While not exactly a food court, per se, Empire Stores presents an impressive gathering of unique culinary concepts, in one of the city’s most breathtaking locations. Think a 19th century warehouse complete with original architecture (brick masonry façade, 14-foot ceilings, schist stone walls), abutting DUMBO’s waterfront panorama of the Empire State building, Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge.
Here’s a look at the recently debuted complex’s lucky new tenants, including the glittering Venetian Cecconi’s and Vinegar Hill House’s casual, all-day offshoot.
Cecconi’s: Born in Venice, and with characteristically swank locations in Hollywood, Miami Beach, Barcelona, London and Berlin, Soho House’s Cecconi’s has settled in cosmopolitan Brooklyn — specifically to take advantage of an enviable location set directly next to the DUMBO waterfront. 240 seats are divided between a bar, dining room and outdoor patio, which is the preferred place to enjoy an assortment of spritzes (made, not only from aperol, but contratto, limoncello and fernet), as well as baccala crostini, risotto verde and wood-fired porchetta pizzette from a Trieste-born chef.
VHH Foods: Marking Vinegar Hill House’s first foray outside of their tucked away neighborhood (save for a short-lived venture at Rockaway Beach), this all-day café will surely prove all things to the in-development neighborhood, supplying third wave coffee and breakfast tacos for area office workers, “Park Meals” packed with Meat Hook hot dogs, watermelon salad and gluten-free cookies for the tourist hordes, and to-go dinners of roasted chicken, shaved beets and tapioca puddings for tenants in the surrounding high rises.
Smile to Go: Situated at the back of the Shinola store, this is the fourth casual spin-off of Matt Kliegman’s studiously hip The Smile, specializing in day-to-night fare like English muffin egg sandwiches, chickpea salad pitas, and — going head to head with VHH — rotisserie chickens with sides such as roasted beets and sweets, quinoa with shitake mushrooms, and snap peas, cucumbers and radishes in a Dijon vinaigrette.
FEED Shop and Café: Lauren Bush Lauren has expanded her philanthropic online handbag retailer into a food-focused brick-and-mortar; which donates “meals” to United Nations World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Feeding America, for every cup of La Colombe coffee or City Bakery-sourced item sold.
SUGARCANE Raw Bar & Grill: The Miami hotspot joins Cecconi’s on the waterfront side of Empire, for equally awesome views but entirely different eats; think shellfish towers, Florida snapper ceviche, open fire-grilled proteins and rum-forward cocktails such as beet mojitos, Mount Gay Black Barrel old fashioneds, and Flor de Cana mules.
DUMBO House: The members-only Soho House expands its reach with an exclusive club on the top two floors of the warehouse. But you’ll need to fill out an application (complete with recommendations from current members), and fork over at least 1,000 a year in dues if you want to avail yourself of cocktail pitchers, late night double cheeseburgers and an al fresco terrace, looking out on the Statue of Liberty.
53-83 Water St