Long ago, before the Vendy Awards and the UnFancy Food Show, before the hipster gastrofleas and the culinarily enlightened park concessions, there was only the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival and the Sabrett cart. Now that the city’s gone street-food-crazy, it’s become increasingly overwhelming to navigate all the artisanally crafted options. Here, then, is our highly subjective guide to the best alfresco banquets on $20 a day.
Hester Street Fair
Essex St. at Hester St.
Saturdays, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
APPETIZER: Bruce Cost’s whole-wheat edamame bao, made in Bushwick, also encases bok choy and broccoli ($1.50).
ENTRÉE: The shrimp roll is Luke’s Lobster’s best deal: sweet crustaceans basted with butter, dusted with spice, and tucked into a butter-griddled bun ($8). palate cleanser: La Newyorkina’s mango-chile paleta ($4).
DESSERT: Mini banoffee pie from First Prize Pies layers toffee caramel, bananas, and whipped cream in a British-digestives crust ($5).
East River waterfront nr. N. 6th St., Williamsburg
Saturdays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
APPETIZER: La Buena’s super-smooth, highly refreshing gazpacho, from the Txikito team. Nothing tastes better on a hot day ($5).
ENTRÉE: Bon Chovie Jersey-style whole fried anchovies with pickled peppers and smoked-paprika aïoli ($6).
SIDE: Empire Mayonnaise fries and luxury-mayo sampler, in flavors like mole and yuzu kosho ($5).
DESSERT: Liddabit Sweets’ Rowdy Roddy, maple cotton candy spun on a pretzel rod ($4).
New Amsterdam Market
South St. nr. Beekman St.
Sundays, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
APPETIZER: Wasan’s delicate, fried-to-order tempura sugar-snap peas ($7).
ENTRÉE: The South Street Seaport seems an especially appropriate setting for the Pie Corps’ salt-cod hand pie ($6).
DESSERT: People’s Pops sweet and refreshing chai-rhubarb ice pop, with chunks of fresh fruit ($3.50).
Rockaway Beach Club
Rockaway Beach boardwalk at Beach 86th St., Beach 96th St., and Beach 106th St.
AMUSE-BOUCHE: Rockaway Taco’s crunchy spears of chile-and-lime-dressed cucumbers, jícama, and mango ($4).
APPETIZER: Rippers’ hot dog, made from New York State pork and grass-fed beef, comes via the Meat Hook in Williamsburg ($3.75).
ENTRÉE: Motorboat & the Big Banana’s deftly fried hake “fish boat” with French fries and herb-flecked tartar ($7.50).
DESSERT: BabyCakes mini vegan doughnut—possibly better than a regular doughnut ($1.25).