If you ever happen to be in New York City on a Saturday or Sunday during the summer, you should definitely take the time to hop across the East River over to Brooklyn and indulge in the culinary delights of the hip borough’s weekly food market, Smorgasburg. Every weekend hoards of people flock to the Williamsburg waterfront and Pier 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park to sample an array of inspired, handmade bites from over 50 vendors covering almost every style of food you can imagine. And this isn’t your typical food market — Smorgasburg’s highly curated collection of merchants are pushing the limits on street food, putting their own unique twist on everything from tacos and hot dogs to Puerto Rican Mofongo and Vietnamese summer rolls.
Come hungry. You’re going to want to do some serious tent-hopping. And with most prices hanging well below $12 a dish — you can. Lines may be long (this is an understatement for the Williamsburg location), but they’re definitely worth the wait.
Warning: Smorgasburg will test your decision-making abilities.If you’re super indecisive like me, check out what everyone else is eating and go from there. I suggest making the rounds of the park to put together a plan of attack before diving in to your first dish to combat food envy. Or bring along a couple friends to maximize your tasting potential.
Keep in mind — most food stalls are cash only — so make sure to have plenty on hand.
Here are a few things I tried:
Best Summer – Super fresh Vietnemese spring rolls with unexpected flavors like smoked brisket. Out of this world. For $7 I got two rolls – the Hewsten roll (smoked brisket, red & napa cabbage, bbq mayo and fresh herbs) and the Rooster (chicken, sriracha, red & napa cabbage, cilantro and scallions). This has to be my favorite vendor by far. The rolls are stuffed with incredibly fresh ingredients and the flavors are perfectly balanced — plus that peanut sauce is amazing.
Asia Dog – Hot dogs are not typically my food of choice but one look at Asia Dog’s menu and I was sold. You won’t find a chili cheese dog here — Asia Dog gets its name from the Asian-infused toppings they use to dress up their dogs. Each topping incorporates flavors found in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and more, like the the “Ito” (Japanese curry and kimchi apples) and the “Sidney” (Thai style relish with mango, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, crushed peanuts and fish sauce). And there’s something for everyone. In additional to classic beef dogs, you can also choose from chicken, veggie or organic beef dogs. I tested out the “Vinh,”a banh mi style dog topped with carrot, cilantro, daikon, jalapeño and cucumber. And while I’d choose a classic banh mi over this ballpark version any day, I have to admit, it was pretty good. The ingredients were fresh and the spicy aioli and jalapeños gave the dog a nice kick. And at $5, it’s a pretty good deal. I’ll definitely be back.
Gather – For something a bit lighter, head over to Gather. Their kale salad is a must-try with almonds, cherries and a zingy citrus vinaigrette. Not feeling the leafy greens? They also offer up a variety of sandwiches, soups and sweets.
Dough - The people at Dough don’t mess around. These are the king of all doughnuts. They’ve got the perfect texture, managing to be light and airy without lacking substance, and are topped with mouthwatering glazes like dulce de leche with toasted almonds and mixed berry. The lemon poppy is my personal fave, but I wouldn’t say no to salted caramel, hibiscus or coconut cream. Yum!
Noodle Lane – I was intrigued by the dozens of people walking around with bowls of delicious-looking egg noodles piled high with fresh toppings like julienned cucumber, chopped scallions and chilies flakes. After a bit of searching, I finally found the source — Noodle Lane — and decided to give it a go. Dan Dan noodles is their most popular dish (egg noodles with a savory sauce and chili oil, sautéed minced pork, Sichuan preserved vegetable, bean sprouts and scallions), but I decided to go with the Spicy Peanut noodles instead. I immediately wished I had gone with the Dan Dan. The noodles themselves were really good (smooth and chewy) and the veggies were fresh, but the sauce was over powering. I was expecting a fair amount of heat (I ordered them hot) cut with a hint of sweetness from a light peanut sauce, but the sauce was more like a peanut butter sauce you use to top off a sundae. It over-powered the chili oil and really cut the heat — the noodles weren’t spicy at all. I would consider going back to try the Dan Dan, but I recommend avoiding the peanut noodles.
Takumi Taco – Takumi Taco takes Mexican-inspired street food and gives it a Japanese twist. Spicy tuna, miso chicken, short rib, tofu, crispy shrimp and Japanese curry beef are mixed with a variety of sauces, herbs and vegetables, finished off with black sesame seeds and radish and served in traditional corn tortillas or crispy gyoza shells. The spicy tuna is a must-try. The fish is incredibly fresh and the sauce (though there’s a lot of it) is flavorful, refreshing and the heat factor is on point. Fresh-squeezed lime juice adds the perfect amount of acidity to tie together all of the flavors and the gyoza shell offers just the right amount of crunch. Don’t leave Smorgasburg without giving Takumi Taco a try.