Chelsea Market: Food Porn Paradise or Tourist Trap?

Chelsea Market

 

What is Chelsea Market?

 

A brisk walk from the Hudson River, in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, brings you to New York City’s Chelsea Market. This unassuming brick building takes up an entire city block and is the former National Biscuit Company, which later  became known as Nabisco. (You know, the nice folks who make Oreos? GENIUS!)  The factory was founded in the nineteenth century, close to wholesale butchers who set up shop beneath the High Line train tracks (close to the Hudson, for readily available ice…the world’s FIRST automatic ice maker! MORE genius!). The butchers always had plenty of lard on hand which was perfect for making biscuits! This area has a long food history, as Algonquin Indians once traded crops and game in the very same location. In the nineties, the factory became Chelsea Market; housing an urban food court, shopping mall, business offices and television production companies. The Food Network even films its shows Iron Chef America and Emeril Live in the Chelsea Market complex. Today, thirty-five vendors lure in about six million visitors (both tourists and locals), annually, and these people are hungry!

     The vibe inside Chelsea Market may be best described as Industrial Shabby Chic.

The vibe inside Chelsea Market may be best described as Industrial Shabby Chic.

Vendor Directory

Vendor Directory

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Fairy lights twinkle against a backdrop of  brick, peeling painted black floors and rusted metal.

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Various art installations (such as this flowing drain pipe, illuminated in changing neon colors) unite the theme.

Is there Shopping in Chelsea Market?

 

Shopping1

     Racks and racks of trendy designer clothing, original art, handmade jewelry and hot home decor are available at the Artists and Fleas Design and Vintage Market, running through March 9, 2014. You can shop, meet new designers and independent retailers. There will also be a permanent home for the Design & Vintage Market soon! Find out more at http://www.artistsandfleas.com/. There are also several other shops (such as my favorite, Anthropologie!) selling everything from clothing and accessories to jellies and jams.

Chelsea Market Food Porn!

Now for the REALLY good stuff!

Bow-chika-bow-bow!

Bow-chika-bow-bow!

   Behold! Cupcakes: A higher power’s way of saying, “That thing you did? Celebrate it with obscene amounts of frosting!” If you’re going to eat cupcakes…be smart…eat a Ninja Turtle cupcake. Or Mike Wazowski. Life’s too short for boring cupcakes. And eat that cupcake BEFORE dinner. Tell your mom I said it’s okay. Moms, it’s okay!

Okay, granted, the angry Birds are a little scary...

Okay, granted, the Angry Birds are a little scary…ooooh, is that Olaf from Frozen???

Patrizia Alessiorn was born in Bassano del Grappa, which her bio states is “a small Medieval town in Northern Italy.” She made the move to NYC to live out her dream of owning a bakery in, what she thought was, the greatest city in the world. Ruthy’s Bakery & Cafe has been going strong for almost two decades. All their products are dairy kosher and they bake everything, right there in the bakery, from scratch. They offer breakfast pastries, custom wedding cakes, cupcakes, French macaroons, cake pops, eclairs, cannoli cakes and Rugelach. Check them out at www.ruthys.com!

The Caffeinated Day Tripper is OBSESSED with eclairs. The very best eclairs in NYC used to be at Zaro’s Bakery. One of the most traumatic days of my travel life was asking for an eclair at their Grand Central Station location and being told they weren’t carrying them anymore.

*plays Taps*

The Caffeinated Hubby and I used to sit on the floor in the Grand Terminal, fists gloriously full of eclair, silently mocking rushing strangers for racing right by the bakery to make their trains.

Alas, all good things must pass. And so, it was with great trepidation that, we tried these:

Caramel AND Chocolate???

Caramel AND Chocolate???

3 words: Cream, NOT custard. The easiest way to break my heart. These were very tasty but my search continues. If you know of a great eclair in NYC that IS NOT cream filled, let a sister know in the comments, would you?

     The Lobster Place 

If this were any fresher it would pinch your bum.

If this seafood was any fresher it would pinch your bum.

Here’s what I’ll say: Sure, you could get the lobster. I live in New England, so it’s always available to me. The sushi looks amazing. The shellfish, too. Pick some up to bring home with you for dinner. This is seriously fresh fish, after all. Go nuts! But, whatever you do, get in their take-out line and…

ORDER THE OYSTER PO’ BOY (with Old Bay french fries…NOT  CHIPS)!!!

It is ridiculous! The fish and chips are also wonderful but…say it with me…

ORDER THE OYSTER PO’ BOY (with Old Bay french fries)!!!

Oyster Po' Boy/ Fish and Chips (Old Bay Fries)

Oyster Po’ Boy/ Fish and Chips (Old Bay Fries)

The oysters are amazingly sweet and lightly breaded & fried, (almost as good as the beloved crispy duck I get in Chinatown) the slaw is crisp, and the sauce is TO DIE! The fish was flaky with the perfect crunch and these are my favorite french fries, of all time. I know, strong words for fries but they are cut smaller and thinner than regular fries, which makes each fry toasty on the outside and snowy in the middle, and they are lovingly showered in a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning. Perfection. Check this place out at The Lobster Place.com!

