As every New Yorker knows, restaurants are a vital part of any neighborhood. One of the best parts of living here is the vast array of places we have to eat on any given night, even during a global pandemic.
Now that we’re deep into summer and the city’s back open in a way that seemed almost unfathomable not so long ago, New Yorkers can keep the party going, even if that means ordering in, with Grubhub! Plus, diners can donate the change and round up their orders to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to the Restaurant Strong Fund to support local restaurants impacted by the pandemic. It’s the most delicious way to support your local favorites or try something new.
Gothamist and Grubhub are teaming up to celebrate amazing restaurants that, whether they’re a few blocks from your place or a bike ride away, are NYC favorites that we think you’ll love too. First stop? Smorgasburg.
It’s been such a huge and influential success, you almost wonder why no one around here thought to do it sooner. In the spring of 2008, Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby opened the gates to a schoolyard in Fort Greene, packed for the occasion with all manner of antiques, vintage wares, and the works of local artisans, and called the instantly popular weekly event the Brooklyn Flea.
Crucially, there were also a few food booths on hand, and then, when these proved to be such a hit, a few more, until three years later Butler and Demby spun off the Flea to also open Smorgasburg, an increasingly-sprawling outdoor market devoted entirely to joys of eating. Over the last decade, Smorgasburg has not only become an culinary and entertainment destination for locals and tourists alike, but the low-overhead format has also proven to be an invaluable incubator opportunity for fledgling chefs and restaurateurs, many of whom have gone on to open successful brick-and-mortar operations.
This summer there are Smorgasburg locations open every week in Williamsburg, Prospect Park, Jersey City, at the World Trade Center… and, as of this weekend, thanks to an exclusive partnership with Grubhub, in your own apartment. That’s right, now you can skip the lines and order directly from more than a dozen of this summer’s most popular vendors, and Grubhub’s delivery team will bring your goodies straight to your door. Here’s a look at some of our favorite vendors participating this year.
If you’re looking to bring some heat to your Saturday (or Sunday!) afternoon, Smorgasburg stalwart Noodle Lane will definitely deliver the chili-oil-soaked goods. I usually get founder Lane Li’s first-rate Dan Dan Noodles, with either pork or shrimp, but her milder Cheong Fun, an oversized, pan-seared rice noodle stuffed with scallions and drenched in peanut sauce, really hits the spot too. Sichuan Cucumbers, served cold, and Hong Kong-style waffle cakes, served warm, round out the offerings here.
Tacumi Taco and Wah Gwaan
There are some great tacos to be found at both Brooklyn Smorgasburgs, and some of them come with an unexpected twist. At Tacumi Taco, which sets up shop in both locations, it’s all about “Japanese inspired Mexican,” with varieties like a Curry Beef Taco in a crisp gyoza shell, a sashimi-grade Spicy Tuna Taco with jicama and avocado, and, for vegans, Tofu Tinga and Japanese Lentil Tacos. Meanwhile, on Sundays you can order from Wah Gwaan in Prospect Park, which promises “tacos with a vibe,” and is lively with island flavors such as a Jerk Pork Taco with pineapple salsa, a Jerk Chicken Taco, and a Cod Fish Taco with mango chutney.
A.T.M Vegan Deli
Smorgasburg has always had a bunch of great vegan and vegetarian options, but one of the best to emerge in recent years has to be A.T.M. Vegan Deli in Prospect Park, a Brooklyn-based operation that specializes in vegan versions of classic bodega sandwiches. There’s a B.E.C. made with maple wood smoked mushrooms and tofu scramble, for example, and a S.E.C. that stars some good, punchy housemade seitan, and, my go-to here, a C.H.P. using Beyond meat that’s as satisfying as any chopped cheese you’ll find anywhere. Definitely get the crisp Kale Caesar Slaw and the chilled Potato Salad too.
Pop Pasta and Dylana’s Sweet Treats
Pop Pasta was an immediate hit here back in 2017 when they unveiled their wild-looking, great-tasting Spaghetti Donuts, and lines at their Williamsburg booth continue to this day. There are three flavors from which to choose: a Carbonara one with bacon bits, a creamy Vodka Sauce one, and a crowd-pleasing Mac and Cheese beauty. For something sweet on Sunday in Prospect Park, order either–or both!–of the bread pudding options at Dylana’s Sweet Treats, a new Brooklyn-based outfit with a Trinidadian flair.
