For the owners of New York’s myriad food trucks and Smorgasburg stands, there’s no greater honor than winning a Vendy Award. Launched in 2005 (and since expanded to Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago), the annual event celebrates street food luminaries throughout the city, in a daylong feast and ceremony on Governor’s Island. And while nominees compete in five different categories, including “Best Dessert,” “Best of Market,” “Best Drinks” and “Rookie of the Year,” only a handful of purveyors are in the running for the coveted Vendy Cup — think of it as a “Best Picture” win during the Academy Awards!
That’s why we’re spotlighting the five esteemed vendors going head-to-head for the gold — from Snowday, a maple syrup-focused truck with a mission to Hard Times Sundaes, which serves one of the very best smashed-style burgers in Brooklyn.
Snowday: Snowday isn’t just a food truck, but a social enterprise, designed around hiring, educating and empowering young people recently released from the prison system. But yeah, its culinary offerings are pretty killer, too, with a delectable maple syrup through-line — think Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts, Beer-Battered Maple Onion Rings and their signature Maple Grilled Cheese Sandwiches — each item conceived and executed by Snowday’s team of formerly incarcerated youth.
Guandong Cheong Fun: Based out of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, this cart specializes in the Cantonese noodle rolls known as Guandong Cheong Fun; translucent, slippery rice flour-based packets, filled with pork, beef, shrimp or vegetables, and served with a variety of sauces.
Souvlaki Lady: For over 25 years, Elpida Vasiliadis has been serving souvlaki in the Greek heart of Astoria; so you know her grilled sandwiches must be something truly special. Order pork, chicken or gyro (lamb) on a stick, in a salad or tucked into a pita, together with lettuce, tomatoes, and plenty of garlicky tzatziki.
Hard Times Sundaes: After losing his Mill Basin-based restaurant, Luncheonette, to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, Andrew Zurica rebounded in a big way with Hard Times Sundaes, which serves smashed-style burgers so eminently craveable, they’ve been wooing intrepid foodies out to one of the furthest flung corners of Brooklyn.
Biryani House: Although this Indian cart boasts an extensive menu of Biryani — fragrant basmati rice topped with meats, veggies, fish, shrimp and more — it would be a shame to sleep on the highly affordable Kati Rolls; flaky paratha wrapped around chunks of spiced chicken or lamb.
For more info, visit www.vendyawards.streetvendor.org