The seasonal eating in New York City fad started for a reason: it offers many benefits. It helps the local economy. It saves on money and fuel because food doesn’t need to be shipped, which helps your wallet and the environment. Also, you end up eating produce when it offers the most nutrition to your body, since it’s not picked before it ripens in preparation for its travel time or sitting past its peak, losing nutrition by the minute. Finally, you might find it fun to scour the menus for new dishes each season and to discover fresh flavors as chefs look for interesting ways to use obscure ingredients.

To create seasonal dishes, you go to local farmers markets, fishing boats and farms to see what they have to offer. You then create meals based on the ingredients that you find. Choose whether to see this process as limiting or as a creative challenge.

Where to Find a Seasonal Meal in New York City

Entire restaurants devote themselves to Seasonal Eating in New York City. Some options for you to try include:

  • Charlie Bird (Soho) specializes in Italian
  • ABC Cocina (Flatiron District) has a Latin flair
  • Seasonal Restaurant (currently relocating with catering options available) provides Austrian fare
  • Park Avenue Winter (Flatiron District), which changes its name to reflect the current season, serves New American eats
  • Aquavit (Midtown) offers Nordic meals
  • Dig Inn Seasonal Market (numerous locations) focuses on making healthy, balanced meals exciting

Is Seasonal Eating in New York City Your Thing?

Not everyone is a fan of seasonal eating — at least not enough of a fan to only choose locally harvested ingredients and seasonally focused restaurants. We mentioned some positives of seasonal eating in the intro, but this eating principle definitely has some downsides.

In The New Yorker, Amelia Lester expresses the opinion that having a strong commitment to seasonal ingredients can sometimes lead to forced meals that don’t really work or that don’t compare to the original version. For instance, if you take a dish like salsa, which is traditionally made with tomatoes, and completely replace the tomatoes with cooked apples or pumpkin, most people wouldn’t be satisfied with the result. It’s a stretch to even use the word “salsa” in that instance, instead of creating a new name for a new dish.

Another con to this trend is that seasonal eating only offers so many options. When you eat out at diverse seasonal restaurants, you end up seeing the same ingredients over and over, explains Katherine Wheelock in Food & Wine. If you’re really dedicated to the lifestyle, you then go home and cook with those same ingredients from the local farmers market. The lack of diversity can get old quickly, plus you can miss out on key nutrients in your diet if you limit your ingredients so much.

Seasonal eating  in New York City can also force you into flavors you’re not really fond of when a season has limited options, which is easy to happen during a northeast winter. According to Grow NYC’s list of seasonal produce, nothing is available straight from the plant from January through March, but is only available from storage, whereas July, August, September and October offer a million options. Therefore, seasonal eating could be easier and more enjoyable in the summer. Another argument against seasonal eating is that flash frozen food offers peak nutrition any time of year.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to choose seasonal fare or expand your horizons and choose ingredients shipped to you from all over the country and the world. This may be one of those occasions where moderation is the key, mixing up your meals between seasonal fare and unseasonably delicious variations. Let us know what you think of seasonal cooking and restaurants in the comments.

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About The Author

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Chief Eating Officer
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I see food - Everywhere. I eat, sleep, and drink up NYC as much as possible. It isn't always about what you see but how you see it - A brain that has seen the inside of the corporate world, the back rooms of the legal world, but prefers the comfort of a walk in cooler - Not everyone can appreciate the smell of a supermarket freezer.