Anyone living in New York City will probably have noticed the proliferation of food markets over the past few years. And while they may seem fairly new, similar concepts have flourished for a long, long time in Southeast Asia. It seems ripe for the current climate though, as foodies move toward more casual (and let’s face it, more Instagrammable) dining options and restaurateurs move toward mitigating risk and reducing overhead.
We have long been fans. We were early patrons of Chelsea Market, the landmark space, with its humble beginnings in the skeleton of the old Nabisco factory. The space where Oreos were invented (whatttt!) has become a thriving market and office space with convenient proximity to the High Line. We also fondly recall our trips, years and years ago, to the food stalls at the Brooklyn Flea. Back then they were simply the incubators for small, up-and-coming vendors and the gesticulations of mad scientists in their open-air kitchen laboratories. But buyer beware: the rapid growth in this segment has resulted in markets which are jumping on the bandwagon with subpar offerings at exorbitant prices. If you’re going to pay a food market a visit, these are the ones we recommend.
Best Outdoor Market: Smorgasburg
When more and more people started visiting the Brooklyn Flea for the food instead of the wares, Smorgasburg was born. Over six years later, it is now the largest weekly open-air food market in America. The pioneer is still the best in the game, attracting top-notch vendors and hardcore foodies. At present, the Saturday market takes place on the waterfront in Williamsburg, while the Sunday market takes place in Prospect Park. Both are picturesque locations that serve as worthy backdrops for those Spaghetti Donuts or Ramen Burgers. (Yes, both of those things really do exist.)
But we recently paid a visit to Smorgasburg’s new SoHo location, dubbed Smorg Square, and were disappointed by the experience. While there are still many delicious food options, the location happens to sit in the crosshairs of Holland Tunnel traffic. Loud honking from cars and trucks will, unfortunately, serve as your lunch or dinner soundtrack. Perhaps it’s irrelevant, New Yorkers are pretty accustomed to ambient noise. We just thought it might be worth noting.
About that weekend… Featuring the Holy Cannoli flavor from Bona Bona at Smorg Square aka Smorgasburg SoHo P.S. This is the before pic. The after pic is in our weekend roundup, still on Instagram Stories! (Cautionary tale of what happens when you want to get the light juuuuust right ) #smorgsquare #smorgasburgsoho #icecreamlover #dessertporn #dessertgram #eeeeeats #nyceats #nycfood #nycdining #eatingnewyork #eatingnyc #nycfoodie #weekendeats #mondaymorning #mondayvibes #mondaymood
Unlike most food bloggers, we recommend passing on the obvious Instagram bait. John’s Juice, we’re looking at you with your $9 “juice without the cups”! Go to your local bodega and buy the whole fruit for a third of the price, we beg of you. Instead, go for the establishments that actually honor the spirit of the food festival’s humble beginnings. Try the churros from Dulcinea, which were borne of a tasting mission in Madrid. Or try the small-batch ice cream from Bona Bona, by chef Nick di Bona of Madison Kitchen in Westchester County.
For some additional (hilarious!) reviews, check out this post from our fellow New York City blogger, Lauren of Girl in Gotham City.
Best Indoor Market: DeKalb Market Hall
DeKalb Market Hall is located in the basement of Brooklyn’s City Point Mall, the largest mixed-use center in Downtown Brooklyn. Besides its prime location, DeKalb Market Hall boasts a fantastic array of more than 40 vendors. What sets it apart from its competition is its partnership with the crème de la crème of the New York City dining scene from across the boroughs. Vendors include such noteworthy establishments as Katz’s Deli (its first ever satellite location) and BK Jani, a popular Pakistani restaurant you would normally have to trek out to Bushwick for. You’ll also find the famous Arepa Lady, which started as a food cart in Elmhurst, Queens. And, of course, if you’re looking for dessert — as we always are — well then you are in luck, because they offer such all-stars as Ample Hills and Steve’s Key Lime.
It’s also no coincidence that our favorite indoor food hall features walls that were decorated by local artists like Olalekan Jeyifous (AKA Kid Cadaver) and Matt Reuter. It’s an all around feast for both the eyes and the tummy.
Pro Tip: If you want to kill some time between lunch and dinner (or between your first and second desserts!), remember that City Point also houses Alamo Drafthouse, a boutique movie theater we featured here.
445 Albee Square W
On a side note…
If you’re following us on social media, you might already know that we’re headed to Austin, Texas soon! We’ll be sharing our adventures on Instagram Stories and Twitter throughout the weekend, so please join us! We’re still taking recommendations so if there’s something we shouldn’t miss, we’d love to hear about it. Thanks as always for following along!