Street Food & Festivals, New York City
For a quick tasty street snack you can rest assured there is a yellow and blue umbrella just about on every corner certainly this is the truth around time square. Now in London I would recommend avoiding street vendor food at all costs but here in NYC its such a stable diet. Besides all vendors are monitered by the consumers protection board so thats good enough endorsement for me.
So do order your dirty water dog with everything on - its messy but its good. The works is frankfurter topped with sauerkraft, onions in a tomato relish & mustard don't ask for ketchup its simply not the done thing & you may only find the vendors in the touristy areas with ketchup (tomato sauce).
No photo to view as this dog was gone in a matter of moments & it was a definite messy affair!
There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of street vendors selling a huge variety of "grazing food". By far the most popular are the hot dog guys where a standard hot dog will be about $2 with or without onions, help yourself to relishes.
Nothing wrong with these whatsoever if you just require a quick bite on the hoof - look for the ones that are busy!
On a Sunday the Midtown stretch of Lexington Avenue is closed to traffic and it becomes a lively local street market. We stumbled across this by accident and were very pleased that we did so. Most of the stalls were selling pretty standard market gear that didn’t really appeal to us (a mix of cheap t-shirts and pretty ubiquitous ethnic crafts), but we enjoyed watching all the activity and soaking up the atmosphere.
It’s also a great place for a snack or light meal. We had an excellent smoothie from a stall near the junction with 47th Street East, which was freshly made to order and cost just $5. There were other similar stalls elsewhere, and you could also buy hot-dogs (of course – this is New York!), kebabs, pizza slices, freshly roasted corn-cobs, tortilla wraps, fresh melon chunks and more.
The market runs from approximately 50th Street south to 40th, I think.
Personally, I'm sick of them. But for those visiting the city, it can be fun to check out a street fair. Most often, you'll just stumble upon them. But if you want to know where they are in advance, here's a site with the calendar. At street fairs, you'll typically find food (gyros, fruit shakes, crepes, grilled corn on the cob), clothing, trinkets, and massages (some of the people giving massages are quite aggressive in getting you to come to their booths).
Since I was a little kid one of my favorite things about New York has been the street food. When I visit I don't even eat in very many restaurants because I love it so much. There's nothing like the smell of roasting, candied nuts or grilling kebabs. New York hot dogs are also excellent. Pretzels are also quite good, or they can be. Just make sure that you don't get one that was too close to the charcoal fire because sometimes they taste like lighter fluid. In the winter you can get roasted chestnuts. My personal favorites are the carts that sell Middle Eastern food. Mmmm. So if you're in New York and you're hungry try out one of the carts when you walk by!
To me what makes NYC and other great cities "great" is the urban-community feel that is brought about by all the local markets.
A welcome absence of chrome&glass / plastic
less "big box" stores like Walmart,
Olive Garden, etc.
(sadly this is changing, and Manhattan is certainly not immune to the Starbucks plague ...)
showcasing local shops & specialties on many streets.
This is an Italian Religious Festival, or a Feast that takes place for 11 days in the middle of September. The lower Manhattan Italian neighborhood of Little Italy hosts this fabulous traditional festival. Food, food and more food, plus arcade games, religious processions and church masses. It typically is extremely crowded, but it is an Incredible unique experience. Don't miss it!
Check out this website and the one below for more info.
If you're in Little Italy at anytime of the year, ask around for a zeppole. It is an Italian pastry that is really delicious.
It is like a doughnut hole, but bigger and fluffier, light and airy, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Simialr to a Beignet from New Orleans, but larger and heartier. This is an authentic Italian tip, not too many non Italians know about the zeppole. Enjoy it, you'll thank me for it!
If you are not going to be in Little Italy in the near future,
then check out the website below for zeppole and other feast recipes:
Who hasn't seen a movie set in New York City in which people order food from street vendors? They have stands at every corners and thanks to them, I'll always be amazed at how good I thought NYC smelled! Of course, you can get your oh-so-typical hot dog, but street vendors also sell pretzels, honey roasted nuts, kebabs, and so on. It makes for a quick, unexpensive snack, and we were glad to find out they actually tasted pretty good!
As everyone knows New Yorkers are always on the go and working hard that many don't even have time to stop for lunch! Luckily on almost every corner there is a NYC Hot Dog & Pretzel Vendor! This is a local custom for New Yorkers, I myself have many times bought lunch while I was on-the-go!
There's always something to do in NYC. I had no idea that during the Labor Day weekend of 2003 there would be a Brazilian Festival happening. This was convenient since I had an upcoming trip to Brazil in just over month from that time. It really got me in the mood.
Just pick up a local magazine or a Time Out New York to see what's going on.
Another typically New York past-time (to us at least!) is eating pretzels... and these cannot be any pretzel, they have to be large and warm!
We got this pretzel on the ferry crossing form Lower Manhattan to Staten Island. We had 25 minutes ahead of us, and were a tad hungry, so got one to share.
It was huge and rather hot!
On the site below you can read up a lot more about the pretzel.
This could have gone under 'Shopping Tips' but I decided to put it here since it's not really a touristy thing, it's more what local New Yorkers do.
On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and especially Saturday mornings Union Square is turned into a farmer's market.
Depending on the season you can get fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, fresh-cut flowers, fresh lamb and the wool shorn from the sheep. Practically all of it is brought by the farmers from Up-state NY who produce the goods themselves.
In the fall and winter you will see more variteies of apples than you ever thought existed!
A very neat place to visit!
Union Square is basically at Broadway and E 17th Street.
New York is full of street vendors selling food. THese include all teh places people have mentioned, such as hot dog stands, middle eastern vendors, and ice cream stands.
However, two more important sources of food on the street are teh fruit carts, which are cheap, obviously healthy sources of food.
The other thing people haven't seemed to mention yet are breakfast carts, teh source of breakfast for many new yorkers on the run. There you can get coffee, tea, bagels, muffins, even eggs or bacon. Other than possibly a bagel, breakfast carts are the cheapest as well as tasty ways to eat breakfast. There pretty common, although much more so around midtown manhattan.
For us this is typically New York.
We have watched New York detective and police dramas like Cagney and Lacey, CSI: New York and Without a Trace, and you always see them eating hotdogs and roasted peanuts.
We were walking, had just left a museum, were cold and hungry, so this just filled the spot!
These street vendors are everywhere in New York.
A touch of exotism : to eat a French pancakes made as in Paris.
It is possible to eat "crepes" in Paris but really they are the speciality of Britany.
This picture was taken in the 7th Avenue at the level of 57th St, the Memorial Day 2003.