Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chelsea: Where New Yorkers devour Elmo and drink $1 coffee next to the Food Network.

Upon first glance, Chelsea Market looks exactly like what it used to be… a warehouse. With closer examination you start to notice the chic industrial exterior purposely wrought with iron and steel with the words “Chelsea Market” hanging off the side in block letters. To those who have been living in a bubble, it would seem like an unlikely place to house such amazing food stops, but to those in the know, it is one of the city’s greatest treasures.

Step inside and the warehouse motif is not lost. With dark walls and brick floors, one has to watch their footing in the former National Biscuit Company complex. Now, more famously home to the Food Network
, Chelsea Market is still churning out plenty of culinary delights from the many vendors inside. This becomes apparent as you are lead past many glass walls with views into the bakeries themselves.
202, a casual restaurant surrounded by upscale clothes and goods by Nicole Farhi, and Chelsea Wine Vault, a lively liquor store with weekly tastings and specials, are the first two stops on the tour. At Eleni’s across the way, be ready for a sugar rush with every flavor cupcake imaginable (Oreo Madness and Peanut Butter Cup are a must), cookies that look like works of art for any occasion ("Candidate Cookies" are the latest), a wall of candy, and even old fashioned Coke products in glass bottles that take us back to the era of the old Nabisco factory. To continue the sugar rush, head to Fat Witch Bakery next door, which produces my favorite brownies of all time (not too cakey, not too fudgey, with a perfectly rich level of chocolate). Get them after 5pm and they're only $1.50.

The next stretch is comprised of Ruthie’s, home to a hodge podge of daily breakfast and lunch specials so popular, they have two shops: one for food and one for baked goods. Don’t miss the great bagels with an assortment of cream cheeses including maple walnut and bacon, if you dare.

The Green Table and adjoining Clever Co. catering offer delicious organic food choices to the passerby in a restaurant and storefront with approximately five tables (including a communal table in the Market hall). This "sustainable eatery and wine bar" provides respite from a day of shopping the Meatpacking District in an environment unlike any other in the city.

Two chains that round out Chelsea Market are Amy’s and Sarabeth’s, both familiar names to any New Yorker worth their salt. This particular Amy's boasts a large selection of fresh breads and baked goods with French flair, like the decadent Pan Au Chocolat, to be enjoyed in the ample sitting area. And don't forget to wash it all down with their homemade lemonade available in the warmer months. Sarabeth's, on the other hand, can be easily passed by with its small entrance hidden under the dark lighting of the Market. But step inside and enjoy a wide array of jams, granola, cookies and cakes. In the mood for breakfast? Order one of the perfectly prepared omelettes until 3pm.

Bowery Kitchen Supply hidden near the back is a haven to the culinary student or aficionado, with any kitchen gadget you will ever need. The store is complete with a stellar sandwich and hot food bar, and gelato station that are no longer the Market’s best-kept secrets.

Across from "Bowery" is T Salon. A newcomer to the block, this tea store has walls and walls of tea choices, a case of delectable desserts, a healthy new twist on lunch, and a quaint yet stylish sitting area to enjoy it all.

You can't miss the open bar in the middle of Chelsea Market, home to Ninth Street Espresso, a perfect way to start or finish your visit. Brewing Stumptown coffee as quickly as the ever-growing line appears, the friendly and familiar baristas customize each coffee drink as if they were handing you a work of art. Order a cappuccino and you will never be able to drink Starbucks again. Or order a cup of coffee for only $1!

So make a date with your favorite foodie friend and hit up Chelsea Market with an empty stomach and full wallet. You won't be able to pass up the many goods, edible or otherwise, that this historic building has to offer. And stay tuned to our blog for the next installment about the Market and its many larger-scale vendors like the Lobster Place and Manhattan Fruit Exchange (and visiting sample sales!).

For a full list of shops and events visit:

Also read more about the rich history of the building:

Written by Andrea Scalici


Anonymous said...

If I hadn't already been there, I'd be out the door already! It's nice to have such a variety of shops and eats in one building, which in itself is something to see. The best part was going home with a dozen brownies at $1.50 each--can't be beat!!!!!

auntbee said...

Well-written article on Chelsea Market; it's all that and more. At first you think it's no big deal then 90 minutes later you realize you haven't explored all the possibilities. I discovered jasmine flavored dark chocolate on my 1st visit... Brava Andrea!!! Keep us informed on other edible treasures in town.

Molly said...

This article has me ready to hit Chelsea Market right now- if only I lived in the city. Next time I'm there, I plan on paying a visit to all the shops mentioned! Andrea Scalici, you're one heck of a writer and chef!