Lunch in the Flatiron District just got a lot more exciting. For the next month, at least. On May 2nd, Urban Space’s Mad. Sq. Eats began its annual spring residency with longtime favorites as well as several new vendors. From now until May 31st, guests can sample classic and inventive creations from 30 unique vendors. Open from 11am to 9pm daily, this outdoor food market is ideal for a quick bite, casual lunch or outdoor happy hour and dinner. Crowds can be expected, especially during the weekday lunch rush and on weekends, but the exceptional dining options are well worth the wait.
In addition to fan favorites Roberta’s, The Cannibal and Red Hook Lobster Pound, new vendors this spring include 100 Sardines by George Mendes, Brooklyn Oyster Party, Pig & Khao, Takumi Taco, Kicky’s Kitchen, L&W Oyster Co. and Two Tablespoons. With an array of unique dishes, these newcomers complement each other well and offer something for all tastes.
Run by star chef George Mendes (Aldea), who can be found manning the grill on any given day, 100 Sardines offers a selection of creative toasts and Spanish-inflected dishes. Light and flavorful, the sardine toast ($8) is a perfect introduction to Mendes’ cuisine. Small squares of toast make a great vehicle for a sardine spread that is topped with a homemade sauce and garnished with a refreshing touch of cilantro.
Pig and Khao offers a taste of the “kick-ass Filipino food” that Leah Cohen serves at her restaurant on the Lower East Side. A carefully curated menu here includes standouts such as papaya noodles with grilled shrimp, crisp sweet and spicy chicken wings and fresh cracked coconuts – perfect for warm spring weather.
With Calexico and Mexicue on board, there is no shortage of taco options at Mad. Sq. Eats. This spring, newcomer Takumi Taco brings an Asian flair to the taco game with a menu that include pulled short rib and refreshing spicy tuna tacos.
Though many of this spring’s vendors are meat and seafood-focused, vegetarians are not left out. At Two Tablespoons, diners can choose from a selection of organic and gluten free salads and summer rolls. Among the best sellers are a glass noodle salad with kale, lentils and masala dressing and glass noodle salad with cabbage, apple and ginger dressing. Light and refreshing, these dishes are light, clean and nourishing: ideal for spring.
With vendors such as Macaron Parlor and Melt Bakery in tow, Mad. Sq. Eats can cater to any sweet tooth. This spring, that dessert seen gets even more crowded with the addition of Kicky’s Kitchen, a bakery that specializes in boozy “caketails.” With offerings such as the Bellini – peach cake with Champagne buttercream – and Tequila Sunrise – orange cake with tequila cherry buttercream, Kicky’s cupcakes are a great way to satisfy multiple cravings.
Despite the crowds, a trip to Mad. Sq. Eats is one of the very best ways to celebrate the end of finals and the arrival of spring. For those looking to avoid lines, the best times to visit are in the morning or in the late afternoon (between 3pm and 5pm). Additionally, creative cocktails and happy hour specials at several vendors make the market a wise choice for a snack and drink after work or before a night out.
Location: General Worth Square (bet 24th and 25th)
Hours of Operation: Daily 11am to 9pm