NYC is undoubtedly one of the finest dining cities in the world, but that’s in no way limited to traditional, sit-down restaurants. Because we just so happen to have a long and proud tradition of incredible street food as well (starting with carts, moving to trucks, and expanding to involve stands at places like Smorgasburg!). In fact, it’s so impressive and expansive that we even have an awards ceremony — akin to the Oscars — for honoring the best of the best.
So that being said, here’s just an exceedingly small taste of some of the most noteworthy vendors out there, serving Indian dosas in Manhattan, all-American burgers in Brooklyn, and Chinese congee in Queens!
Snowday: This years’ Vendy Cup winner is so much more than a food truck, employing, educating and empowering young people, recently released from the prison system. That’s not to say the unique non-profit/for-profit venture puts turning out terrific food on the back burner. It’s quite the opposite, so expect maple syrup-themed treats that are unilaterally tasty, such as Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, beer battered Onion Rings, sweet and sticky Brussels Sprouts, and Braised Beef Sliders.
Taim Mobile: The on-the-go adjunct to Einat Admoney’s incredible Israeli sandwich spot, choose either Falafel or Hummus, piled into a pita or served on a platter with salad, cabbage, tahini, pickles and hot sauce, and paired with an assortment of smoothies, including Date-Lime-Banana, Pear-Mint-Lemon, and Strawberry-Rhubarb-Thai Basil.
Coolhaus: This fleet of trucks and carts take ice cream sandwiches extremely seriously, turning out ‘architecturally inspired’ sweets in a myriad of classic (but mostly outrageous) flavors. Create your own combo from an almost intimidatingly dense range of choices, including Fruity Pebbles, Hamantasch, Black & White, and Confetti Whoopie Pie Cookies, and Avocado Sea Salt, Brown Butter Candied Bacon, and Cuban Cigar Ice Cream.
Hard Times Sundaes: After losing his original restaurant, Luncheonette, to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, owner Andrew Zurica decided to open this food truck, serving smash-style Hamburgers and Hard Times Sundaes (i.e., Italian ices) in a drugstore parking lot, out in the farthest reaches of Mill Basin. The good word on his great eats spread so far and so fast, he was nominated for the Vendy’s highest honor this year, and demand has led him to move to a more convenient location in Brooklyn; the subway-adjacent Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
Solber Pupusas: One of NYC’s most seminal non-brick and mortar businesses — this husband-and-wife-owned truck was one of the original Red Hook vendors — is a Vendy Cup winner, and has a regular spot at both Smorgasburg and Marqueta, Harlem’s new al fresco market. And as the name would suggest, Solber is renowned for its Pupusas; thick, hand-patted masa tortillas, cooked on the griddle, stuffed with cheese, meat or tender zucchini flowers, and topped with sour cream, salsa and curtido; a pickled cabbage salad.
NY Dosas: A fixture at Washington Square Park (and yes, another Vendy Cup winner), this unassuming cart specializes in Dosas; lacy, oversized Indian crepes, wrapped around rice, lentils, mixed veggies and potatoes, and served with fruity chutney and cups of thick, turmeric-scented sambar.
Chinese Food Cart: The name says it all — this Elmhurst-based food cart serves exceedingly cheap and seriously tasty Chinese food. The most popular item is Fish Balls (either fried and served solo, or deposited atop noodles), but that’s only a small hint of what’s on offer; think Lo Mein and Chow Fun, caramel-colored Tea Eggs, and Congee, a savory rice porridge.
Excell’s Kingston Eatery: A regular at Smorgasburg’s many outposts, including Williamsburg, Coney Island, and most recently, Park Slope, Excell‘s flavorful Caribbean fare is best enjoyed while the sun still shines, so don’t miss your chance to try Jerk Chicken, Escovich Fish and Coconut Milk, sipped directly from the fruit with a colorful straw.