In early November 2021, it was announced that Anthony Bourdain’s endeavor to bring an authentic Singaporean-style hawker food hall to NYC, a four-year effort that fell apart in late 2017, had been rebooted with the city-state’s foodie icon and Makansutra founder KF Seetoh and may finally come to fruition sometime in 2022.
When and if this opens, it will be joining a wonderfully crowded scene of urban food halls (and food courts, although some may argue the former is simply a more local vendor-centric, evolved incarnation of the latter) in a city that—thanks to the success of the trailblazing, perpetually packed Chelsea Market, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022 and sees approximately 6 million tourists and locals annually—helped spawn a still proliferating nationwide trend.
Today, New York City and its boroughs boast dozens of food halls and food courts, from the shiny new Hudson Yards development to subway hubs to Flushing’s Chinatown shopping centers. Here are a dozen of the best spots to hunker down, get dizzy from choices, and eat fantastic food.
Opened in October 2021, one of the newest additions to Manhattan’s food hall scene is conveniently situated at a Midtown East subway hub on 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue. Its 15-plus stalls include incredible fare from some of Brooklyn’s best vendors, like fiery and flavorful Pakistani-Western fusion burgers, lamb chops, and kebabs at BK Jani; Korean-Japanese fusion ramen, bao, and bowls at Mokbar; PDA Pizza, which in a departure from its Park Slope mothership offers slices as well as pies; and Tel Aviv Mediterranean street food-inspired import Miznon—their folded cheeseburger pita is fusion at its finest and kid-friendly to boot!. Bonus: there’s sometimes live music during dinner time and plenty of tables scattered around the beautifully modern, leafy indoor space.
Address 601 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA
Canal Street Market brought the food hall concept to Manhattan’s Chinatown in 2017, featuring trend-forward culinary and retail stalls, but Mott Street Eatery represents the sort of old school, unpretentious Chinese food court you’ll find in Flushing, Queens, with an international twist or two. Opened in November 2021 in the former home of Joy Luck Palace, a beloved dim sum destination that shuttered in 2018, Mott Street Eatery still offers plenty of dim sum and Cantonese staples at its buzziest vendor, 89 Eatery. Meanwhile, decidedly un-Chinese Domo Sushi offers Tokyo-trained chef Jiro’s creative modern takes on nigiri, sashimi, and hand rolls, including a decadent wagyu, foie gras, and truffle hand roll, plus more traditional donburi and maki (and an omakase). At the same time, Kwan Burger and Pizza gets fusion-y with Peking duck topped flatbread and a lobster patty burger.
Address 98 Mott St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Another fall 2021 addition located in the sprawling 40-acre Manhattan West development, located just across from equally upmarket Hudson Yards, this long, railroad-style food hall boasts beloved California vendors (Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam’s Crispy Chicken), several NYC flagships, and celebrity chef-driven spots, including a pair of fine dining venues (Casa Dani, Katsuya). Dubbed the “world’s best butcher” by the New York Times, Tuscany’s Dario Cecchini brings delicious panini creations, meat boards, and wedge cut polenta fries to NYC at his Cicci Di Carne flagship. In contrast, Andalusia’s Dani Garcia brings inventive bowls, sandwiches, and meals—mostly incorporating organic chicken—to El Pollo Verde. And Sa’Moto serves up celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto’s contemporary, fusion-tinged takes on Pan-Asian staples like popcorn shrimp, gyoza, Southeast Asian laksa, and Hong Kong Chicken Wonton soup.
A 2015 arrival conveniently located just across the street from Grand Central Terminal, Urbanspace Vanderbilt proved such a success that it’s since spawned two additional locations. Its rotating selection of vendors—there are 13 at present—represents a sort of greatest hits of New York City, including toothsome Neapolitan-style pizzas from Roberta’s, craft java at Partners Coffee (formerly known as Toby’s Estate), Ippudo Ramen’s takeaway-geared spinoff Kuro-Obi, 100% vegan Plant Junkie, hand-sized brioche donuts from Harlem’s Dough, and lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound.
Address 45th &, Vanderbilt Ave, New York, NY 10017, USA
Continue to 5 of 12 below.
Ranking among New York’s biggest food halls at 27,000 square feet, Dekalb Market Hall also brought a literal taste of the Lower East Side’s iconic Katz’s Deli to downtown Brooklyn when it opened in 2017. Yes, you can bypass the original’s insane crowds and lines and chow down on some deservedly famous pastrami, corned beef, square knishes, and more at this outpost, while also trying a Jewish take on BBQ from the Bronx’s Pulkies. International highlights include Berlin-inspired doner sammies at Kotti Berliner Doner; Cantonese and Fujianese influenced Chinese fare at 100% Mr. Lin; Polish dumplings, borscht, and kielbasa at Pierogi Boys; Japanese teppanyaki-style street food at Teppan Territory; and Tokyo-style sweet or savory-filled rice crepes at Eight Turn Crepe. And yes, there’s plenty of sweets for dessert, plus craft beer and wine.
