New York: 5 Fancy Food Courts (That Are Not Your Average American Food Courts)
Growing up, food court has never exactly a familiar concept to me – maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in the U.S., and since I moved here, I have spent most of my years in Manhattan where food court wasn’t such a common thing – not till fairly recent, I still think of food court as place where I get to visit only when I go to all-American shopping malls outside the city. With saucy stereotypical American Chinese food, a couple Italian chains, hotdog on the stick, and of course a pretzel stand that oozing buttery aroma that makes the baked goods hard to resist – the food choices at these food court are usually easy and family friendly, but they are also somewhat predictable and not very adventurous.
New York City is a city with not just the upscale Michelin Star hot-spots, but also unique cuisines and boutique style restaurants from around the world. Those typical food court never have a chance to break in to this city lifestyle, as New Yorkers like to walk around the city and find the hidden gems in each neighborhood, the good ol’ chain restaurants are usually not the focus. In recent years with the rise of trendy food markets like Eataly, food courts seemed to find their way into the food scene in the city. To meet the need of New Yorkers’ expectation, these food courts not only have a collection of innovative up-and-coming chefs to whip up some of the best artisanal meals, they also come with great design and ambience that takes the dinning experience to the next level. Here are some of the most popular food courts that are not your average American food courts:
Brookfield Place is a brand new luxury shopping center in lower Manhattan that’s right off the World Trade Center Memorial and Freedom Tower. Hudson Eats is the main food court that gathered an interesting selection of food counters and restaurants for their clients, from fast casual restaurants like Chop’t Salad and Unami Burger to new Concepts like Le District, a French Market where culinary needs are met by walking around, from one merchant to the other. Le District has three restaurants, a coffee shop ad a food market, all of them inspired by French Cuisine. If you get tired from shopping, stop by Hudson Eats for a quick bite with a view of the Hudson River, or explore Le District for a little French fair.
Address: 230 Vesey Street, New York NY 10080
- Todd English Food Hall at the Plaza
Who would’ve guessed that there’s an amazing food court in the basement of The Plaza Hotel? Todd English Food Hall opened in 2010 and has been sweeping NY foodies and tourists off their feet with its selection of top quality food vendors. This European-inspired specialty food hall, just as elegant and opulent as the hotel itself, features mini shops from some of the city’s best restaurants including Sushi of Gari, Luke’s Lobster and La Maison du Chocolat; and of course, there are also delicate bakeries, wine bars and coffee & tea houses garnished in between the restaurants. If you’re around Central Park and feel the need for a sit-down meal, take a seat the Plaza’s Todd English Food Hall and give yourself a treat with all the different cuisines it has to offer.
Address: The Plaza Food Hall, 1 Weest 59th Street, New York, NY 10019
Gotham West Market opened in 2013, and even though it’s a little far out at the corner of Hell’s Kitchen, it has becoming a destination food court for New York foodies. Among its nine high-quality and interesting venders including the all time favorites like Court Street Grocers, and Choza Tacos and El Colmado, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop has become the food court’s biggest draw due to its sexy ramen creations. For those who are looking for lighter options, there’s also coffee from Blue Bottle or bone broth and juices from Indie Fresh. There are two more bonuses that makes me love Gotham West also: for the late night owls, Gotham West opens late with a late-night menu, and it’s also one of the rare food courts that actually serves cocktails.
Address: 600 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10036
Just a stone throw away from Grand Central Terminal, this Midtown food hall encompasses more than 20 vendors with a mix of all-time-favorites restaurants in the city, and independent market staples. The iconic destination features the original 1929 steel columns and Park Avenue bridge structure. The focus, however, is still on the venders, with booth designs as unique as their individual food programs. Daniel Delancy’s friend chicken has been a big hit since the opening, Roberta’s Pizza from Brooklyn makes its first appearance in Manhattan is also popular, so as Mimi’s Hummus. For Vegetarian diners, there’s always No. 7 for their all-vegetarian program with excellent veggie burger and broccoli tacos. The food court is usually crowded from all the midtown commuters, but the seating area in the middle does make it easy for sampling and eating.
Address: 230 Park Ave (Entrance at 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue), New York NY 10169
Opened in 2014 right in Meatpacking District off the beautiful High Line, Gansevoort Market is a gorgeous skylit food market with 24 vendors. Transformed from an ancient warehouse that it once was bare bricks and a distressed wood build-out, the market is more handsome and comfortable than most food courts. The food choice is just as good looking as the space: Tacombi Taco where you buy from a VW Bus, Ed’s Lobster Bar with classy clam chowder and lobster rolls, The Bruffin that sells mask-up hybrid pastry and dozens of sandwiches from Italy-based Cappone’s.
Address: 353 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014
These food courts are not exactly like the other American food courts you find in the malls, they not only raise the bars on the food selection, but they also bring fine dinning to a more casual and approachable level, and definitely more fun! Try to explore one of them (or all of them) if you find yourself in New York City next time.