Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City
I’ve been going to the Smorgasburg in Brooklyn for years now and each time it’s more and more maddening. The crowds are frustrating, the prices are too high, and much of the food is not as good as it used to be. Smorgasburg in Queens is a whole different world.
The food market expanded to the county of Queens for the first time this summer and I finally made it out a week or so before the final market for the season. It was a breath of fresh air. There was so much space and I could easily walk around, checking out the food vendors without knocking into anybody.
Plus the food (curated by fellow food blogger Joe DiStefano) is all homegrown, which means aside from the ramen burger and some smoky barbecue, it’s all unique and hyperlocal. There is a Filipino stall, a Trinidadian one selling shark sandwiches, and plenty of offbeat desserts (a giant s’mores pie anyone?)
I was most intrigued by a dish from Son Foods, a local family run business, serving empanadas and hallacas. The latter is something I had never heard of, but soon discovered it’s like a South American tamale.
But that’s not even doing this thing justice. A cornmeal patty is steamed in a plantain leaf. It’s stuffed with the typical chicken, peppers and hot sauce, but also with the surprising additions of capers, olives, and raisins. Those unique ingredients provided a salty/sweet balance to the savory/spicy characteristics. These traditional Venezuelan and Ecuadorian snacks were a big surprise and the most memorable thing I’ve tasted at any Smorgasburg in a long time.
Smorgasburg Queens ends for the season this Saturday (October 10), so get on out there (it’s the first third stop on the 7 train) to see how peaceful and focused Smorgasburg can be.
43-29 Crescent Street (between 44th Road and 43rd Avenue),
Long Island City, Queens