Caviar!

Look at all that Caviar and Roe!

ChelseaMarketSignRed

Chelsea Market Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7am to 10pm, Sunday: 8am to 9pm
Address: 75 9th Avenue (Between 15th and 16 Streets), New York, NY 10011

Have you been? Planning to go? What do you think?

Is Chelsea Market a food porn paradise or a tourist trap? What is YOUR favorite food option in the market? Have advice or questions about Chelsea Market?

Be sure to leave a comment below! I love hearing from you!

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About the Author: Erin

37 Comments

  1. Reply lyn barden

    Missed the markets on my trip, must add on for next time. A lot like our Victoria Markets here in Melbourne. However I have never seen such gorgeous and tantalizing cup cakes!!

    • Reply Erin

      I was there again just this past Sunday. The fish market and bakery got my money again…lol! Yes, definitely stop in next time. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Lyn. :)

    • Reply Erin

      Let me know what you think of it when you do! Also, try Mario Batali’s Eataly. It’s an indoor market featuring every Italian culinary-related item under the sun. There are also a few restaurants & wine bars inside.

  2. Reply Jempi

    Wow, seems like a cool place to visit when you’re in NY…and hungry! Nina (my partner in crime) already commented you that we saw a documentary about this place last month. Both our reactions where the same…”food-porn! We must visit this place on our next trip to NY”. Thx for the article.

  3. Reply Amber

    Ummm… why haven’t I been here? Has anyone invented teleportation yet? Because seriously, I need to go here.

    Also, I second you on the cream vs. custard thing. Substitution not acceptable. (Disclaimer: that wouldn’t keep me from eating it!)

    • Reply Erin

      I was just complaining to my sister that The Jetson’s cartoon set very unreal expectations for my generation. Where the hell are our teleporters? And that automatic closet that dresses you each morning?? And my hover car??? We were LIED to! I feel like I should eat a custard filled eclair to ease my pain…

  4. Reply Sara Chukoian @Green Global Travel

    I smiled as soon as I stumbled across this post. I personally love traveling and I am an avid foodie. I have yet to try caviar so I am eager to make it to this destination to try some. I will definitely be adding the Chelsea Market to a bucket list destination. Great post and magnificent pictures. Thank you for sharing!

    -Sara

    • Reply Erin

      And I’m smiling, reading your comment! So glad this struck a chord with you. Wish I had picked up some caviar while I was there but I was so focused on the amazing Po’ Boy…lol! Incidentally, if you want a great caviar experience, Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster has these incredible deviled eggs (trust me here) that are made with chicken fat and a sprinkle of peppery caviar at his Sunday Gospel Brunch. They are TO DIE. And you get other delicious buffet items and a gospel music show. Which brought tears to my eyes. Definitely check it out if you can!

  5. Reply Bob R

    Just because it’s popularity has gone through the roof doesn’t make it a tourist trap. So long as the quality doesn’t suffer, the more the merrier. Happy to see tourists come here as opposed a Burger King in Times Square. :)

    • Reply Erin

      Times Square is SO expensive and actually gives me claustrophobia now. The first time there is amazing, of course, especially at night, but I’d definitely rather have a Po’ Boy in relative peace than pay what Times Square charges for crap food. So right, Bob!

  6. Reply Nina

    Just yesterday I saw a documentary about this market (it was aired in Belgium, a show about the ‘other’ things to visit in NY) and now I’m reading your post about it. A sign that I need to check it out? :)
    Great post, feeling hungry now. :)

  7. Reply Marysia (@MyTravelAffairs)

    Been once or twice, it was nice but nth I would brag to my friends about it. But I might be spoiled as in Europe we have really amazing ones, especially in Spain where I lived some time ago!

    • Reply Erin

      I hear you. As I said in another comment, we’re pretty spoiled to be near a great one in Boston. Thanks for stopping in to give your opinion. :)

  8. Reply Adelina | PackMeTo

    I wandered through Chelsea Market and had no idea what to eat. There were too many tantalizing options. That po boy sounds delicious and those fries sound like my kinda fries. I’ll have to try it next time :D

  9. Reply travelwithmarilyn

    Oh, those cupcakes and eclairs look fantastic!! Great article and your photos — yummy!

  10. Reply tagorman

    Looks amazing! Though did you conclude yourself if it’s a tourist trap or a place worthwhile to see nowadays?

    (sorry for the numerous comments – had trouble with the right account, haha)

  11. Reply tagfotos

    Looks amazing! Though did you conclude yourself if it’s a tourist trap or a place worthwhile to see nowadays?

    • Reply Erin

      I think it is well worth visiting if you know where to get good food. I still think Quincy Market in Boston, Massachusetts is way better. There’s an amazing vibe to the place and the food choices are insane. Mobs of people but that adds to the charm. Ever been?

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© Erin Jorgensen and The Caffeinated Day Tripper, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Erin Jorgensen and The Caffeinated Day Tripper with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.