Food trucks are an integral part of the New York foodie landscape but I’ve not visited one since the start of this blog. Today I more than made up for lost time with a crash course in the city’s best food trucks – at the annual Vendy Awards.
The Vendy Awards showcase around 25 of the best street vendors – voted for online by the public – from the five boroughs and New Jersey. At the day-long event, guests and a panel of judges taste the offerings and pick their favorites to win awards: the Vendy Cup, People’s Taste, Rookie of the Year, Market, Messy yet Tasty, Dessert and New Jersey.
Ryan and I headed to the venue – a gravely lot in Industry Park in Sunset Park, Brooklyn – armed with our cameras and appetites. The trucks were lined around the edges of the space, with tables, chairs, benches and voting booths filling the middle.
As well as the food trucks, there were tables serving free beer and a selection of non-alcoholic drinks. We fell in love with the delicious Bruce Cost Ginger Ale which is unfiltered so has teeny bits of ginger in it. So sweet and spicy and good.
Being vegetarians, there was not a great deal of choice for us among the savoury trucks. So when we spied the Cinnamon Snail – a vegan food truck – we were clicking our heels and reaching for the forks.
They served up an enormous platter of entrees – one taco filled with Korean BBQ Seitan, another with Thai BBQ Tempeh, and breaded lemongrass oyster mushrooms. It was followed by a separate platter with a raspberry-iced doughnut and a massive chocolate-filled, streudal-topped doughnut. While we went easy on the desserts, we wolfed down the tacos. The textures were amazing – the Tempeh was soft but smoked, chili-covered peanuts and crisp onions added some crunch. Oh dear god, I’m still thinking about it.
My top pick was Del’s NYC – perhaps the simplest of the trucks on show. A long-haired dude from Rhode Island passed paper cups of frozen lemonade – both lemon and watermelon – through the window. His truck was a green, retro bubble of a vehicle that I reckon was the best-looking of the day.
I was also won over with PopItBaby ice lollies. By this point, we’d met up with Meghan and Alex, so we could do a thorough taste test by each getting a different flavor. I maintain my watermelon and lime was the winner – it was so juicy and sweet – but the mojito one was the most interesting. I will be tracking these guys down again before summer’s out.
By this point, our brimming bellies meant we could barely walk around the place, but we soldiered on. We reached for cider-filled doughnuts from Carpe Donut, guava-flavored Ecuadorian mousse, sticky iced Vietnamese coffee and Brooklyn lagers.
While we couldn’t try everything, we did admire the non-veggie options, from breaded anchovies from Bon Chovie to Thai Street food from Khao Man Gai. And I marveled at the length of the line snaking across the lot to Luke’s Lobster, a truck handing out lobster rolls that unsurprisingly took the People’s Taste Award.
With sugar highs, we eventually tore ourselves away, cans of Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale in our hands. The day was fantastic and reminded me how New York just takes the simplest of ideas to the next level. I’ll be searching sidewalks for many of them again.
And the winners were: