There’s nothing better than making a food itinerary when you visit a new city (or is that just us?). We recommend planning a meal or two in Chelsea, one of the key gayborhoods in New York and a center of great eats. Below are 12 fantastic options for food and drink in Chelsea ranging from $3.50 take-out tacos to immaculate, made-to-order sushi.
Del Posto gets everything note-perfect from the award-winning wine list to the luscious pasta to the grand spiral staircase in the center of the restaurant. This Italian eatery received a staggering four stars in the New York Times 8 years ago and maintains a flawless reputation for its tasty innovations. The kitchen has recently changed hands to Executive Chef Melissa Rodriguez, who’s no stranger to outstanding pasta-making. It’s an exceptional spot for a somewhat fancy dinner (upscale but not too stuffy) at very fancy prices. The standard tasting menu, serving five courses, is $164 per person, while the lunch also makes an attractive option at $59 for three courses. 85 10th Ave., 212-497-8090, delposto.com
Established in 2005, Lasagna Restaurant offers comfort food and friendly staff. Their delicious, homemade food includes 17 different lasagnas baked to order, as well as veal, chicken, fish dishes and pasta of many nations. They offer full service of wine, beer, and liquor bar. 196 8th Avenue., lasagnarestaurantchelsea.com
Salinas romances each and every diner with ambiance and arroz. Serving traditional Spanish fare, this restaurant is one revelation after another, from the charcuterie to the grilled chicken entree. You’ll also find plenty of pork, seafood, and rich Spanish wines here. Don’t miss the fideo (pasta), Chef Luis Bollo’s nod to traditional Spanish noodles dishes. The menu notes key allergens for all dishes to accommodate dietary restrictions. Salinas boasts a bevy of fresh flowers throughout the space and a retractable roof in the back area that’s perfect for summer dining. 136 9th Ave., 212-776-1990, salinasnyc.com
Los Tacos No. 1
Picnic on the High Line? Los Tacos No. 1 is your go-to for fantastic Mexican street food near the elevated park. At about $3.50 apiece, we can attest that these are the first and best tacos in the city, but no one is 100% sure why. Is it the cone of perfectly seasoned adobada pork behind the counter, or something about the handmade tortillas, or the unfussy toppings? Maybe it’s the bright aguas frescas that wash it all down. Regardless, you’ll know why the tacos are #1 the second you put them in your mouth. Be forewarned, though: this Chelsea Market location has no seating (even more reason to picnic). If Los Tacos is too busy, visit sister taqueria Los Mariscos nearby. 75 9th Ave., 212-246-0343, lostacos1.com
The popular Cookshop makes farm-to-table eating accessible for locals and visitors alike. Stop by for seasonal salads, snacks, and sides made with ingredients from regional producers. At dinner this season, the black sea bass is accompanied by littleneck clams, chile, and parsley potatoes, while the Berkshire pork chop rests on a bed of sweet potato and apple hash. With great comfort food all around, brunch at Cookshop is also a great idea: expect gluten free almond pancakes and an egg sandwich with jalapeno sauce, cheddar, and breakfast sausage. 156 10th Ave., 212-924-4440, cookshopny.com
Socarrat Paella Bar
Socarrat, the quintessence of the perfect paella and for which the restaurant is named, is the delectable, sensuous crust that forms on the bottom of the paella pan when the liquid is rendered and the rice reaches its peak of succulence. The menu, an authentic array of delicious dishes from the regions of Spain specializing in traditional tapas with an accent on paella and fideua (which substitutes fried noodles for rice) that can be characterized as a true exploration for the palette. 259 W 19th Street, 212-462-1000 socarratnyc.com
Txikito (chi-KEE-to) serves Spanish dishes from the Basque region, a tradition the restaurant website calls “austere but sensual.” That’s as good a reason as any to explore the pared-back tapas at this effort from Alex Raij and Eder Montero (their other restaurant El Quinto Pino, also wonderful, lies right around the corner). Order the Txangurro, an assembly of deviled crab, and Foie Micuit, toast topped with foie gras terrine and sea salt. The fries with spicy cod roe-infused mayo are another essential from this seafood-forward menu. 240 9th Ave., 212-242-4730, txikitonyc.com
There’s quite a lot of sushi to be had in Chelsea, from standard California rolls to high-level omakase. Sushi Seki plays to both sides of the spectrum but is best enjoyed from a seat at the small sushi counter, where you’ll find a refreshing omakase selection full of delectable, offbeat creations. You’ll pay more for this daily tasting menu than anything else on offer, but once you taste the fresh seafood you’ll see why. Sushi Seki also has locations in Times Square and on the Upper East Side. 208 W 23rd St., 212-255-5988, sushiseki.com
You can’t miss the Empire Diner, a slick silver facade on Tenth Avenue that’s straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. An update on classic diner fare, Empire Diner’s menu wows with the pastrami sandwich, special burger, and sourdough pretzel fried chicken. These entrees all feature on the all-day menu as well as the dinner menu, since Empire serves food from breakfast until late-night every day. Like any diner worth its salt—or sugar, as the case may be—the dessert menu is great top-to-bottom, from creme brulee doughnuts served with mini coffee milkshakes to the salted chocolate layer cake made with smooth chocolate ganache. 210 10th Ave., 212-335-2277, empire-diner.com
Foragers began as a market in Brooklyn sourcing local ingredients. Now, alongside its second market in Chelsea, they have established a sleek dining room full of farm-to-table cuisine. Like Cookshop, you can eat a filling brunch or dinner at Foragers Table and know the ingredients were grown or raised nearby. At brunch, regulars recommend the smoked salmon tartine or Merguez sausage with egg and chickpea stew. At dinner, start with the beautiful Foragers Farm Salad and go for the daily Butcher’s Cut as your entree. 300 W 22nd, 212-243-8888, foragersmarket.com
Our second and final nod to the very handy Chelsea Market food hall is Miznon. This Israeli pita counter started in Tel Aviv under chef Eyal Shani, who brought it here just last year. Your fresh-baked pita can be filled with traditional lamb kabob or more surprising mixtures like ratatouille, avocado and egg salad, or a burger patty with cheese and the works. Miznon’s small counter also serves beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as “out-of-the-pita” dishes like the signature whole head of roasted cauliflower. If you’re looking for another picnic option, grab a cheeseburger pita here and head up to the High Line nearby. 435 W 15th St., 646-490-5871, miznonnyc.com
The vegan restaurant Blossom deserves consideration whether you’re a plant-eater or just want to try something different. On this menu, there’s plenty of cashew cheese to go around, plus protein-rich seitan, quinoa, and tofu. The standout Tuscan Kale Salad, served at lunch and dinner, is topped with apple, cashew, and dijon-tahini dressing. The delectable Cashew Cream Ravioli and Pine-Nut-Crusted Eggplant make fine and surprisingly filling main courses. Don’t skimp on desserts like Lemon Cheesecake and Chocolate Ganache with peanut butter drizzle. After brunch, lunch, or dinner, you’ll walk out of Blossom full and happy! 187 9th Ave, 212-627-11442, blossomnyc.com/chelsea
Source: Merrill Lee Girardeau for Metrosource.