Malls, with their bleak food courts, chain stores, and seemingly limitless parking lots, have long defined suburban culture in the United States. After all, if Americans love anything, it’s commercial efficiency. Slowly, the food-and-shopping center has crept into urban spaces as well, repackaged into a more fashionable and compact concept to please the picky urbanite set. Over the last few years, a number of “markets,” where locals and tourists can shop, eat, and drink, have sprung up around New York City. The last year, in particular, has brought a crop of stylish spots that have garnered buzz and floods of visitors.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite new and established places for your browsing-and-snacking pleasure—just don’t expect to find a parking lot nearby.
Gotham West Market
Given two stars by The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, Gotham West Market is managing to hold its own despite being relegated to the distant reaches of Hell’s Kitchen. Why? It’s a place where you can—in the span of an hour and not necessarily in this order—buy a cup of Blue Bottle pour-over coffee, purchase a bicycle from Velo, enjoy a cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen, choose a beer from one of the approximately 150 available at Cannibal, snack on tapas at Seamus Mullen’s El Colmado, and revel in a bowl of ramen from Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop. The place is basically an amusement park for grown-ups.
Café El Presidente
Described by some as the Mexican Eataly, Café el Presidente is, in reality, quite different from the Italian megamarket. For one, it’s compact enough for guests to, with some squinting, see the open-air kitchen in the back upon entering from the front. The items sold here are carefully chosen and arranged on shelves around the main floor, which is divided into two sections that share mostly the same menu: a sit-down restaurant in the back and a first-come, first-served area for mingling in the front. Tortillas and chips are made in-house and are stellar companions to a bowl of guacamole and a glass of Spiked Sandia, a combination of watermelon, agua fresca, and tequila.
Space Ninety 8
When the parent company that owns Urban Outfitters built a concept shop in Williamsburg, members of the local peanut gallery had mixed reactions: some thought it inevitable and exciting, while others considered it worse than the rains of Castamere. Whichever camp you fell into, we won’t fault you if you decide to explore Space Ninety 8, where the main draw is a New York version of The Gorbals, an LA-based restaurant from Ilan Hall, the winner of the second season of Top Chef.
While you’re at it, go ahead and browse through the rotating pop-up shops in The Market Space; repair a broken chain or deflated tire at the self-service Bikestock; or purchase a vintage piece from Urban Renewal. We won’t judge you for that either. At Space Ninety 8, you can sport your hipster badge with pride.
Dover Street Market
In December, the brilliant designer behind the Comme des Garcons brand, Rei Kawakubo, unleashed the Dover Street Market on New York’s shopping scene. Visually, the market is a cross between an art gallery and a store, with seven floors of uniquely designed spaces for beautiful luxury items from brands like Prada, Saint Laurent, and Alexander Wang. Emphasizing the artistic side is the ephemeral quality of the space: Dover Street Market will close every 6-12 months so that a total physical transformation can take place. And clothes aren’t the only thing being offered; intrepid shoppers will find delicious pound cake at Rose Bakery, funky glasses at Moscot, and all sorts of stylish items for the home at Good Design.
Since opening in mid-2010, Eataly has attracted plenty of attention. The labels used to describe it—a “funhouse” (Eater), a “circus” (Adam Platt’s daughter), and a “mega-temple” (The Huffington Post)—provide a good overview of what the 50,000-square-foot Italian market is like once you step inside. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s enormous, and, as with many other tourist attractions, a visitor would have to return many times to fully experience the place. Our suggested itinerary for a first timer? Begin with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto at the centrally located La Piazza, head upstairs to La Birreria for fresh air and a couple of beers, and end your excursion on a sweet note, with a stop at the newly opened Nutella bar.
Open since 1997, this conveniently located market, which offers numerous eating, drinking, and shopping options, is a crowd pleaser. If you’re in the mood for a snack, grab a fresh sandwich from Lucy’s Whey or a cold treat from People’s Pops; if it’s a full meal you need, sit down for a burger from Friedman’s Lunch or sushi from Morimoto; if you’re craving a drink, pick up a bottle from Chelsea Wine Vault or a beer at the Tippler; and if you need to indulge your inner shopaholic, drop by Anthropologie or one of the various sales and fleas Chelsea Market hosts throughout the year.