Garden of Eden


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

I have reviewed a variety of places at this point, but never before have I reviewed a marketplace. Garden of Eden has five locations, four in New York City and one in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. This review focuses specifically on the 23rd Street location in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, though I have also frequented the Union Square location on 14th Street.

Garden of Eden isn’t a big space, but it is certainly an efficient one. The store offers fresh produce, meat, and fish, as well as a wide variety of other grocery items, frozen food, and kitchen supplies.

I usually stop in to Garden of Eden for lunch when I have no idea what I’m in the mood for because the market offers so many options. On a typical day, the hot bar contains meatballs, at least one kind of chicken, fried or baked fish, at least one type of meat in addition to the meatballs, pasta, macaroni and cheese, steamed vegetables, and mashed potatoes. Almost always, the food looks so delicious that I take far more than I can eat (and then I eat it all because it tastes as good as it looks).

If I’m not in the mood to eat my weight in fried chicken wings and meatballs, I’ll take a gander at the salad bar (at least two types of salad, yogurt, fresh fruit, tzatziki sauce, fresh vegetables, cottage cheese, and hummus) or the prepared sandwiches and sushi (the sushi is actually the absolute best and freshest I have had from the market because Garden of Eden uses sashimi-grade fish and makes the sushi every morning).

If I am still at a loss and can’t make a decision, I’ll turn around and go to the deli. Though, it’s not likely that I’ll have an easier time making a choice here. The deli at Garden of Eden carries approximately 50 different kinds of meat on any given day and the sandwich menu is certainly one to marvel at. In fact, the deli at Garden of Eden is what first drew me to the marketplace over five years ago during my first internship in Union Square. The sandwiches are out of this world and many are actually cheaper than comparable sandwich shops in the neighborhood.

As if I haven’t already made enough decisions by the time I’ve got a freshly prepared sandwich in my hand, I head over to the individual drinks section where I am practically paralyzed by the number of interesting choices. The refrigerator contains what seems like a hundred different kinds of tea (not really, but still a staggering amount), juice, a wide variety of sodas, club soda, bottled water, kombucha, and bottled coffee. Seriously, if you are indecisive do not shop here.

If you are decisive, however, I would absolutely suggest this place. The staff members are friendly and the store is always squeaky clean. I consider Chelsea a great place to be around lunchtime because there are so many options for both long lunches and quick stops, but ever since I started frequenting Garden of Eden, I haven’t spent too much time elsewhere.