A Guide To The South Street Seaport Food Court
I, like most office workers in the Financial District, don’t really venture too far into the South Street Seaport area unless forced to for happy hour or out of town guests. The dining options are overpriced and mostly grim, targeted toward the tourists that are the bread and butter of the place. One day I wandered into the indoor “mall” of the Seaport, and discovered what may be the weirdest food court in Manhattan. Sure, there are a couple of chain restaurants (Subway, Nathan’s, Edy’s ice cream), but other than that it’s a collection of independent vendors heavy on the Americanized Asian food. See what your bourbon chicken options are after the jump.
The food court is on the top floor of the mall, and on your way up you will see an all-year Christmas store, and one selling Crocs (you really need to see the store selection for yourself).
The first visible food vendor is Japan Sushi Q selling sushi, smoothies, bubble tea and udon soup. To its right is a place selling crepes, if you’re into that sort of thing. They had both sweet and savory options.
The Tabasco Grill is next up, and while it looked promising, I soon realized that it was mostly Americanized Mexican food like tacos and burritos (more on that later). I am intrigued by the Tabasco items like fish and shrimp.
Then you have the Charcoal Grill, where you can get pasta and gyro or watch a Philly cheese steak being made right before your eyes! I scoff, but some of the tourists seemed intrigued by this chopped meat show. That same place also has a margarita bar, if you would like some booze with your grilled meats.
Little Tokyo has some Japanese fare like teriyaki, tempura and sushi, but nothing too exciting.
Across from that you’ll find Simply Seafood,which is one of the gems of the food court, in my opinion. They sell both raw and fried seafood and nearly everything less than $10. A fried fish sandwich can be yours for less than $4, but I was most excited about the clams and squid. If you’re mourning the loss of the Fulton St. location of Terrace Fish & Chip, this may be the place to go.
There are dueling bourbon chicken sellers here called Cajun Cafe (which is about as bayou as Cajun Maggie’s) and China Max, and one thing you must be warned about is that almost all the vendors are cut throat when it comes to gaining your business through samples. I don’t know how many times I had people shouting at me to try little pieces of things on toothpicks. I guess if you’re a major cheapskate and not that hungry you could just nibble your way through the samples without actually buying anything.
I ended up getting my lunch from China Max, suckered in by the udon soup on a day where my stomach was not feeling A-OK. I got a giant bowl of soup with fish balls for $7, which I know is expensive but I just couldn’t do the bourbon chicken. The fish balls and noodles were good and plentiful but the broth was flavorless.
My co-luncher got a taco special from the Tabasco Grill that was quite… interesting. The $5 plate included a hardshell beef taco and a soft shell chicken taco with way too much filling to be eaten normally. There were also some chips and a little cup of salsa. The price was right, but you have to really enjoy trashy Americanized Mexican food to enjoy this, I guess.
There are two other non-chain places in the food court. One is a pizza place called Anna Maria’s Pizza, but it’s obviously geared toward people who don’t know that paying upwards up $3 for a regular slice is highway robbery.
The other is Shake ‘n’ Burger, which was actually pretty fairly priced. You can get a hamburger with french fries and soda for $6.95 or with a shake or root beer float for $8.95.
I’m not quite sure why places like Sbarro escaped the clutches of this food court, but if you’re looking for a lot of random kinds of food in one spot, this is definitely the place. I guess the tourists weren’t in the mood for some steam table Chinese because the longest line seemed to be for Nathan’s.
South Street Seaport food court, Pier 17 at South St., third floor