Essential Street Snacks
New York boasts some of the best restaurants in the world, but did you know that some of these award-winning culinary experiences also include a few street-side vendors?
Eating from an authentic street cart is a universally gratifying experience. Standing in line awaiting your turn to satisfy off-the-cuff cravings, you’ll see patrons hailing from all walks of life – a sidewalk sampling of New York’s wildly diverse population. Everyone has a favorite dish and will wax poetic about why this cart or that cart is the best in City.
At the turn of the 20th century, street carts offered immigrants to New York a viable way to make a living in their new country. As ethnic populations rose so did the diversity of offered cuisines – Greek souvlaki was popular in the 70s and 80s before halal carts took over as the predominant lunch choice in the 90s.
Nowadays, restaurateurs and epicureans alike go head-to-head in the streets of New York to offer flocking foodies gourmet snacks far from the usual fare. Dishes as lavish as duck confit on maple vanilla waffles to handheld sweet treats like cones of Swiss chocolate-covered organic strawberries are but a small blip on the flavor menu.
Getting hungry? Here are my top must-visit street vendors in the Big Apple:
On special assignment from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Belgium, Wafels & Dinges was an instant crowd-pleaser when it hits the streets of New York City in April 2007. Since then, the fleet has expanded (and even opened a proper restaurant) offering savory, classic Belgian waffles with premium toppings like dulce de leche, Belgian chocolate fudge, and spekuloos spread.
Ranked as one of the top food trucks in America and a four-time Vendy Award winner. The Cinnamon Snail from chef Adam Sobel is a very, very (very) delicious vegan spot offering masterful culinary creations like Fresh Fig Pancakes for breakfast, BBQ Seitan Ribs for lunch, and, of course, their now-famous rotating menu of homemade donuts boasting flavors like Thai Basil Coconut and Vanilla-Bourbon Crème Brulée.
One of my personal favorite quick eats, Korilla BBQ fuses the best of Korean and Mexican cuisines for a “Ko-Mex” sensation that’s redefining Korean Barbecue (think: a burrito with bulgogi and bacon-kimchi fried rice). Korilla BBQ doesn’t just have fans, they have SUPERFANS… and after your first bite, you’ll quickly see why.
Pricier than some of the vendors on this list, Red Hook Lobster Pound offers lobster rolls (with a quarter pound of lobster meat each) that are simply put: sensational. The hand-picked lobster and other seafood are shipped from the coast of Maine and distributed daily to their food trucks, which now span to Montauk and Washington, D.C. Your taste buds will be buzzing with each bite!
New York City’s first farm-to-table food truck and three-time Vendy Award winner, Snowday offers maple-themed foods sourced locally like smoked riblets on a bed of maple chimichurri or maple-infused grilled cheeses. But unlike most mobile eateries, Snowday is a “vehicle for social justice.”