Thai Bird and Mai Bpen Rai
Ordering in some top-notch Thai food is easy all weekend too. On Saturday in Williamsburg the excellent Thai Bird, at which chef Tae Kang turns out hundreds of fiery, fried-chicken filled pineapple “bowls.” The bird here is always remarkably juicy, and the pineapple chunks below make for a great counterpoint. And on Sunday in Prospect Park it’s Mai Bpen Rai’s turn, where longtime Fatty Crab chef Kris Olbrich slings a variety of full-flavored green papaya salads, including one with Grilled Lemongrass Chicken and another with Jumbo Lump and Claw Crabmeat Shrimp.
OrderThai Bird on Saturdays
Berg’s Pastrami and Brown Butter Supper Club
Sometimes you just want a really great sandwich, and Berg’s Pastrami, run by Andrew Steinberg on Saturdays in Williamsburg, delivers exactly that. Get the straight-up NYC classic of fatty, peppery pastrami on rye with mustard, or go for one of the “secret” menu items like a grilled pastrami with melted cheese on garlic bread. On Sundays, if your feeling slightly fancy, Brown Butter Supper Club makes a superb Short Rib Sando starring braised lamb on focaccia. Less fancy but just as delicious: a gooey S’mores Trifle.
One of Smorgasburg’s most consistently popular stands are run by the good folks of Vaquero Elotes, who not only sell one of the best versions you’ll ever have of that classic Mexican street snack–the corn on a cob grilled to a char, then rolled in chili powder and cheese–but also offer juicy (and spicy!) mango “flowers.” Vaquero Elotes also makes a full line of fruity Aguas Frescas and homemade Horchata.
Brooklyn Baked and Fried
Fried Chicken and Waffles are a welcome addition to any weekend, and the easiest way to get a few of these beauties into your home for a Saturday brunch is by ordering from Brooklyn Baked and Fried. There are lots of varieties to choose from, from the Classic Stack with crisp fried bird, warm waffles, and maple syrup, to the BLTA Chuck with bacon, cheddar, and avocado sauce. Either way, you definitely won’t go hungry here.
No one at Smorgasburg has a better variety of grilled delights than long-time favorites Yakitori Katsu, where on any given Saturday in Williamsburg, you can order marinated, well-seasoned, skewered-up chicken (breasts or thighs), scallops, pork, kobe beef, eel, pumpkin, octopus, shishito peppers, lamb chops, anko and mitarashi rice balls… a whole feast’s worth of meat, fish, grains, and vegetables.
Go to either Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, and one of the longest food lines you’ll see all day is always for Rooster Boy, Richard Kashida and Joseph Hirotsu’s Japanese Fried Chicken stand. And no wonder! Rooster Boy’s birds are terrific, whether in sandwich or nugget format, the former sauced-up on a soft, buttery roll and served with fries, the latter starring some juicy thigh meat beneath a crisp, well-seasoned exterior.
The excellent Venezuluan Arepas are the most obvious reason to order from Vayalo! Cocina this summer, open both Saturdays and Sundays and run by Paola Fernández, her sister, Ana, and Ana’s wife Katherine Rengifo. The magnificent Cheesy, the Sweet Negritas, or black beans, the chicken-and-avocado Reina Pepiada: all are terrific. But don’t sleep on their crisp and fluffy Yuca Fries either.
The Good Batch
Finally, no visit to Smorgasburg is complete without eating some ice cream… so no super-convenient Grubhub home delivery order should be without some too. The Good Batch is Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg’s longest-running vendor, having been out here literally every summer since the beginning, and their ice cream sandwiches, available in several varieties including Chocolate Chunk and Confetti, always make for a delicious frozen treat.
As more restaurants have opened up throughout the city, New Yorkers can keep supporting these institutions by exploring new spots or ordering their favorite meals with Grubhub. Consider supporting a neighborhood business and treat yourself to some delicious food delivered right to your door!