Chelsea: Where art and eats meet

If you’re planning to spend a day gallery hopping in Chelsea, you won’t go hungry.

There’s plenty to see between 20th and 25th streets, from Eighth to 11th avenues. But with galleries, great shopping and all that walking, it’s easy to work up an appetite.

These restaurants will tantalize your taste buds while you rest your feet.

The Red Cat
227 10th Ave., btwn 23 and 24th sts., 212-242-1122
The Red Cat serves New American cuisine in a comfortable atmosphere. “It’s not the most famous place, but it has a distinct verve and soul that other places don’t,” said chef-owner Jimmy Bradley. The menu is focused on local ingredients and seasonal foods. “We change our menu six or eight times a year,” Bradley said. One standout is the tempura bacon appetizer, served on a bed of grilled corn salsa.

Empire Diner
210 10th Ave., at 22nd st., 212-243-2736
Located inside a real dining car designed in 1946, the Empire Diner is a city staple. While it has an extremely large menu, co-owners Mitchell Woo and Renate Gonzalez recommend the burgers. “We have burgers of all kinds and all with different tastes. We sold 75 burgers yesterday alone,” Woo said last Friday. Things are going so well that the owners are looking to add another location.

Cookshop
156 10th Ave., btwn 19 and 20th sts., 212-924-4440
The owners of Cookshop, Vicki and Marc Freeman, came to the restaurant business in different ways. Vicki’s mother owned a restaurant and Marc discovered his passion while driving a fruit truck. The menu at Cookshop focuses on sustainable ingredients and local produce. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, each meal showcases unique American cuisine. Chef de cuisine Joel Hough is starting to create heartier winter items and just added his version of a Caesar Salad on the menu. “It’s one of the best we have ever had. We could eat it everyday,” the Freemans said.

F&B Gudtfood
269 W. 23rd st., btwn 7th and 8th Aves., 646-486-4441
The brainchild of two European ex-pats, F&B Gudtfood specializes in European street foods. “Our signature dishes are the gourmet hot dogs from Germany and Poland,” said manager Daga Lyczko. The dogs come in beef, chicken, pork, veal and veggie varieties and are served with all sorts of toppings. “Another best selling item is the lobster and shrimp roll,” Lyczko said. Pair any of your choices with their European Boylan sodas or homemade lemonade.

Rocking Horse Café
182 Eighth Ave., btwn 19 and 20th sts., 212-463-9511
Forget Tex-Mex. Rocking Horse Café serves authentic Mexican fare. “The food that we provide is like what you could find in a fine dining room in Mexico City,” said manager Steven Epstein. Some of the best-selling items include a special burrito stuffed with watercress, avocado and pickled onions and the Enchiladas de Pollo, made with pomegranate-charred chicken. To complement your plate, enjoy a signature margarita. “We use 100 percent agave tequila and we have fresh fruit purees for flavor,” Epstein said.

La Grainne Café
183 Ninth Ave., at 21 st., 646-486-3000
Here, the atmosphere is like a quiet Parisian bistro. “It’s all about the ambiance here,” said owner Grainne O’Flynn, “We have a very French feel.” Some of the most popular items on the menu include crepes, risottos and the croque monsieur, a fried ham and cheese sandwich. O’Flynn is from Ireland, but visits France often. “I love French food and French wine, so, so much,” O’Flynn said.
 

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