What To Eat (And Skip) At Market 57 guide image


What To Eat (And Skip) At Market 57

Market 57 is one of NYC’s best food halls. Here’s what you should eat when you go there.

Food halls in New York City tend to fall into one of two categories: places for tourists, or places for exhausted office workers to hunker down in a windowless apocalypse bunker with a compostable bowl of $22 slop. These urban descendents of shopping mall food courts are rarely places we’d go unless we had no other choice, but Market 57 is an exception.

This is a bright, airy waterfront destination where you can eat a lobster roll while overlooking a man-made floating park and think, yes, spending 40% of my take-home pay on rent to live in this city is worth it. When you inevitably find yourself in this part of town  and you want to avoid the hoards at Chelsea Market, go to Market 57 instead. When you get there, have someone in your group snag a table (they’re scattered throughout the space) while you hit the following counter-service spots to place a few orders.


The Galley by Lobster Place

The Galley is the one of the first vendors you’ll see when you walk into the market, and it’s also very close to the doors that lead out onto the pier. This is ideal, because you’re going to want to take your seafood-stuffed roll outside to eat by the water when the weather is nice. The lobster roll here is simple and classic, but the scallop roll is even better: imagine a crudo laced with chili crisp, packed inside a hot, toasted, buttery split-top bun. We also love the smoked salmon and caviar roll with potato chips in it. 

Every time we go to Market 57, we end up getting a masala dosa from Ammi. They’re made to order, so they’re always perfectly crispy, and they come with two chutneys: one spicy, one coconut. The dosa is big enough to share, but unless you’re getting a ton of stuff, you might want to keep it to yourself. It’s served with a cup of rich, spicy sambar, and we recommend a tamarind slushie on the side.

Plot twist: this food hall Zaab Zaab is just as good as the Thai restaurant’s two brick-and-mortar locations. The menu here is condensed with just three sections: som tum, larb, and curry. We love the duck larb with a side of sticky rice, as spicy as they’ll make it, but any of their som tum options make a perfect alternative to the sad desk salad. Come here when you need to get out of a lunch rut. Or pick up dinner on your way home and make everyone in your household love you even more than they already do. 

Malai makes great ice cream with a super thick texture, and it’s a very good thing that they have a location here, because it means you can get a triple-scoop cone and take it on a walk around nearby Little Island. There is no wrong answer when it comes to the Indian-inspired flavors, but try the rose and cinnamon-roasted almond at least once. It pairs perfectly with our other favorite: mango and cream.

Ras Plant Based makes some of the city’s best vegan Ethiopian food at their restaurant in Crown Heights. At Market 57, you can get versions of classic sampler platters in bowl format, with injera chips as part of the base. Ras also makes breakfast and brunch dishes, and they have rotating specials, like Ethiopian-inspired cauliflower tacos. Come here when you’re not in the mood to eat a bunch of sandwiches.

When you are in the mood to eat a bunch of sandwiches, Due Madri makes great Italian ones, served on pizza bianca, a type of flatbread sold by the square in Rome. We’ve yet to try one we don’t love, but our favorites are the Nonna, because we’re always looking for a great vegetable sandwich, and the Nina, because any sandwich with both mortadella and stracciatella is going to be good. Grab a sandwich to go, or sit at the bar and get a spritz and a charcuterie platter after work—or on your lunch break. We’re not here to judge.

Bessou’s snacky Japanese food is a little hit or miss, but the hot honey karaage is an unquestionable hit. In fact, it’s one of the best bites in the entire market. Giant chunks of boneless chicken are tossed in a tangy, spicy sauce and topped with mayo, togarashi, and big slices of pickled jalapeño. The flavors are intense, in a good way. Just don’t let yourself be sidetracked by things like beignets or crispy rice bites, which are forgettable.

Maybe it’s the waterfront setting, but we love getting oysters at Mother Shuckers' raw seafood bar. They’re shucked to order, and you can choose from three different toppings: candy apple, sushi, or classic. We’ve tried them all, and the sushi is our favorite. If you want to mix things up, you can also add a bunch of other raw bar items to your order, like cherrystone and littleneck clams, shrimp, and crab. 

This is a useful spot to grab cookies or cupcakes when you forgot about your coworker/partner/friend’s kid’s birthday—and they have regular, vegan, and gluten free options. The baked goods are, well, good, but the ice cream sandwiches are the main reason to come to The Good Batch. Thanks to some kind of sorcery, they come out of the freezer perfectly tempered every time. Try not to get your heart set on a specific flavor, because they tend to sell out by mid-afternoon, even on weekdays.

Lolo’s is a popular spot for seafood in Harlem. When you visit their downtown location at Market 57, stick to signature dishes: Basically, if it’s seafood and it’s fried, you’re going to like it. The fish and chips are extremely crispy and impossibly flaky, and the fried shrimp basket is a good alternative. Lolo also makes great jerk wings, their coconut shrimp spring rolls are like fair food in the best possible way, and the johnny cakes are something anyone with a sweet tooth should try at least once.

This Chinatown classic used to have a location in Essex Market, and their food hall outpost at Market 57 has more or less the same menu: a selection of Nom Wah’s classic dim sum, bao, and noodle bowls. During lunch on a weekday, you’ll see dozens of people scattered around the food hall hunkered over bowls of char siu-topped egg noodles. If we worked in the neighborhood, we’d count ourselves among them. You can’t really go wrong with anything here, but you also shouldn’t go out of your way for it. There are more exciting things to eat.

A good coffee shop is an essential component of any successful food hall, and we’re glad that Bird & Branch anchors this one. If you’re looking for a straightforward single-origin drip or a well-crafted latte, they have those, but the specialty drinks are the main draw. The options change often, but you can expect to find highly photogenic layered drinks, like hummingbird matcha floating on top of raspberry lavender soda, or the unlikely but delicious Sunbird, with pineapple juice, coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, and espresso.

Mijo is a Mexican spot run by the team behind the wildly popular Fan Fan Doughnuts in Brooklyn, but there are no doughnuts on the menu. There are, however, really good churros, served with either warm chocolate or caramel. Also, paletas and chamoyadas. Dessert is our favorite thing to get here, but the tacos and flautas are both just serviceable. We just wouldn’t choose them over other savory dishes in the market.

Local Roots makes seasonally-driven food inspired by the owner’s Chinese heritage, and its vibrant, purple rice fan tuan is a great choice for a grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. If you have a little more time to wait around, we recommend the cheesy scallion pancake wrap, which is exactly what it sounds like—a ton of melted cheese stuffed inside a crisp scallion pancake. They also have boba tea and a bunch of baked goods.

You might find yourself at Market 57 with a table full of food and friends and think, a beer would make this so much better. Fortunately, Harlem Hops has a space here, and just as at their Harlem location, the focus is on small-batch beers brewed by people of color. You can’t take your beer across the pier to the park, but you can look at the park through the floor-to-ceiling windows while you enjoy your brew.

If you want your visit to this food hall to be filled with surprise and adventure, visit the Good to Go stall. A rotating menu features dishes by a bunch of up-and-coming chefs selected for the Beard House Fellows program—it's a good bet you'll try food made by someone whose restaurant will probably be impossible to get into in a year or so.

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photo credit: Kate Previte

What To Eat (And Skip) At Market 57 guide image