When restaurants meet retail therapy

When I think back to the early days of the pandemic in New York, my memories are bittersweet. It was a stressful and scary time, of cou...


When I think back to the early days of the pandemic in New York, my memories are bittersweet. It was a stressful and scary time, of course. But there were also nice, quiet moments: congregating in the park, sitting exactly six feet apart. Drinks and dinner on the front steps (again, six feet apart). Weekly game nights on Zoom.

For me, a staple activity was visiting a small restaurant market Hart’s in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where you could buy ready meals, tote bags, very good olive oil, canned fish, fresh produce, wines at wholesale prices and breads sourdough.

The market is long gone – I still have their pint containers, the labels crumpled up from repeated washing of the dishes – but the crossover between shopping and dining is eternal. This has long been the philosophy of institutions like Zabar’s, by Kalustyan, Sahadis and, maximally, Eatalywhere hard-to-find ingredients were readily available to those looking to taste at home.

Megamarkets are always a good time, but I’m also drawn to small markets for certain restaurants. Here are a few that fit the bill.

In May, Pine & Polk arrived in Hudson Square, bringing with it an assortment of smaller brands like Brightland olive oil, Brooklyn Biltong and Seed & Mill halva alongside cookbooks and sage packets. What about food? It’s behind the chocolate bar shelf which is actually a door to the speakeasy Pacific Standard. There are snack boards and cheese platters if you’re just looking for a pre- or post-dinner meal, but there’s also a hearty chicken sandwich and grilled cheese if you need a good meal.

If you are vegan or vegan-curiousfive year old child orchard grocer on the Lower East Side remains the place to eat and buy vegan dairy, meat alternatives, candies and snacks while waiting for Edith: salmon with carrots, cashew cheese, capers and chives on a vegan bagel. The entire menu is full of veganized versions of classic sandwiches like the Cubano, BLT, grilled cheese, and what I would call a no-bacon, no-egg, no-cheese (the Miles).

To Edith’s restaurant and grocery store, a modern Jewish restaurant in East Williamsburg, you’ll find Russian pastrami and eggs and pancakes with farmhouse cheese for brunch, which is served until 5 p.m. daily. There’s also a market selling freekeh, marshmallow twists and tahini from the 115-year-old Brooklyn-born brand Joyva, rose water from Al Wadi and Jewish cookbooks, including copies of “The Jewish Cookery Book” by Esther Levy, published in 1871.

(I recently dropped by for dinner and it was a ghost town! Check it out if you’re looking for an amazing last minute meal. The Romanian steak, fingerling potatoes and homemade malawach-a bread puff pastry – worth a try.)

And when I worked for New York magazine, my favorite lunch spot was the Sunrise Mart location in SoHo, where I could eat chicken katsu or sushi for lunch and pick up ume plums, dashi, and matcha Kit-Kats to take home.

Keep these places in mind when shopping for gifts for people you can’t shop for. (They already have a lot of shirts and they’ve lived so long without Fitbit!) They won’t soon forget the gift of culinary delights you gave them.


  • Nearly 15 years after his run on Avenue C, Pete Wells saw again Restaurant Kafanacharting its transformation from a home away from home for Serbs into a haven for meat and wine lovers.

  • Openings: Kitchen Alba brings “holiday Italian” to West 18th Street next week; this Thursday the Dominican restaurant NYC will open at the new Radio Hotel in Washington Heights; and West Village’s beloved hot pot restaurant Hakata TonTon is back — in Midtown.

  • Tejal Rao written about the “bright, delicate and constantly evolving” cuisine of the Taiwanese restaurant Good to eat dumplings in Emeryville, California, and how it fits into this politically difficult time for Taiwan.

  • Have you seen this lamp? Priya Krishna reported on the rise of the Pina Prothe expensive table lamp that took over outdoor dining in New York.

  • Half of the world’s population has H.pylori, stomach bacteria it was linked to peptic ulcers and other digestive problems. So, Priya asks, why don’t more people know?

  • The New York Times Food Festival returns October 8, with live cooking demonstrations; conversations with Ina Garten, Padma Lakshmi and many others; cookbook signings; and lots of eating. Buy your tickets here.

Email us at wheretoeat@nytimes.com. Newsletters will be archived here. Follow NYT Food on Twitter and NYT Cook on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and pinterest.



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