You’re hungry, and your eyes need a bit of a rest: you’ve been visiting galleries in Chelsea, and now you need lunch. Or perhaps you’re fueling up before feasting your eyes on some of the best art New York has to offer. Either way, below are our five favorite places to grab lunch while gallery hopping in Chelsea. By Jessica Allen.
With a focus on seasonality, sustainability, and humanely raised and sourced products, Cookshop puts the food first. It’s easygoing and fuss-free, with a fun, lively atmosphere at lunch, brunch, breakfast, and dinner. Consider making a reservation, especially on nice days, when the patio overlooking Tenth Avenue fills up fast. Dishes range from seared Long Island squid with warm potatoes and whole grain mustard, to crispy fish tacos, to slow cooked mallard duck, to olive oil poached Arctic char.
Bars abound in Chelsea, but none boast the literary cred of the Half King. Co-owned by author Sebastian Junger, this pub runs a famed reading series (past participants include Bret Easton Ellis and Emily St. John Mandel). Ah, but we’re here for lunch. Perhaps we’ll start with spinach and artichoke dip, then move on to a buffalo burger or classic lamb shepherd’s pie. We’ll sit in one of the dark-paneled rooms or in the back garden. And when we finish, we’ll hop on the High Line for a quick stroll (the entrance is steps from the Half King’s other outdoor seating area).
Tucked under the High Line is the best pizza in West Chelsea: Ovest. Run by the same folks as Luzzo’s in the East Village, Ovest specializes in Naples-style dining, with a strong selection of wines from the old country. The deep, brick-lined space serves as a reminder of the area’s not-so-distant industrial past, but the vibe is decidedly more decadent. Homemade pastas include ravioli, orecchiette, and spaghettoni, while the pizzas have such toppings as black olives, ricotta, basil, and proscuitto.
Pepe Giallo sits quietly, unassumingly, along a stretch of Tenth Avenue. But don’t let the lack of showboating fool you: while other restaurants in Chelsea preen and strut, since 1997 this one has focused on producing top-notch Italian specialties like fusilli with seasonal vegetables, pappardelle with sausage and spicy tomato sauce, and gnocchi gorgonzola, or, if you’d rather have protein, chicken milanese, poached salmon, and branzino. You can sit in the bright, warm, friendly dining room or the truly excellent back garden.
Now in its second decade, Tía Pol serves tapas and more. Lunch specials include sandwiches like escalivada (with cheese, roasted vegetables, and black olive vinaigrette) and po’boy de calamares madrileño (crispy squid, lettuce, aioli, and tomato), or you can order off the tapas menu. We’re very fond of the spicy fried potatoes, shrimp in olive oil with garlic and chili, octopus salad with white beans and romesco, and veal tongue with pickled red onion and watercress — but, really, it’s all good here.