A taste of the Vendy Awards finalists
On Saturday, 1,200 hungry New Yorkers will convene on Governors Island to sample the goods of the five street-food vendors vying for this year’s Vendy Awards crown. Organized annually by the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, the gig always sells out.
So how do the finalists stack up? Joe Dobias, chef/owner of JoeDoe Restaurant in the East Village, and Eater operative Greg Morabito joined amNewYork on a tasting tour.
The order: pernil patacones sandwich, “mixto” ($5.50); queso cachapas ($6)
The consensus: The green plantain sandwich — stuffed with roasted pork, fried cheese, lettuce, tomato and house sauce — makes for messy street food, but in a good way. (A fork is helpful.) The cachapas — a giant corn cake filled with Latin queso and topped with sour cream — hit the perfect balance between sweet and savory. “Get me a cup of coffee and I could have that for breakfast,” Dobias said.
Finding the truck: 202nd Street btwn Ninth and 10th aves. (There’s also a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 85-22 Grand Ave., Elmhurst, Queens, 718-899-8922.)
Hours: 7 p.m.-6 a.m.
2. Schnitzel & Things
The order: chicken schnitzel platter ($10)
The consensus: Given the queue (and win for “Rookie of the Year” at last year’s Vendys), the truck’s popularity is evident. But we weren’t totally convinced. Compared to the other nominees, the food seemed ... well, pricey. And heavy. “Put this in a restaurant that sells only one item and it wouldn’t sell,” Dobias said.
Finding the truck: The schedule of locations is posted on schnitzelandthings.com. Check Twitter (@schnitzeltruck) for updates.
3. King of Falafel and Shawarma
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
The order: side of falafel ($1.25) and shawarma plate ($7)
The consensus: Vendor Fares “Freddy” Zeidaies is a charmer who takes his kingship seriously; his falafel is damn good. The oblong shapes are at once crispy, nutty and moist. “These would be great canapes at a party,” Morabito said.
Finding the cart: 30th Street and Broadway, Astoria, Queens. For more info, visit thekingfalafel.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
4. Bistro Truck
Cuisine: French Moroccan
The order: chicken brochette sandwich ($5); Marrakech lamb entree ($7)
The consensus: The sandwich is more snack than meal; we’d rather spend a few dollars more for more stuff inside. Though the meat was nice, overall the entree was underwhelming. “Even if you season [the lamb] amazingly, if you don’t know how to salt, it’s lost,” Dobias said.
Finding the truck: Fifth Avenue between 16th and 17th sts.; check their Twitter feed (@bistrotruck) for updates.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
5. El Rey del Sabor
The order: Trio of tacos: salted beef, carnitas and al pastor ($2.50 ea.)
The consensus: We collectively swooned over our tacos, which had an authenticity that sparked stories about trips to Mexico and buckets of beer. “If I worked around here I would definitely eat here,” Morabito said. “After even just one taco, I know they know how to cook,” Dobias said.
Finding the cart: 49th Street and Park Avenue (additional locations: 60th Street and Third Avenue, 43rd Street and Sixth Avenue)
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.