The sell I got was, “Let’s meet around noon on Monday. We should really go to Gotham West Market because it’s great and you’ll love it…”
“…but it’s kind of a trek to get there.” Okaaaaaaay.
Never one to shy away from a bit of an adventure, I hopped on the subway in Brooklyn, rode into Manhattan, and full disclosure, got off at Union Square and took a cab the rest of the way to the corner of 45th St & 11th Ave. Listen, I don’t mind a good hike in the big city, but walking three avenue blocks from the nearest subway stop is pushing it on one of the only days all summer that was above 90 degrees.
When I arrived at my destination, however, I could tell immediately that the journey was worth it. The Gotham West Market space is airy and bright, with an industrial vibe that is cool but not ‘too cool’, if you know what I mean. It’s what a cafeteria for adults should be — a little schmancy, full of great food in a fun atmosphere, and enough variety in seating that everyone feels like they’re sitting at the cool kids’ table. There are great nooks to tuck into, whether to break out your laptop and get down to work or to catch up with friends over a bowl of killer ramen (I did both).
The vendors range in offerings from tacos (Choza Taqueria) to coffee (Blue Bottle) to ice cream (Jeni’s! YUM) to the aforementioned ramen (Ivan Ramen), and while I didn’t sample from every vendor, all of them seemed to bring their A game when it comes to design and to the quality of food and drink.
It also looks like there will be opportunities for new vendors to join the party throughout the year (for example, according to GWM’s website, Jeni’s Ice Cream is a ‘2014 Summer pop-up’). More variety means more reasons to return, something I plan to do often.
For me, this is the ideal place for several reasons. First, if I want to grab lunch and hang by myself while I get a little work done, it’s great. In the three hours I was there, it was never too raucous (although it was during the day on a weekday, so not sure what it’s like around dinnertime), so it works well as a creative environment where you can still concentrate.
Second, it’s a great option when you have guests in town, as it’s a unique, ‘New York experience’ that’s not a straight up tourist destination. With the variety of offerings, everyone can have what they want without too much coordination or fuss.
And third, and I wish I had thought about this before, it’s actually a great starting or ending point for a nice little bike ride along the Hudson (this one was my friend Jaime’s idea, and she seemed to highly enjoy it, even in the heat of the day). Grab a Citibike downtown and ride up the Westside Highway to grab lunch (there’s a Citibike station at 46th & 11th) or head to the market first then work off that ramen with a post-meal ride. Or do both. Go crazy with it.
However you arrive at Gotham West Market, and for whatever reason you’re there, you’re in for a treat. With food halls popping up all over NYC (next stop, Berg’n), it’s sure to be a popular spot, and GWM has great legs to stand on. I’m excited to see what’s to come for this unique (and delicious) Hell’s Kitchen gem.