Lower Manhattan’s tally of food halls has swollen by two in recent weeks, as the City Acres market opened at 70 Pine Street (near the corner of Pearl Street), in the Financial District, and Canal Street Market (at 256 Canal Street, between Lafayette Street and Cortland Alley) expanded from retail into prepared foods. Both outposts are part of the so-called “grocerant” trend, which offers a hybrid of grocery comestibles and restaurant fare.
City Acres is the younger sibling of a stylish food destination of the same name in Williamsburg, which opened in 2013. The Pine Street location, which opened in July with 13,000 square feet of space, is only slightly smaller than its Brooklyn namesake. Among the offerings are the FiDi outposts of highly regarded restaurants like Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, Vanessa’s Dumpling House, the Cinnamon Snail and Beyond Sushi, along with the first American location for Dutch cold-pressed juice maker JuiceBrothers. It is presided over by executive chef Stephen Yen, who hones his skills at legendary restaurants Morimoto and Catch.
While food halls generally think of their mix of vendors are “curated,” the roster at Canal Street Market is pointedly eclectic. A space that once housed a flea market full of stalls hawking tourist claptrap is now home to culinary innovators like chef Philippe Massoud, who improvises a menu of Lebanese staples with Chinese accents. A few steps away, Uma Temakeria offers sushi burritos, and Davey’s Ice Cream (which has attracted a cult-like following in the East Village), churns out flavors like black sesame and brown butter rosemary, and the legendary dumpling chefs from Nom Wah handrail wontons to order. The food section at Canal Street Market opened in May, following a December launch for the dry goods area, which features brands like florist Fox Fodder Farm and Keap Candles.
The vogue for dining at communal tables, while also shopping for produce and takeout began in Lower Manhattan in 2012, when the acclaimed All Good Things market and restaurant opened on Franklin Street. Although the establishment garnered universal praise, this was not enough to sustain it in a sluggish economy, and it closed two years later. A few months after All Good Things shuttered, however, Hudson Eats opened at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City, along with Le District, a French-inspired marketplace and collection of restaurants. In August, 2016, the wave gathered further momentum with the debut of Eataly in the World Trade Center complex.
Although the food hall concept originated in Europe, it has gained increasing traction with American consumers, who prize the perceived authenticity of eating and shopping in a stage-set atmosphere, along with the variety and quality offered by a marketplace that showcases independent and artisanal producers, while catering to locavores and customers seeking organic offerings.
All of which means that City Acres and Canal Street Market will not be the last Downtown entrants in the craze. Renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is slated soon to debut a combined seafood restaurant and fish marketplace (totaling more than 40,000 square feet) in the South Street Seaport complex, now being redeveloped by the Howard Hughes Corporation.