Hester Street Fair is a Treasure Trove of Good Eats, Treats, and well, Treasures
May 3, 2012 by Jen Balisi
It’s officially spring in New York City, which means one thing: outdoor eating and drinking! Yes, it’s that wonderful time of year when your favorite beer gardens become lively, that sunken-ship-turned-bar-and-grill on the Hudson has regular hours, and most importantly food-wise, all of the outdoor markets reopen. With choices like Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg in Williamsburg and New Amsterdam Market in the Financial District, there’s great options out there for trying out unique food vendors (especially some which only sell at the markets) while scoping out vintage and hand-crafted goods.
This past weekend, I decided to check out the opening day of the Hester Street Fair at Hester and Essex St. in the Lower East Side. While the space apparently has a really long history, the outdoor market is now being run by a group which includes Suchin Pak, who you probably know from MTV News during TRL (RIP childhood). They’ve been acknowledged for curating vendors with quality food and goods, even getting re-created at Henri Bendel during Fashion’s Night Out. So when they announced their opening day menu, I knew I had to go. It was definitely crowded since I went at the peak time of 2PM, but waiting in a few lines was worth it for the really fantastic food I tried out (which you should too).
Patacon Pisao was definitely a highlight. The Vendy finalist served arepas, patacones, and other Venezuelan food. I tried out a patacon for the first time in my life, which is a protein (like shredded beef or pulled pork) with lettuce, tomato, fried cheese, mayo, and optional hot sauce or chipotle sauce served in a plantain bun. I repeat, it is served in a twice-fried plaintain bun. I’d go on about it being super delicious, but the picture from their website (above) says it all.
Another great vendor of Latin food at Hester St. Fair was La Sonrisa, who had a variety of empanadas, as well as a slider and Cuban-style corn. We tried out the coconut curry chicken empanada which was nice and crispy on the outside and had a really great and surprising curry flavor inside, almost like a Thai curry puff.
La Sonrisa was actually raising funds so that they can put their empanadas in a frozen grocery section near you, which would be pretty awesome. Aside from the empanadas, their pulled pork slider with chipotle mayo (right) was definitely near the top of our list of things we tried. It was super juicy with so much great flavor, though the bun got soggy fairly quickly.
Probably the vendor with the longest line was the Brooklyn restaurant Pies-n-Thighs, who served a fried chicken cutlet with sweet melted butter and optional hot sauce in a giant biscuit. It. Was. Glorious.
While I didn’t get Luke’s Lobster since there’s one right by my apartment, the seafood roll surveyor (who I think has the best lobster roll in the city) is definitely worth your while if you’re going to Hester St. Fair. This should speak for itself. We Rub You also drew a big crowd and is definitely on my to-do list for next time I head to Hester Street or go to Smorgasburg. Food aside, there were some really nice vintage and hand-crafted wares there as well, everything from handmade jewelry and frames to vintage pumps to instant portraits taken by a golden Polaroid camera. All in all, you really can’t go wrong spending a sunny Saturday afternoon at Hester Street Fair. I know I’ll be paying them a visit again soon (especially since their vendors rotate weekly!) Check out all my pictures, from the food to the goods, below: