What about having some delicious tapas followed by some calçots and an authentic paella valenciana together with a refreshing sangria in New York? Yes! you can have it all and much more delicious food as if you were in Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Madrid…should you trust a Catalan foodie living in the US.
A post on a new Spanish gastronomy concept in New York is probably more interesting for local readers than for those at the other side of the Atlantic. Frankly speaking, while living in Catalonia I never had the need to discover Spanish restaurants abroad. As a humble foodie traveler, an important part of my trips’ discoveries and motivations are local food and typical or original places where to train and delight my palate with unknown delicacies.
As an expatriate in the US now and in Denmark, Germany and Finland many years ago, I always found it hard to come across a decent offer of Spanish food abroad. The rich, delicious and diverse gastronomy of the Iberian Peninsula is difficult to export, because it is mostly based on local and fresh ingredients, produce, meat and fish. This is the main reason why the offer is quite restricted and, if good, quite pricy.
We have been living in Maryland for the past three years now and even in terms of private cooking my wife Elena, an excellent cook recognized by the thousands of guests we hosted for ten years at the Hostal Nou de Crespià, has had difficulties to reproduce her best recipes, much to my sorrow, because of the lack of the necessary raw materials. But don’t panic nor feel sorry for me, she keeps on performing her magic in the kitchen with other options, when she feels like.
Still, we are lucky enough to live in a cosmopolitan area with a relevant foodie population, so whenever my stomach feels homesick, I can always enjoy a more than decent botifarra amb mongetes, paella, tapas, fideuà, and more in Behtesda at Jaleo, the restaurant of the cook-celebrity José Andrés who also runs other fine Spanish and non-Spanish food establishments in DC.
There are always thousands of reasons to go to New York and now this successful gastronomy businessman and the world’s greatest cooking genius Ferran Adrià and his brother Albert have joined to add a new one by recently opening a unique and attractive food concept in the brand new and trendy neighborhood of the Hudson Yards in West Manhattan: Mercado Little Spain.
The Mercado is part of a new dining hub in the city that never sleeps and always eats. An impressive offer of excellent restaurants that will attract thousands of visitors to this new neighborhood developed on the former rail yards grounds at the end of the High Line.
A couple of weeks ago I had to attend a professional event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, which to my delight is located just one block away from the Yards. Perfect timing between the end of the event and my trip back to Bethesda. I had a couple of hours to climb the Vessel and to have lunch at the Mercado, a temptation I could not resist.
Thera are two entrances to the site, one from the 30th street, down and in front of the High Line, and the other one from the ground floor of the one-million-square-foot, seven-story building, the Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards.
The whole concept is quite brilliant, it is a huge food hall that pretends to reproduce a typical urban Spanish food market. Two restaurants, three bars, two coffee-shops and twelve kiosks, each one specialized in a particular kind of food or beverage, provide hundreds of delicacies for pick up or to enjoy on site.
My experience during this discovery was more than rewarding. I was hungry, my stomach was homesick and everything looked and smelled delicious. Not easy to make a choice. At lunch time both restaurants are closed, so I headed to the kiosks and let my instinct decide. A tapa of patatas bravas, a flauta of pà amb tomàquet and jamón ibérico and a paella valenciana made my day. I had no room for anything else. Except for the price, all three choices would be more than acceptable in Spain. May be the patatas bravas were not that delightful, but I am addicted and spoiled by the best bravas in Barcelona of Bar Tomàs. Getting back to pricing, well it is reasonable for Manhattan standards, but any Spaniard would tell you that he or she can get the same for half price at home.
I went about 2PM, the atmosphere was good and lines not that long. I have been told that the place gets crowded at dinner time. A good sign was to see many Spanish expats amongst the guests. This is a guarantee that food, taste and offer are authentic.
If you ever go to Hudson Yards and you would like to have a new or a refreshed experience on Spanish gastronomy, this is the place to go. You are quite likely to find some of your favorite Spanish specialties or some tapas or dishes and drinks that you would like to taste for the first time. The offer is wide and spread on different kiosks, bars and restaurants, you can get a bit lost, so maybe it is a good idea to previously check the menus on the Mercado’s website https://www.littlespain.com .
So, a good plan for half day or full day visit in New York is to have a walk on the High Line up to the Hudson Yards, climb the Vessel, have a new look of the city from the Edge and reward your stomach with some Spanish delicacies at the Mercado Little Spain.
Good food, good vibe, exciting new environment, New York…. sure I will repeat and take my family to Hudson Yards and Mercado Little Spain next time we go to the Big Apple.
During my visit I shot a short video to show a bit on the place.
Bon profit! Buen provecho! On engin! Bon proveito ! Enjoy!