Words and Photos by Bri Garrett
I’ve lived in New York my whole life. But I’m embarrassed to admit that there’s a whole list of activities I’ve never done – and I’m talking places that top all of the NYC must-do lists. Luckily, I technically haven’t left New York yet, and it’s never too late to start exploring more of the one-of-a kind city. After all, it’s not going anywhere and neither am I.
This summer kicked off my vow to explore more NYC icons, starting with Chelsea Market. This famous food hall is housed in a cozy area of Manhattan, where skyscrapers and large touristy crowds take a back seat to streetscapes lined with tall trees, gorgeous townhouses, and a number of eclectic art galleries. Another major gem of this neighborhood? The food. And Chelsea Market is no exception.
A food hall consisting of over 50 different vendors, Chelsea Market is sure to offer any type of meal you’re in the mood for, from Asian to seafood. We mustn't forget dessert – you can have your pick of goodies like creamy gelato or decadent chocolate truffles.
After taking a walk around the market’s large interior – taking the time to admire the arched brick pathways, wall art and even a cool waterfall – my friend and I settled on Mexican food at a place called Los Tacos No. 1. Judging by the long line extending past the vendor walls, we figured it would be a safe bet that this place would offer a quality meal. Another good indication was being able to watch the chefs prepare our food right in front of us. I watched, mouth watering, as my sizzling, juicy carne asada (grilled steak) was transferred from the stove to a fresh corn tortilla. The chef smiled at my delayed response as he asked me what toppings I wanted, aware that I was distracted by the delicious food steaming right in front of me. I decided that the taco didn’t need many additions, so I chose to add only onions, cilantro and some fresh lime (yes, I know I’m plain). I did notice, however, that my taco did look a little lonely on the plate, so I went back and ordered a second one, this time with adobada (marinated pork).
I probably fall within the 1 percent of people who find that sauces, salsas and sour cream tend to overpower tacos. I prefer mine clean, where the flavors of the meat and minimal toppings speak for themselves. And man, did these tacos speak! My favorite of the two was the carne asada, which combined hints of spiciness and sweetness, with perfectly cooked pieces of tender meat that weren’t too overwhelmingly large or chewy to bite into. It was fresh, clean, and simple food, and that’s how I love to eat.
My explorations didn’t stop there. Directly next to Los Tacos No. 1 was the coolest spice shop, called Spices and Tease. Behind a glass display sat an assorted rainbow of just about any spice you could possibly want. Each spice was labeled with its name and a brief description of what it can be used for. The vendor also offered a variety of exotic imported teas, all naturally flavored. Deciding I needed a good drink to pair with my tacos, I ordered a pomegranate iced tea. The mistake I made was asking for it sweetened – the syrup definitely overpowered the pomegranate flavor. Next time, I’ll order it sans added sweetener and just rely on the natural taste of the tea.
Chelsea Market isn’t a place that can be conquered in just one day – unfortunately, neither my wallet nor my stomach is capable of that. But rest assured I’ll be walking through those doors again very soon!