“#MercadoLittleSpain is going to be an amazing bridge between America and #Spain – like you’re traveling through time and space and you are in America and in Spain at the same time.” José Andrés*
LITTLE SPAIN IN THE BIG APPLE
By Ann Fox
Pics: A. Fox unless otherwise stated
Picture the Mercado de San Miguel surrounded by tons of glass and steel and you have some idea of José Andres’ Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards in Manhattan.
This chef-driven food hall and eatery is located near the 30th street stairs to the High Line and around the corner from the newest must-see art experience, the Vessel, known locally as the copper rib cage. The entire area is the largest private real estate development in the U.S. and sits on a platform built above an active storage yard of the Long Island Railroad. (If you feel the earth shaking under your feet after a few riojas at Little Spain, don’t worry. It could be a train passing underneath the flooring).
As soon as the Mercado opened, the Guidepost Galloping Gourmets heading over to fill their own rib cages. It was Saturday and the place was packed. However, we had a pre-arranged quasi military plan: we’d split up our list of must-have foods, like patatas bravas, lacon, and tortilla, then wait on the respective lines and meet at a designated spot to eat our delicacies. The place is set up like a mercado in Spain. There are puestos more or less in the center of the space for churros, bravas, frutas, Jamon y queso, tortilla, mariscos, helados even paella and the like. You can grab and go or sit at one of the tables scattered around. This is where the plan fell apart. The GGGs couldn’t find any tables in that crowd, so they gobbled down the food before meeting up with the brains of the operation – me.
There was nothing to do but drown my sorrows in a few riojas at the lively wine bar set up in the center of all the culinary kiosks. I sent the underlings over for some horchata. They somehow found their way to the cocktail bar near the entrance. You can’t get good help these days.
There are sit-down eating options, too. A Spanish Diner, which was not yet open when we were there, promises a lot of egg dishes. As long as they have my white diet of patatas ali oli and natillas, I’ll be happy. Leña, serves wood-fired dishes, including meats and paellas, with or without rabbit. Our choice that day was Mar, the seafood restaurant which serves everything from the sea, including, again, paella. The food was superb, but in our enthusiasm, we ordered a plate of delicious baby squid stuffed with sobrasada, that at $30 for three small morsels was a bit exaggerated. Guidepost spares nothing in its quest for the best, but cuidado.
Staff walks around in a charming t-shirt that says come y bebe que la vida es breve but since we blew the budget on calamares, we left without one. Not so bad, you can’t eat a t-shirt. Rather, we spent the last centimos on pasteles y café and vowed to come back for more culinary delights.
By the way, that platform between you and the railroad is stabilized and re-enforced by hundreds of concrete caissons, trusses and columns, so if you feel a rumble – you’ve definitely had too much rioja.
*From Little Spain Facebook
Featured image/Instagramer, Fair use
San Miguel/Juan Carlos Rojo, CC BY-ND2.0
Mar/Little Spain website, Fair use