75 9th Ave., Chelsea
Located in the old Nabisco building just north of the Meatpacking District, you'll find a warren-like maze of restaurants and specialty shops here. There are many hits, but we like Los Tacos No.1 for authentic Mexican and Num Pang for Asian-inflected sandwiches. And, if cooking a special meal at home is an option, we'd pick up our bread at Amy's, cheese at Lucy's Whey, fresh groceries at the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, and crustaceans at The Lobster Place (they also do great pre-made rolls). You'll also find Bowery Kitchen Supply, Chelsea Thai Wholesale, Kingdom of Herbs, and Posman Books, where the offerings are more suitcase-appropriate.
230 Ninth Ave., Chelsea
Not surprisingly, the pizza dough here is very distinctive, thanks to owner Jim Lahey—of Sullivan Street Bakery fame—and his devotion to good bread. Its casual atmosphere and the chef's terrific use of seasonal ingredients make this a special place.
435 W 15th St., Chelsea
In a city full of Middle Eastern food carts, Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani’s Chelsea Market restaurant goes beyond serving just the regional classics. Shani’s known for pillowy pita bread, but instead of the usual suspects (shawarma, falafel), Miznon fills it with ratatouille, hake, and even a cheeseburger. The whole roasted cauliflower, which is first pressure-cooked in salt water, then roasted whole with just olive oil, is served with Israeli-imported tahini and is absolutely delicious.
158 8th Ave., Chelsea
Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman (Jospeh Leonard, Fedora) and Momofuku's vet Tien Ho launched this French-American bistro in Chelsea. The short menu is bursting with fresh, light, and modern takes on classics from fettucine to bacon-wrapped roast chicken. Weather permitting, dine in their beautifully rustic, tiled garden, surrounded by pots of herbs.
184 8th Ave., Chelsea
The specialty here is Neapolitan-style pizza—look closely, and you’ll see the counter is made of pizza peels. Decor-wise, this is the essential pizza joint, except there’s also a full-functioning bar serving up killer cocktails and over 40 Italian beers. The menu is split into two sections: Classica (Napoletana with organic tomatoes and anchovies) and Nuova (sea urchin and pecorino-topped Urcina). All are fired inside a custom-built Stradivarius oven, resulting in perfect pies every time. There’s also a selection of imported pastas, cheeses, salumi, and a deep Italian wine list.
The Red Cat
227 10th Ave., Chelsea
For years, despite all the foot traffic from the art crowd, there were few, if any, good restaurants in Chelsea. The Red Cat came along in the 90s and changed that, and remains, to this day, one of the few great restaurants in the area. With a laid-back New England vibe, and elegant, American food, it’s a great option for a dressy meal in the West 20s.
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