The Best Restaurants In Chelsea guide image


The Best Restaurants In Chelsea

Whether you're looking for cheesy khachapuri or a steady supply of tapas, here's where to get food in Chelsea.

Chelsea stretches from the Meatpacking District to Herald Square, and it’s objectively better than either of those neighborhoods. In part, this is because it doesn’t have as many tourists or bachelorette parties—but we also like the restaurants over here. Chelsea has great tacos, ramen, and Palestinian food, and there's even a high-end pasta-tasting option for when you want to be fed a series of carbs. Use this guide to find all those things and more.


Hav & Mar

Hav & Mar is a seafood restaurant in Chelsea from Marcus Samuelsson. The name reflects Samuelsson's Ethiopian and Swedish roots ("hav" means ocean in Swedish, while "mar" means honey in Amharic), and the menu pulls from both countries with a range of other influences. For a handy tutorial on what to expect, start your meal with the “Swediopian,” a a plate of berbere-cured salmon topped with sour buckthorn and a tangy mustard seed caviar. Bring a group, and enjoy an impressive meal in the industrial dining room with minimalist wood paneling and colorful patchwork mermaids on the walls.

You've probably heard of Los Tacos No. 1. There are currently five locations around the city, but the original is in Chelsea Market, and it tends to stay busy—because this place serves some of the best tacos in the city. There are a few options to choose from (including a vegetarian one), and we tend to gravitate toward the adobada. No matter what you get, it'll come on a fresh, springy, housemade tortilla. There's no seating at this counter-service stand, but you can always hunt around for a table in the market.

This Mexican seafood spot is from people behind Los Tacos No. 1., and it's just as good. Their crispy fish taco easily ranks in the city's top five, and the cold, tangy aguachiles are exactly what you need on a hot summer day. Unlike Los Tacos, Los Mariscos isn't actually inside of Chelsea Market (it's sort of tucked to the side), and it has a bar and some tables where you can hang out.

The first time you eat at Maison Kintaro, you’ll think something along the lines of: “How did I not know about this place?” With its bright, plant-filled dining room and '80s Japanese pop soundtrack, this low-key Chelsea restaurant is excessively charming, and it’s one of your best options for an impressive lunch or casual weeknight meal. Start with the onsen egg topped with crab and uni, then get the katsu sandwich or bowl of rice layered with thick Hokkaido scallops. Whatever you eat, you’ll make a mental note to come back soon.

If the thought of sitting through another predictable mid-range sushi omakase makes you feel bored, a visit to The Oval at La Devozione might be in order. This Chelsea Market pasta bar serves a pasta tasting menu that’s prepared inches away from where you sit. The experience—which costs between $125-$195, depending on which tasting menu you choose—is just as much entertainment as it is an exercise in consuming carbohydrates. If you don’t want to go all-in on a tasting, you can order à la carte in the more casual “A Tavola” section, or grab an order of spaghetti to go.

You could have a great meal consisting solely of Shukette’s breads, but the entrees here are worth prioritizing, especially if you come with a few other people. The next time you're planning a group dinner, book a table at this spot from the people behind Shuka, and order the “Fish In A Cage” and joojeh chicken for the table. The narrow dining room is always packed with people going to town on various Levantine dishes, so be sure to make a reservation a few weeks in advance.

At Dil-e Punjab Deli, a tiny Indian counter-service spot in Chelsea, your options are presented on a steam table with six metal trays. For about $10, you can get three items scooped into a box, or you can go for a smaller order for around $6. All of the food here is vegetarian and mostly vegan, and, while the dishes rotate daily, you can expect things like mildly sweet aloo gobi and rich, moss green sarson ka saag that pairs perfectly with rice and roti. Take your food to go, or eat at the little counter under the shelves stacked with cans of beans and bags of lentils.

