DeKalb Market Hall, Brooklyn’s largest food hall, is finally here.
Easily the most anticipated project on New York’s food scene in 2017, DeKalb opens June 16 in the cellar of the massive City Point shopping complex in Downtown Brooklyn, joining Target, Century 21, the dine-in Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and, soon, Trader Joe’s.
Anna Castellani, the curator who brought together the 42 restaurants that fill its sprawling 60,000 square feet, aimed to represent all of Brooklyn.
“It’s got a food scene that is respected around the world, but I didn’t feel that there was a place to come and experience what is happening in this borough,” she tells us. “I have people from Brownsville, Mill Basin, Bensonhurst, neighborhoods people will probably never go to, and I think that’s what makes it special.”
The notable exception is Katz's Delicatessen, which is opening its first storefront outside of Manhattan at DeKalb. Owner Jake Dell is in the midst of growing the iconic deli known for its towering pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, and “because we had mutual friends, there was a trust that his first venture out would be with somebody who would be supportive,” says Castellani.
Beyond that marquee name, other recognizable franchises include Fletcher’s BBQ, Colombian corn cakes from the beloved Arepa Lady, Eight Turn Crepe and two new concepts from Hard Times Sundaes.
The market isn’t just for established names. Castellani also sought out first-timers to the restaurant business, like the Pierogi Boys serving handmade Polish dumplings, BK Jani from Bushwick serving Pakistani grilled meats and vegan fare, and Caribbean food by Likkle More Jerk from a longtime West Indian chef finally opening his own restaurant.
With so much anticipation, a huge variety of vendors and a “complicated, unusual space,” Castellani wanted to keep the atmosphere more like a casual neighborhood block than a high-concept experience. “I was frustrated by what I felt were overdesigned food spaces,” she says. Five local artists were commissioned to create wall murals, while the vendors were free to design their booths in their own ways. “I feel very happy that it already feels comfortable and lived in, and that was really what we wanted.”
Two full-service restaurants, Han Dynasty and Fortina, will join the vendors soon, as well as a show kitchen and, in the fall, a massive event space (with its own bar) with plans for music, theater performances, children’s entertainment and late night programs, including a possible night market.
Castellani runs her own own upscale grocer Forager’s Market in DUMBO, and wanted to bring some of that market element into DeKalb with a cheese shop, snout-to-tail butcher, fishmonger and bakery.
“When you think about great markets in Europe, there’s always a grocery element to it,” she says. “This should smell like a food space. I think food’s become very antiseptically sold, and smell is part of the emotional element of being in a space like this.”
Speaking of emotion, Castellani can’t help but feel a little nostalgic. She began talks with City Point developers about how to bring food into the shopping complex a decade ago, and has spent the past three years making it a reality.
Even then, well before food halls were a trend (though Chelsea Market was already making waves), “we sat down and brainstormed and came up with basically this market, which is why this is so exciting,” she says. “I just thought, ‘I could do something big down here.’
“And I also think that’s why Katz’s came — he likes a little drama.”
DeKalb Market Hall is located at 445 Albee Square West., open Sun-Wed: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Thurs-Sat: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Select vendors open at 7 a.m.
Here's the full list of vendors:
Ample Hills Creamery — Brooklyn-based ice cream parlor serving handcrafted treats
Andrew's Classic Roadside Hamburgers by Hard Times Sundaes — Burgers, hot dogs and seasonal frozen treats
Andrew's Classic Brooklyn Bagels by Hard Times Sundaes — Bagels from Mill Basin Bagel Cafe, housemade spreads and salads
Arepa Lady — Authentic Colombian arepas and plates
BK Jani — Pakistani restaurant known for kebabs, lamb chops & vegan options
Bread & Spread — Hot Italian sandwiches
Brooklyn Juicer — Fresh-pressed juices and smoothies
Bunker Vietnamese — Homestyle Vietnamese street food, sandwiches and pho
Bunsmith — Korean-style steamed buns and rice bowls
Cafe D’Avignon — Breads and french pastries
Craft+Carry — Draft beer bar with eight rotating taps available in tasting flights and pints, as well as growlers and crowlers
Cuzin's Duzin — Original hot mini donuts
Daigo Hand Roll Bar — Sushi hand-rolls
Dulcinea Bakery — Spanish bakery featuring pastries and breads with an emphasis on creative churros
Eight Turn Crepe — Sweet & savory Japanese-style rice crêpes
Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue — Wood-fired barbecue joint
Forcella — Traditional Neapolitan pizza
Fulton Landing Seafood Company — Fresh and fried seafood and raw bar
Guss’ Pickles — Barrel-cured sour pickles and sauerkraut
Hana Noodles — Chinese pulled noodles and dumplings
Home Frite — Hand-cut fries served with gourmet sauces
Jianbing Company — Shanghai-style crepe, jianbing
Katz’s Delicatessen — Mile-high pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, hot dogs and latkes
Kotti Berliner Döner Kebab — German döner kebab
Likkle More Jerk — Modern, fast-casual take on traditional Caribbean flavors
Lioni Italian Heroes — Cheese- and meat-filled sandwiches with names like Alyssa Milano and Rocky Marciano
Nobletree Coffee — Brooklyn-based cafe
Pierogi Boys — Authentic Polish pierogies
POP Cake Shop — American-style cakes, cookies, pies and cake push pops
Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie — Handmade Key lime pies
Taco Dekalb Market — Creative tacos made with house-smoked meats
The Paella Shack — Authentic Spanish paellas and classic tapas
Two Tablespoons — Vegetarian pop-up restaurant
Wiki Wiki / Brooklyn Poke — Hawaiian raw fish bowls
Wilma Jean — Fried chicken and comfort food classics
Market-style food stations:
Belle Cheese — Artisanal cheeses
Fulton Landing Seafood Market — Fresh, sustainable seafood counter
Forager’s Butcher — Butcher
Forager’s Market — Locally sourced healthy fare
Forager’s Rotisserie — Roasted meats