Long Lines And My Three-Course $10 Lunch At The First Vendy-Organized Pushcart Market
When I woke up on Friday it looked like it would be a beautiful day for the first ever vendor-organized pushcart market downtown. People from the Street Vendor Project told me the day before that they had no idea what carts would show up or even how many.It was a pilot project, and if successful enough they hope to do it once again, Marisa Jahn from the SVP said before the event. A subcommittee made up of vendors chose the food carts that would be at the market.
By the time I headed over to Park Place (btw. Broadway & Church) shortly after noon in my stretch pants (really) and with an empty stomach the weather was cool and looked rainy. The Biriyani Cart from midtown and a Jamaican cart from the Bronx were supposed to be there, but I saw no sign of them. There were about 10 other food vendors there, including a transplant from the Red Hook Ballfield vendors in Brooklyn, a new Taiwanese cart, and a lady selling pastelillos or what you could call Puerto Rican empanadas. Also on hand was a truck called the Cinnamon Snail selling vegan and organic food, some people selling fruit, two or three halal vendors and a guy selling a fried rice with ribs and a chicken wing for $7. That one seemed popular with construction workers.
So, what did my $10 buy me at this vendor mash up? Plenty of food porn after the jump.
When I got there, the crowds weren’t too bad but that would soon change.
I wandered all the way to the end and found a tiny woman selling pastelillos with jalapeno sauce (above) and some drinks from a small cart. Of course I had to get one.
Unfortunately, due to my lack of Spanish and poor pantomime skills and her lack of English, I ended up with two cheese ones instead of one beef one. My bad! Anyway, they were like small hot pockets filled with white cheese, and in one case, cabbage (I think). I took a few bites and moved on to conserve stomach space.
That was my appetizer, and for my “main course” I wanted either the pupusas from the Red Hook vendor or the Taiwanese dumplings and soup from A-Pou’s Taste cart that recently popped up in the East Village. Both had long lines, but I decided to diversify and go for the Taiwanese dumplings.
It turned out to have probably the slowest line ever, but as the lady in front of me said, it was because they were cooking the dumplings from scratch instead of having them frozen and pre-cooked. It was worth the long wait (despite the fact that they announced 30 minutes in that they were out of pork dumplings).
The beef/kimchi ones (on the left above) were awesome, with the chicken ones less so because they didn’t have as much of a crust from the grill on them. I’m pretty sure my co-workers hated me for stinking up the office. Anyway, it totally blew away anything from the Rickshaw Dumpling truck. If this cart moved to the Financial District (hint, hint) I would definitely be a frequent customer if I were too lazy to make it up to Chinatown.
I wanted a dessert to make this a true three-course street vendor lunch. My options were pretty limited to fruit (not dessert), ice cream from Guerrilla Gourmet (it was freaking chilly out, so no), or the Cinnamon Snail truck.
Despite the fact that everything they served was vegan and organic, they had doughnuts and cinnamon rolls and were therefore the winner.
Now, I have no idea how you make a doughnut vegan and organic, but this thing was amazing. I guess fried dough is vegan, and when you throw some icing and cookie crumbs on top, it’s hard to mess things up. Sadly this truck spends its time in both New Jersey and the city/Brooklyn so I likely won’t get to see what a vegan and organic cinnamon roll tastes like.
While I was waiting in line for the dumplings, there was thankfully music being played by Floyd Lee and his band. This guy sure had the blues, but I bet it was because he was singing instead of eating delicious food.
Amazingly, I managed to keep my three-course lunch to $10: cheese pastelillo ($2), order of 10 Taiwanese dumplings ($6), and a vegan organic chocolate cookie topped doughnut ($2).
I hope this thing happens again, with more food vendors so the ones that are there aren’t completely swamped and the lines aren’t insane. I liked that I could try food from vendors that you can’t find downtown, or even in Manhattan. Mostly I liked that the vendors got to show their stuff to people who would otherwise be headed to Subway for a $5 foot long