Columbus Circle Holiday Market Might Be the Best Lunch in Town Right Now

Columbus Circle Market

I generally don’t get excited when a major establishment sends me a glossy press release about an upcoming special event. The ersatz nature of the Columbus Circle pop-up Holiday market smacks at my general preference for hole-in-the-wall places and secret spaces, whether they be in Midtown, the Village or Brooklyn. So I was more than excited to see some of my far flung favorites make an appearance, like Crif Dogs, Fatty Crab, and Pies n Thighs among others. Lingering questions remained though – would the quality of food be as good as the original? And is it possible to construct a $10 Midtown lunch in one of the most opulent areas of the city, right on the doorsteps of the house of Per Se?

The answer is Yes and Yes.

Crif Dogs menu

Crif Dogs

There are plenty of hearty, moderately priced snacks to assemble a filling lunch, such as Crif Dog’s Chihuahua dog ($5). There’s apparently a transportation cost of moving this bacon wrapped and avocado studded dog from Alphabet City, where they’re normally $4.50. But flavor wise, the Cardiologist’s worst nightmare is close to the original. Add a side of tater tots (S-$3 / L-$4) and you’re in for a filling lunch.

Cascabel menu

Cascabel taco

Cascabel Taqueria’s UES location has always been far out of bounds for me, even during non-lunch hours, so I applaud Columbus Circle for bringing yet another far flung food item for grateful Midtown lunchers. I sampled a carnitas taco ($3), three of which would easily make a hearty, meaty lunch. However, there were textural issues as my single wrapped corn tortilla disintegrated when I tried to pick it up. The meat was also on the dry side, but generously applied.

Fatty menu

braised beef sandwich

You don’t expect value for money or authenticity when dining at Fatty Crabs or Fatty Cue (West Village, UWS, So. Williamsburg). Instead, it’s all about the big and bold flavors, such as their Asian riff on a steak sandwich ($9). Though small in stature, the flavors in this sandwich are out of control from the creamy cheese, richness of the braised beef, and a good background heat from chilis. I would gladly break the $10 mark for another round of this sandwich, supplemented by their chicken and dumpling soup ($7).

Pies n Thighs menu

Pies n Thighs

It’s a hike and a half to travel from Manhattan to the original Pies n Thighs in South Williamsburg, but it’s a journey I’ve made in the past without hesitation. Having a Pies n Thighs in our own backyard is simply too good to be true. The Columbus Circle spin-off does justice to the original chicken sandwich ($6) – my biscuit was flaky, dense, and rich, while the chicken is slightly crispy with a Buffalo chicken like exterior. Be prepared for a bit of a wait as they fry the chicken biscuit sandwiches to order. You’ll be glad you did.

Pies n Thighs collard greens

Collard greens ($3) at Pies n Thighs is another success. This soul food favorite is perfectly braised and tender, with a satisfying twang of hot sauce and vinegar. Don’t let the suspiciously healthy cruciferous appearance fool you, as there are nubs of pork fat to add richness and body.

In short, the Columbus Circle market has done an admirable job of giving tourists and Midtown lunchers an eclectic taste of New York flavors from every corner of Manhattan and beyond. If one orders wisely, it’s easy to assemble a filling, delicious and cheap meal with endless iterations. Even though Columbus Circle is out of bounds and mobbed with tourists, I’ll certainly be back for another round of Pies n Thighs and Fatty Cue – it almost beats taking the hel(L) train to Williamsburg.

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market will be operating from December 1 – December 24, 2010.
Open every day from 10am – 8pm
Official Website


  • oh man, all of that looks great!

  • pies n thighs biscuit looks awesome. too bad about the carnitas taco.. whenever i eat it at the restaurant, it’s always delicious and stays intact.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    those all look really small though :-\

  • the chicken biscuit looks delish. might have to pick one up after work.

  • Nice looking eats.
    What? No tater tots? Boo.

    • I love tots, but I was already up in the 2k calorie range w/all this food. For the record, I only ate half of each item for lunch and saved the rest for din.

  • Went by over the weekend and must say the chicken biscuit was pretty awesome. But you left out the biggest surprise of the market – Les Canelés de Céline has a stand there!

    Canelés were my obsession this year even though I couldn’t really find them anywhere. I had heard of Celine before but she doesnt have a real shop – she apparently sells them out of her UES office somehow. Anyway, she had a bunch of flavors. All really well made and definitely worth the treat. I think they were $1.50 each or $10 for 10.

    • ah yes, sorry for omitting that – i’m not really a dessert person. Perhaps Blondie and Brownie can give us their take on the sweet options at the market.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Just had the Pies n thighs chicken biscuit for lunch. It is definitely in the “holy crap I cant believe how good this is!!!” category of foods.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Don’t forget the Sigmund Pretzels!!! They’re awesome and they heat them up, too!

  • The market has been terrific. I have been there three times already and I’m going back today for a Chicken Biscuit.

    First visit: Pies and Thies Chicken Biscuit and Collards. b-eats has it right. It is in the “holy crap” category. If you can only go to the market once, go to Pies and Thies.

    2nd visit: German Brat the Germans and Chicken taco from Cascabel. Brat was OK. Chicken taco was great. I loved the chicken chicharon. It added texture and flavor. Also highly recommended.

    3rd visit: Fatty Crab steak sandwich. Sandwich was terrific. Meat was tender. Lots of flavor. Very enjoyable. They said that they ran out of meat because they were suddenly busy after throwing out meat day after day. I think there’s a reason why they weren’t busy and then got busy. They weren’t busy because they don’t look like a food stand and there’s no clue as to what they serve. It looks like a t-shirt stand, but if I were to guess what type of food they sell, I’d say seafood. It’s a bad presentation, but sort of a hidden gem.

    I wanted to go to Crif Dogs, but they shutdown and left according to the organizers.

    I also recommend the french pastry stand next to Pies and Thies. They sell caneles and financiers. It’s a little pricy, but enjoyable.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.