A tongue-in-cheek reference to the Scandinavian Smörgåsbord, an extensive buffet that features a variety of hot and cold dishes, Smorgasburg more than lives up to its name. Brooklyn’s mammoth, all-food flea market features up to 100 independent vendors, specializing in everything from Deep-Fried Anchovies and Filipino Spring Rolls, to dairy-free Ice Cream and artisanal Pigs in a Blanket.
Due to its tremendous popularity, a stand at Smorgasburg has proved to be incredibly lucrative for vendors — bolstering online sales, garnering wholesale deals, and even paving the way for a few brick-and-mortar eateries (People’s Pops and Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue to name a few). That means founders Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby have become super selective as to who they let in. Don’t believe us? The over-the-top ice cream sandwich truck, COOLHAUS, has been rejected every year! And for the third season, which kicked off last Saturday on the Williamsburg waterfront, and Sunday at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, only 30 out of 350 new applicants were invited into the exclusive club. With competition so fierce, it’s more important than ever for upstart artisans to bring their A game. And, from what we tasted at Smorgasburg last Saturday, these elite new vendors are already rising to the head of the class.
The Best New Vendors at Smorgasburg
El Gato Nacho
There are plenty of places to indulge a craving for Mexican food at Smorgasburg, from the authentic Sopes and Huaraches at Country Boys to the not-so-standard Shrimp Tempura-filled tortillas at Takumi Tacos. But check out newbie, El Gato Nacho, which attempts to elevate the drunk-food staple to new levels. No canned jalapenos or electric orange cheese whiz here — owners Christopher Davin and Jill Meerpohl (chefs at Egg and Saltie respectively), make their chips with tortillas from Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos in Bushwick, source Papalo and Chiles from Mexican groceries, and experiment with interesting toppings like Guanciale and Head Cheese. Enough said.
We’re absolutely crazy for cornbread, but too often it’s dusty, dry, crumbly and flavorless. Thank goodness for Jack’s Chedbred. These super-moist squares are made with tons of Vermont Cheddar Cheese, a handful of Oven-Roasted Corn, and just enough cornmeal to hold everything together. And that’s just for starters. Chedbred also comes in Spitfire Roasted Jalapeno and Maple Bacon versions, which can all be sampled at Smorgasburg alongside bowls of Brisket Chili, from the New York Cookery. And don’t forget to try the Raspberry Swirl for dessert, made with Raspberry Preserves and creamy Ricotta Cheese.
A recipe developer for the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, Treva Chadwell has become famous for her textbook Buttermilk Biscuits. A genius addition to Smorgasburg, you’ll find them here topped with Butter and Vanilla Plum Jam, or piled high with goodies like Fried Chicken, or Virginia Ham and Brie. Unusual condiments like Pickled Squash and “Jezebel” Sauce, a blend of apples, horseradish, red pepper flakes, and mustard, take these gut-busting Southern sandwiches over the top.
We haven’t a clue how to make couscous from scratch, so we’re more than happy to leave it to the experts. Chef Ron Arazi, and his food stylist wife, Leezal, hand roll semolina flour to make this nutty, Moroccan grain. You can order it topped with savory Tunisian Pumpkin Stew and fiery Harissa at Smorgasburg, followed by a diamond shaped slice of almond-topped Semolina Cake — only available at Smorgasburg.
East River Bread
We’ve been known to stand on line at Roberta’s in Bushwick for hours, not for pizza, but for loaves of Melissa Weller’s wood-fired City White Bread. And now, we’re happy to brave the crowds at Smorgasburg, for a shot at the Brooklyn baker’s brand new stand, East River Bread. Weller isn’t selling City White (yet), but her old-fashioned, slow-fermented Sourdough Bagels are just as crave-worthy, served with a schmear of hand-churned butter or homemade cream cheese.
This Hell’s Kitchen dessert bar is known for their unconventional use of tofu… think Yuzu Citrus Cheesecake, Soft Serve Ice Cream Sundaes, and Matcha Green Tea Cream Puffs. Although the Mini Tofu Cupcakes and Chocolate Chunk Cookies they debuted at Smorgasburg were perfectly tasty, we’re more excited to try their freshly prepared, savory Bean Curd, topped with Soy Sesame Sauce, Kuromitsu (similar to molasses), or Tomato Olive Oil.
Although we’re generally drawn to Cemitas (those 10-layer Mexican sandwiches), pie, and pretty much anything deep-fried at Smorg, this new Indian stand is a boon for the somewhat health conscious. Inspired by her native Kerala, Anna Roy specializes in Daal, a traditional stew of dried lentils, peas or beans. Try the Coconut Daal — soaked lentils cooked with roasted spices and coconut — over cardamom-infused Red Matta Rice, with a side of Coriander Coconut Chutney.
Most people flock to the Brooklyn bars Union Hall and Floyd NY for their bocce courts. We go for the Beer Cheese, either served with Ritz Crackers, or slathered over a Burger with Bourbon Caramelized Onions and Fig Compote. And now, thanks to this new Smorgasburg stand, we can laze around in our jammies at home, scooping the stuff out of a tub with our fingers. Floyd’s traditional Kentucky dip is made with sharp cheddar cheese and a touch of beer, and comes in three delectable flavors; Pimento, Spicy Jalapeno, and Smoky Bacon. Pick up your favorite to-go!