The Best Eats and Treats at Smorgasburg
On Saturdays, Brooklyn’s East River State Park is not just the ideal picnic spot; it is also home to Smorgasburg, the largest outdoor food market in the United States. Thousands flock to Brooklyn to sample the latest food trends from one hundred vendors set up in canopy tents across a central area. While the East River State Park hosts the market on Saturdays, Prospect Park is where Smorgasburg is located on Sundays, allowing tourists to enjoy the savory experience all weekend long.
I traveled to Smorgasburg on a Saturday to taste items from various vendors and see if the market merits the hype. Make sure to bring sunscreen, because the sun blistered the whole market in the afternoon and made the long lines somewhat uncomfortable. Despite the heat, everyone seemed to enjoy the spicy aroma and occasional bouts of barbecue smoke that blew over the crowd.
I first had a taste of nostalgia in the form of a Nick’s Pick Ring Ding from the Ring Ding Bar. The small cakes were just as fudgy as the chocolate-coated, creme-filled treats from childhood, but the assortment of flavors provided an upgrade to the original Ring Ding. The raspberry jam lining the inside of the cake created the perfect tart bite, and the dense cake was also gluten free. Other flavors include Dulce de Leche, Cookies & Cream, and Nutella.
Vaquero serves street snacks including elotes, or roasted corn topped with cotija cheese, butter or mayonnaise, and spices. I purchased the mango, which was seasoned with chili pepper, lime, chamoy (a sweet and spicy sauce), and salt. Skewered on a stick, the ripe mango was cut into the shape of a flower and speckled with red, making it perfect for Instagram. The first few bites were sharp and spicy, but by the time the outside layer of the mango disappeared, it acquired a tropical sweetness. For only five dollars, the treat was worth the cost.
The last item I tried was the Nutella Vanilla ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch. In this creation, vanilla ice cream, nutella buttercream frosting, and a few hazelnuts were wedged in between two brownie cookies. The outside was crunchy yet soft, almost like Brownie Brittle, but the creamy vanilla inside offered a welcome contrast. The whole sandwich was reminiscent of a black-and-white cookie and perfect for those who love both chocolate and vanilla.
While there was not enough time to try the other foods, some vendors seemed particularly popular due to their trendy items. Big Mozz, a vendor serving mozzarella sticks, partnered with DO, the famous shop that sells cookie dough in scoops, to create small fried balls of cookie dough in signature flavors. Wowfulls provides egg waffles filled with ice cream and other toppings, all in a cone. This kiosk is notorious for its long line, so be patient and try not to drool while waiting. For dessert and a show, watch servers at Bona Bona Ice Cream scoop ice cream into cones, pipe meringue on top, and singe the meringue dome with a blowtorch. Takumi Taco, a hybrid of Japanese and Mexican fare, prepares nachos and tacos such as spicy tuna and Japanese curry beef. Goa Taco creates another twist on tacos by using a paratha, a flaky flatbread, as the shell. Fillings include pork belly, paneer (cottage cheese), and tofu banh mi. Additionally, vegans can find the perfect meal at Chickpea and Olive, which specializes in vegan burgers and sandwiches. Two items that stand out are the bacon cheddar ranch burger made with eggplant “bacon” and the chipotle cheddar mushroom melt sandwich.
Aside from the diverse and delicious dishes, the ambience of Smorgasburg is truly unique. People of all ages exchange reviews of food and share the delicacies with family and friends at the market. Visitors also have the opportunity to sit on the sandy shore or at picnic tables in the park to view the picturesque Manhattan skyline. Stop by at Smorgasburg on your next visit to Brooklyn to enjoy a communal eating experience and taste some of the best foods in New York.