Smorgasburg may have taken the concept and run with it, but UrbanSpace truly popularized the tradition of open-air food bazaars in NYC, starting with their Union Square and Columbus Circle holiday shops, and expanding to include seasonal hubs like Mad. Sq. Eats, Broadway Bites and Penn Plates. But those are all transient, weather-dependent endeavors, and just this week, the company finally debuted their very first permanent food hall called UrbanSpace Vanderbilt; a glittering, 12,000-square foot stunner, situated on the ground floor of 230 Park Avenue; a beaux-arts tower with original steel columns and graceful floor to ceiling windows.
And goodness knows, the area was in dire need of a gastronomic upgrade — overrun with cheap chains and sports bars, despite being located right near Grand Central Station, and ringed by major financial companies, such as JP Morgan Chase. So thanks to UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, with 21 vendors open from breakfast through dinner (many of them unique to the market, many others serving booze), it’s become a veritable one stop shop for all manner of amazing eats, including Fried Chicken, Veggie Burgers, Rose Popsicles and more. Here are some newcomers to look out for…
Delaney Chicken: Daniel Delaney has been known as the brisket king of Brooklyn for years now, but this stand may effectively assert him as the fried chicken prince of Midtown East. Expect giant joints of perfectly crisp bird with just the faintest hint of grease, puddled with hot sauce and paired with traditional sides like potato salad.
No. 7 Veggie: After realizing that the best-selling items at his restaurants and sandwich shops were, in fact, vegetarian (hello, Broccoli Tacos!), Tyler Kord decided to ditch the meat completely at his UrbanSpace Vanderbilt spot, with fast food-style Veggie Burgers (watch out, Brooks Headley), stacked with pickles, onions, and ketchup, or a variety of premium add-ons, such as smashed avocado, pickled beets, colby-jack cheese, or bacon-scallion relish. Okay, make that almost completely.
Mimi’s Hummus: If you’ve never made it out to Brooklyn’s sleepy Ditmas Park for Mimi’s incredible Israeli fare, like sumac-zapped Chicken Shawarma, tahini-tossed Cauliflower Salad, and the silkiest Hummus imaginable, thank UrbanSpace Vanderbilt for luring her out to Midtown.
La Palapa Tacos: Barbara Sibley’s colorful stand is devoted to Mexico City-style Tacos (think al pastor, fried fish and even oyster mushrooms), served with an array of fresh sauces and salsas, and refreshing drinks, including creamy Horchata and a refreshing Lime-Tequila Slush.
Maiden Lane: Tinned fish might seem a tough sell in a market brimming with fried chicken, doughnuts, braised beef sandwiches and more. But this slim offshoot of the East Village restaurant is one Vanderbilt’s most refined options by far, pairing natural wines with an array of gorgeous, preserved seafood, including fat Sardines, Octopus slicked with paprika, zippy Mussels Escabeche, Smoked Oysters, and plump ovals of stuffed Squid.
Amali Mou: While the growing Amali brand already includes both a successful restaurant, and a regular spot at UrbanSpace’s many outdoor markets, it’s worth visiting their casual, Vanderbilt outpost for one reason alone — Rose Popsicles — a decidedly upscale take on those hyper-colored freezer pops, generally found at Walgreens and Rite Aid.