Chama Mama has some of the best Georgian food in Manhattan, and it’s somewhere you should keep in mind for any group dinner that calls for an excessive amount of melted cheese. One whole side of the menu is dedicated to the cheese-filled Georgian breads known as khachapuri, and you should get at least one. Add an order of khinkali, and enjoy your baseball-sized dumplings in the spacious dining room or on the patio out back.

Skirt Steak’s concept is pretty simple: Make people wait in line, and then reward them with steak, peppercorn béarnaise, and unlimited fries. This place has had its moment on TikTok, so, unsurprisingly, the line to get in can get pretty long. (You might have to wait an hour on Sixth Avenue.) But if you’re at least a little bit curious about an unabashedly-gimmicky restaurant with a $39 prix-fixe deal, you’ll love it here. The food is not only edible, it’s pretty freakin’ good, and the room looks like a big barn where you could throw a nice wedding.

If you’re in Chelsea and find yourself in need of dim sum, Hey Yuet is a great option. There aren’t any carts here, but the casual dining room, which is decorated with antique clocks and other vintage trinkets, is a nice place to sit with a small group and enjoy some quality Cantonese food. Try the deep-fried har gow, fluffy pork buns, and crispy walnut shrimp with just the right amount of mayo (i.e., a lot). The soup dumplings are also pretty respectable, and you can order them every day until 5pm, when the menu switches over from dim sum to dinner.

At Qanoon, you’ll eat beautifully plated mounds of makloubeh and mahshi in a cozy townhouse with a rotating playlist of Middle Eastern artists. This is one of the few Palestinian restaurants in Manhattan, and it should be your go-to spot on the island for Palestinian home cooking with generous amounts of olive oil. We especially like the musakhan, also known as sumac chicken, which sits on top of a pita and transforms it into an unforgettable piece of bread soaked in the chicken’s juices.

Life is a popularity contest, and this place wins. Cookshop is a neighborhood staple that’s good for a lot of situations: dinner with parents, lunch with your boss, brunch with friends, etc. Service is friendly, the space is bright and lined with plants, and there’s a patio for those two weeks in May and September when being outside isn’t the worst. When you can't decide where to go in the neighborhood, just come here and eat a little gem salad, a plate of roast chicken, or a pizza topped with some kind of seasonal vegetable.

Motel Morris is a great-looking restaurant with dark blue walls and velvet banquettes, and their menu is exactly what you'd expect to find at a New American-inspired place that worked with an interior designer. They serve stuff like roasted chicken, grilled asparagus, and salmon with charred broccolini, and you can pretty much always get a reservation. Stop by whenever you need a nice last-minute spot that isn't too stuffy. The cocktails are great, and the bathroom has a fun pink color scheme.

Chelsea Market has better lunch options than most food halls, and Miznon is one of the best spots here. It’s a small chain that originated in Tel Aviv and now has locations in cities like Paris and Vienna, and they specialize in pitas filled with steak, lamb, and ratatouille. You can also get other things like a whole roasted head of cauliflower, which comes out slightly charred and covered in olive oil. This spot is counter-service, but there are a few tables and bar seats where you can hang out and eat.

There used to be a lot of tapas places in Chelsea, but Tia Pol is one of the few good options remaining. This place is long, dark, and casual, and it's perfect for a date night when you want to pick at some fried chickpeas and gambas al ajillo while you attempt to make small talk. On weekdays from 3-6pm, there's a Happy Hour with discounted wine, cocktails, and snacks.

At Jun-Men, you can get some traditional ramen, or you can eat a dish that amounts to an uni carbonara. It’s a brothless bowl of noodles with sea urchin, pancetta, parmesan, and truffle oil—and it’s for people who would put uni in their cereal if the world would let them. We’re partial to the pork-bone ramen, and we wouldn’t not eat their fried chicken or BBQ pork buns. For a quick, casual meal in Chelsea, this is an excellent option.

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photo credit: Pratya Photographer

The Best Restaurants In Chelsea guide image