I don’t know about you, but there’s just something about summer that kicks my wanderlust into high gear! I suppose it happens like this every year—at the very moment I’ve resigned to a never ending gloomy winter, the frost finally starts to melt, and the idea of trading in my warm puffy coat for a pair of short-shorts and a big floppy hat sounds increasingly more appealing. Then, just like that, I find myself planning a whole slew of vacations, staycations, and long weekend getaways with the same exuberance that I had for couch time and Netflix binges during the winter. Summer is the best season to explore new places, visit old friends, and make new ones...and of course, eat good food!
In the event that your wanderlust lands you in New York City this summer, the Eat Guide has you covered. In this new monthly series we’ll explore some of the best food and beverage venues in my favorite neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn, with an eye toward budget-friendly options and maxing out variety within a short traveling radius.
Let’s get this party started on the beautiful west side of Manhattan with—The Chelsea Market!
If you find yourself bumbling around Chelsea in need of a nosh and a cold one this summer—say, just after a kayaking session at the Chelsea piers or a leisurely stroll on the verdant and art-studded Highline linear park—don’t miss the Chelsea Market. This indoor market, which is located in the old Nabisco factory between Ninth and Tenth Avenue, truly has something for everyone. There are some sit-down dining options, including Steven Starr’s Buddakan, the well-known Morimoto, and the always-lovely farm-to-table restaurant, The Green Table. However, in my opinion, the real gems are the food stands.
Mok Bar: This delectable little spot puts a Korean spin on traditional ramen and boasts an adventurous list of small plates that will fulfill all of your umami needs. Try their take on disco fries, which are served up piping hot in a cast iron skillet, doused in gravy, and topped with kimchi and nori. But be warned--these won’t last two whole minutes in the presence of any fry-lover, and you will be sad when they’re gone...that is, until your ramen arrives. Grab a seat at the bar, order a bottle of sake, and prepare to have your tastebuds taken for a ride.
Los Tacos No. 1: Behind the unassuming, old-timey façade of this taco stand lives a small, yet sufficient, kitchen that operates like a well-oiled machine, turning out hundreds of tacos by the hour and satisfying every customer to cross its path. Though I have rarely seen this place without a line, it moves so quickly that it’s merely a testament to the deliciousness that lies ahead. Meat eaters, grab a taco adobada or three. Vegetarians, try the nopal (grilled cactus) taco, and then everyone head over to the self-serve pico de gallo (so fresh!) to load up your plate. Add a side of chips and guacamole if you’re feeling it, or just add an extra taco or quesadilla because guacamole comes as a standard fixin’ on both!
Corkbuzz Wine Bar: Allow yourself to be drawn in by the easy atmosphere of this wine bar for a drink or two before you head to your dinner reservation (you’re on vacation after all!), but don’t blame me if you end up staying for the Champagne Campaign, which starts at 10 pm and features half-priced bottles of champagne. Although this is primarily a wine bar, as the name implies, the short and sweet beer list features some truly unique brews (try the Urbock!), and has something for everyone. If you’re in need of a nosh, try the charcuterie and cheese options a la carte, and don’t hesitate to ask for pairing recommendations!
Num Pang: This Cambodian sandwich shop serves up the stuff that dreams are made of and is one of my favorite lunch spots in the entire city, hands down! You can never ever go wrong with the ginger barbeque brisket or the pulled duroc pork. For a lighter option, try the spicy-sweet perfection of the peppercorn catfish or the roasted cauliflower, beloved by meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. All sandwiches are served banh mi-style with pickled carrots, fresh cucumber, cilantro, and a healthy swipe of the oh-so-addictive chili mayo. [Psst—this sandwich shop has multiple locations in the city. Don’t miss it!]
The Tippler: Located in the basement level of the Chelsea Market, this cocktail spot has the vibe of an intimate and well-decorated speakeasy--dark and cool with old-fashioned trinkets adorning the exposed brick walls. Its menu features house cocktails that change seasonally, but the bartenders are always happy to make whatever you like. At $12 a drink, this is definitely one of the most affordable cocktail lounges in Manhattan. The Tippler also has a well-rounded list of drafts that is always a hit, even with the pickiest of my microbrew-loving friends.
Photo Credits: Meghan Davidson