If you’ve ever found yourself near Madison Square in New York City, food probably wasn’t on your mind. Yes, Madison Square Park is home to the original Shake Shack, which has since popped up in more convenient – and more comfortable – locations. And there have been a few fancy restaurants in the area, but those seeking good food at reasonable prices were starved for choices.
In fact, Madison Square is a pocket of Manhattan that I typically try to avoid. The original Madison Square Garden was located in the neighborhood years ago (hence the name). They have cleaned up the square, converting much of it into a manageable pedestrian plaza that may actually be nicer than the park itself. But the only redeeming value of this location is that the famous Flatiron Building is located there, so you at least have something to look at.
I recently had to visit the area due to the incompetence of the greatest hub of malicious stupidity in the tri-state region, Time Warner Cable, whose Manhattan headquarters is located nearby. And hoping to restore my faith in mankind after that bile-boiling Time Warner experience, I crossed through the park to try Hill Country Fried Chicken. Along the way I came across a cluster of tents – food stalls – packed tightly onto the once-vacant sliver of land sandwiched between Broadway and Fifth Avenue beneath 25th Street.
It seems I had stumbled upon Madison Square Eats, a sort of spawn of Smorgasburg and the food truck craze. Although it’s unfortunately only there on a temporary basis (through Oct. 25th), the folks from Madison Square Park created this mini outdoor food court – albeit the antithesis of everything a food court has come to stand for – to add a little flavor to the neighborhood. And that it does, quite magnificently.
There’s Roberta’s Pizza – yes, that Roberta’s Pizza, from Williamsburg, with hardly a wait. There’s also Delaney Barbecue (I recommend the fried chicken tacos), Calexico, Mexicue, Sunday Gravy, Asia Dog, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and even Momofuku’s Milk Bar. Open from 11:00 AM through 9:00 PM daily, this is more than just a lunch spot. You can grab a beer at several of the stalls, including an offshoot of the Cannibal as well as Mason Jar and Mayhem & Stout. Even Sigmund’s Pretzels has taps. I also discovered some newcomers, such as Mighty Balls and Arancini Brothers. And, just like me, they didn’t forget dessert – with selections that include Nunu Chocolates (with taps, too), Melt Bakery, and my beloved Doughnuttery.
What an amazing find! I have found excuses to head back there once a week since I first stumbled upon it. It’s a pity it ends on Oct. 25th. And, yes, I should have posted this sooner, but I got greedy with the lack of lines at these eateries. Still, you’ve got a week to check it out, so quit your belly-aching and start your belly-filling!