favorite NYC food markets? Let us know in the comments.