Address 445 Albee Square W, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Located across the street from One World Trade Center, shopping center Brookfield Place is home to a second-floor food court notable for its gorgeous views of the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty, substantial seating areas, and dependable, fast, free Wi-Fi (popular with the laptop crowd), and over a dozen upmarket fast-casual vendors. Those include mostly local brands—and a few national faves—like Asian-inspired sammies from Num Pang, pastries and cafe fare from Olive’s, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar, Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue, Black Seed Bagels, Sprinkles Cupcakes, and Umami Burger. Meanwhile, the ground level also boasts full-service restaurants, Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man Coffee, and Le District, a sort of French version of Eataly. Insider tip: avoid 1-2 p.m. on weekdays when local office workers crowd the place.
Address 230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10282, USA
Another World Trade Center area food court, the minimalist GLM relocated from its original Meatpacking District home on West 14th Street as of late 2020 to the basement level of shopping center Westfield. International in scope, its current offerings range from Peruvian dishes at Cebichelsea to Korean-style fried chicken at Chick n Buns. The breakfast items and decadent cookies at pastry chef Jessica Lee’s Two Geese Bakery are possibly its most mouth-watering options.
Address 101 Liberty St, New York, NY 10007, USA
Hell’s Kitchen saw this slick 10,000 square-foot food hall open on 11th Avenue in 2013, bringing much media and foodie buzz thanks to its first U.S. location of Tokyo import Ivan Ramen (founded by ex-pat Ivan Orkin). While Ivan has since moved on to open his dedicated flagship in the Lower East Side, Gotham West kept the buzz thanks to two other Japanese-centric concepts, Sushi on Jones and Don Wagyu, pizza and gluten haven Corner Slice, “pop culture-inspired” ice cream brand Mikey Likes It, and a proper sit-down chef’s counter Italian spot Dell’anima.
Address 600 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036, USA
Continue to 9 of 12 below.
A full-on multi-level Asian shopping center, this Flushing Chinatown mall boasts a bustling food court in its basement level with over 30 stalls representing ethnic and regional cuisines from China, including Uyghur, Sichuan, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, plus other Asian countries with a dash of fusion. Price points are incredibly reasonable, and you can scratch a bubble tea itch here to boot!
Address 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11354, USA
Situated smack dab in the Theater District, this packed second-floor food hall is a perfect stop for quick pre- or post-show grub. (Although don’t cut things too close to showtime since lines and waits for City Kitchen’s half-dozen vendors can be unpredictably long.) Choices include Mediterranean pita wraps and rice bowl entrees at Ilili Box; Azuki sushi; tacos at Gabriela’s Taqueria; Ippudo’s Kuro-Obi express ramen; Luke’s lobster, crab and shrimp rolls; Whitmans for burgers and booze; and Dough donuts. Alas, seating is limited so this may be a standing room only engagement!
Address 700 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036, USA
With a history dating back over a century, the Lower East Side’s Essex Market relocated to a gorgeously modern, larger, glass-enclosed multi-level space in 2019 that includes a tables-filled mezzanine level. While butchers, cheesemongers, gourmet groceries, and beer fill out the market, many prepared food spots are available. Highlights include takeaway Thai and Hainanese chicken at Eat Gai and sit-down eclectic Indian fare at Dhamaka. The basement level houses The Market Line, a food-hall-within-the-market with over two dozen vendors ranging from Asian (Dragon Bing, Pho Grand) to Mexican (Nixtamal) to good ol’ NYC-style pizza (Slice Joint) and sweets (Doughnut Plant).
Address 88 Essex St, New York, NY 10002, USA
Brooklyn’s trendy DUMBO neighborhood—rare is the tourist Instagram without a photo snapped at Water and Washington Street with Brooklyn Bridge in the background—saw the popular international Time Out brand open an urban food hall here in 2019. Entailing 24,000 square feet and two levels—including a fifth-floor outdoor waterfront terrace—its 20-plus vendors are local-centric and chef-driven, with the revered pancake destination Clinton St. Baking Company, Brooklyn native and celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda (creator of Shake Shack’s burger blend), chef Ivy Stark’s plant-based BKLYN WILD, legit NYC Ess-A-Bagel, Jacob’s Pickles southern comfort fare, and Central Harlem-born Sugar Hill Creamery.
Address 55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA