Of all of the former food deserts that Urbanspace has effectively transformed into culinary hubs, the chain eatery-occupied Garment District was probably most in need of hydration. So to the great relief, we’re sure, of area office workers, the market is officially back for the fall season, serving up on-the-go meatballs, Taiwanese bao, and yes, lots and lots (and lots) of tacos. Here are some of the best bites…
Meatball Obsession: Move over Meatball Shop. The Bay Ridge-born owner of gourmet market favorite, Mama Mancini’s, is bringing his nonna’s Italian specialties to Urbanspace; offering highly portable beef, turkey, or pork sausage meatballs in a cup, topped with sautéed peppers and onions, milky mozzarella cheese “pearls,” or even mini ravioli or gnocchi!
Delicatessen Taco: Providing a bit of a reprieve from the Asian-inspired tacos that seem to dominate NYC’s street food scene nowadays, this offshoot of Macondo Taperia Latina serves tortillas stuffed with smoked meat and other deli-influenced accoutrements; think pastrami or brisket topped with chopped onions and whole grain mustard.
Coney Shack: What’s that we said about Asian-inspired tacos? Although to be fair, the fillings at Coney Shack are unique in that they’re Southeast Asian-inspired (as opposed to Korean, Filipino or Japanese); we’re talking Vietnamese short rib with pickled daikon and radish. And there’s even an array of intriguing burritos, such as Malaysian Hainan chicken, satay mushroom, and Thit Ko porky pork.
Kaya NYC: Kaya specializes in the flavorful street fare of Taiwan, namely, an extensive assortment of fluffy steamed bao; piled with red curry chicken, pork belly, flank steak, fried tofu and Peking duck.
Zai Lai Chinese Grille: A far cry from greasy Chinese takeout, the fast-casual menu at Zai Lai is organic, sustainable, and entirely gluten free; look for lion’s head meatballs, braised brisket with star anise, winter bamboo and tamari-glazed eggplant, and chickpeas swathed in peanut sauce, poured over goji berry-studded rice.
Frida’s Favorites: While most market vendors favor modern, global twists, Frida’s Mexican menu is blessedly traditional; offering beautifully executed classics like tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas and nachos, furnished with chicken tinga, steak, assorted veggies or fish.