Details about Anthony Bourdain’s forthcoming international food court are still as slim as Tony himself, but it may end up looking like chicken feed next to Smorgasburg’s latest offering, launching in Long Island City this Saturday.
Rather than round up the usual suspects as they did for their Seaport and Coney Island offshoots, Smorg approached Joe DiStefano, a food writer, tour guide, and events producer who is to Queens what Jonathan Gold is to Los Angeles, and asked him to single out his favorite spots in his home borough. Needless to say, he kept it very real.
“If I go to a market, I don’t necessarily want to taste Brad’s version of Indonesian corndogs that he invented after going away on vacation,” DiStefano told us over the phone while we sat on a park bench in Kew Gardens, basking in Queens cred. “I want to taste something, for want of a better word, authentic.”
That’s why he went to the trouble of enlisting a translator, in some cases, in order to snag some “real hawker-center type vendors” to join more familiar faces like Wooly’s, who’ll be doing their Taiwanese shaved snow. (Wooly’s, by the way, will also be participating in Brooklyn Flea’s annual ice cream bonanza, July 18 and 19.)
Among the delicacies you’ll be able to find at the indoor-outdoor space behind M Wells every Saturday will be beef ribs from Celebes Bakar Grill (from Astoria’s Masjid Al Hikmah Indonesian food bazaar) and Filipino stingray sandwiches from Papa’s Kitchen in Woodside. “For the real adventurous, myself included,” said DiStefano, the latter will also be serving baluut, a six-day-old fertilized duck egg.
For the less adventurous, Grandpa Val’s BBQ (helmed by a veteran of John Brown’s Smokehouse) will be doing brisket and Kansas City-style pork spare ribs.
DiStefano is excited to bring some of the more insular purveyors to a wider audience. “It’ll be good for the vendors and good for Queens,” he said.
So will the 7 train suddenly replace the L as the vehicle of choice for New York’s weekend food tourists? “Ask me in three months,” said DiStefano, “when I’m leading a food tour and my secret tofu spot is mobbed with people – which I don’t think is necessarily going to happen.”
Here’s Smorg’s rundown of vendors.
Smorgasburg Queens: The World’s Fare, Saturdays 11am to 6pm, 43-29 Crescent St. (Court Sq), Long Island City