Food hall cheat sheet
Hoping to do venture to one of the new food halls to try some tasty dishes and perhaps find a holiday gift or two? These foodie havens can be great, but overwhelming.
We present the amNewYork cheat sheet to help you navigate the Plaza Food Hall by Todd English, Eataly, FoodParc.
200 Fifth Ave., 212-229-2560
Open: Daily, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Epic lines at Mario Batali’s 42,000 square foot superstore have gotten plenty of airtime on local blogs. Play it smart though, and Eataly is surprisingly easy to navigate. Our suggestion? Eat first, then shop the aisles: You won’t impulse shop (as much), your gelato won’t melt, and you won’t have to find a place to store your bags while dining.
What to Try: Of the seven self-contained “restaurants,” Le Verdure stands out from the crowd: A dedicated vegetable bar featuring seasonal plates like acorn squash with aged balsamic. We also loved the homemade tortellini we bought. So much better than the packaged stuff. Plus, it only takes about three minutes to cook.
What to Skip: Pasta and wood-fired pizzas from La Pizza and Pasta weren’t bad, but not unique enough to be worth the trek alone.
When to Go: The crowds were light on a recent Tuesday at 2 p.m.; weekends, however, are an all out scene.
Plaza Food Hall by Todd English
1 W. 59th St., 212-986-9260
Open: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.- 11 p.m.
Todd English’s food emporium is far less sprawling than Eataly. It’s more of a gilded marble pit stop along the Fifth Avenue/Central Park tourist circuit. Eight food stations include a grill for carved meat sandwiches, sushi bar, and a cheese stand. Once seated, you can order from anywhere.
What to Try: Ask if there’s space at the Ocean Grill, a centerpiece seafood bar where the daily catch is displayed and cooked to order (branzino and yellowfin were recently featured). If you’re not into seafood, is this accurate to say?a set of three small lamb gyros – like mini sliders with cucumber yogurt — are standouts.
What to Skip: Unlike Eataly, the Plaza Food Hall’s retail component is not a reason to visit: Forgo the holiday hodgepodge of cupcake mix and candy canes.
When to Go: Now, before it gets publicized in the 2011 European guidebooks. And be sure to wait until the tail end of the lunch rush, when you’ll have more attention from your station’s chef.
839 Sixth Ave., 646-600-7140
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. and Sun. 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
The most futuristic of the bunch, Jeffrey Chodorow’s FoodParc feels like a slick airport terminal, with rows of LCD touchscreens for ordering. The food stations cover lots of territory, so it’s a safe bet for a picky group. 3Bs has all things beef and bacon; Red Farm Stand skews Asian (egg rolls, Sichuan wontons); and Fornetti goes Italian (focaccia and flatbreads).
What to Try: Make sure you’re bundled up and haul your stash to the outdoor courtyard, an expansive seating area with water installations and a Flat-Screen movie projector. Anything good to buy to take home?
What to Skip: Doritos, candy, and other impulse buys offered at the cash register. You can get those anywhere.
When to Go: Avoid off hours (between 4 and 6 pm), when swirling lights and thumping trance music make the space feel like a dance-party-for-one.