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My Sick Fascination With Hudson Yards

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

A shot of the mall at Hudson Yards, which has bright lights, multiple floors, balconies, and people walking throughout Alex Staniloff

This post originally appeared on March 16, 2019, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

Hudson Yards, the most expensive private development project in American history, debuted in New York on March 15 to much fanfare, wild crowds, and monster lines for everything from Kith ice cream to José Andrés-endorsed churros. I highly recommend you read Michael Kimmelman’s take in the New York Times (“It is, at heart, a supersized suburban-style office park, with a shopping mall and a quasi-gated condo community targeted at the 0.1 percent”) or Justin Davidson’s in New York Mag (“I suppose this apotheosis of blank-slate affluence is someone’s fantasy of the 21st-century city, but it isn’t mine”).

My favorite take on the dining situation within the development — mostly enveloped in the Shops at Hudson Yards mall — comes from, of course, Ryan Sutton, this past fall. He called out the complex for the dearth of female operators among its dozens of concepts, the lack of indie establishments, the predictability and sameness of the brands here (Thomas Keller, Dave Chang, Michael Lomanaco, and Costas Spiliadis all have restaurants within walking distance of Hudson Yards), the general elitism of the development.

When you are building a neighborhood out of whole cloth, you miss the wonderful, organic, messy patchwork that is a typical urban neighborhood. When you prioritize access to capital over originality of concept, you end up with a could-be-anywhere blandness akin to a Vegas casino. And when most concepts live in a multi-story mall, you turn your back on the street life, foot traffic, and interactions with the city that makes living here so compelling in the first place.

And while I know that it’s technically boom times around here and we just celebrated the 10th anniversary of this bull market, I wonder if a mall with so many expensive restaurants abutting shops from Dior, Neiman Marcus, and Cartier will feel five years from now. (I suppose, there’s always Shake Shack?)

STILL I love reading all the coverage of what it means for architecture, urban development, the economy, and the worlds of food, retail, and public art. And of course now I’ll never unsee the $200 million Giant Shawarma that stands at the middle of it all.

I don’t have time to daydream since I’m writing this at 10 p.m. Friday night, but I’d love to hear what operators YOU would put into a development like this (

Further reading:

  • Inside Belcampo, Anya Fernald’s sustainable meat-centric counter service spot.
  • Inside Dave Chang’s Kāwi, a fine dining spot from chef Eunjo Park.
  • Inside Peach Mart, Dave Chang’s ode to Asian convenience stores.
  • Inside Mercado Little Spain, José Andrés’ behemoth Spanish food hall.
  • Inside Wild Ink, a pan-Asian restaurant from an international restaurant group, with Tien Ho at the helm.
  • Hudson Yards opening day LIVEBLOG.
  • How Hudson Yards chose its 25 restaurants.

P.S.: A heads up from Thomas Keller: “We’re calling it fun dining, not fine dining.”

Opening of the Week: Auburn

Interior with wood panels and accents, tables and chairs at Auburn restaurant in Los Angeles. Wonho Frank Lee

Why care? The chef Eric Bost is putting out a precious-looking fine dining menu in a town not known for loving tasting menus. Also I can’t tell if this room is serene and soothing or Crate and Barrel boring.

On Eater

Sadelle’s Ken Fulk

This Week on the Podcast

This week on the podcast, Daniel and I speak with chef Brooks Headley about making it work at New York’s tiny but mighty vegetarian restaurant Superiority Burger.

Off Eater