It’s the time of year again, when the venerable Essex Street Market marks its anniversary with an all-out block party, taking over the stretch between Delancey and Rivington with pushcarts, astroturf, outdoor DJs, and delicious food galore. It’s been 76 years and as the longest-surviving market from the La Guardia era, it deserves to celebrate. (To get the full deets on its history, check out our deep dive into its roots. You can also get a free market tour at the party, from Turnstile Tours).
It’s going to be like Smorgasburg, but chill and neighborhoody instead of hyperactive and mobbed by French tourists. DJs Deja, Kai Song and Kyle will keep the music going and you can say hey to your local fruit vendor while you’re shimmying. Choose from pickle and cheese “dogs” from Saxelby Cheesemongers, Mexican snacks from Puebla, or mushroom taleggio or Nutella rice balls from Arancini Bros.
Even better, we’ll finally get to taste a debut from much-anticipated market newcomer Osaka Grub. They’ll be doling out hashimaki, an eggy pancake wrapped around chopsticks in both bacon and mushroom flavors. Best of all, most dishes will cost less than $5, so get ready to fill up your belly.
This year the block party is letting other neighborhood small biz into the fun too. The Leadbelly (sister bar of The Fat Radish) will have a tuna poke bowl and the Grey Lady will be slinging a NOLA-style grilled oyster sandwich with seafood from the market (but no insanely-fast oyster eating contests like the one we witnessed in February). Pies ‘n’ Thighs and Cafe Katja will also represent, as well as Ice & Vice, the latest ice cream darling of the LES food scene, which plans to whip up one of its weirdo specialty flavors inspired by the market (it’s still in the works, but we hear it might involve prickly pear).
And in case you forgot, the Essex Market is on the cusp of some pretty big changes. In a few years its history-laden 76-year-old building will be knocked down as part of the Essex Crossing development and the market will move across the street to a brand new fancy facility, anchoring a 700-foot-long open market along Broome Street called the Market Line (also the block party’s sponsor). All the current vendors are guaranteed a spot with the same rent (and they’ll surely enjoy the brand new AC system) but a little something of the hubbub of the old-school atmosphere will be lost. It’s a great time to soak up the neighborhoody vibes of the market as it is now, and hopefully help usher it into the next chapter.
Essex Market Block Party, May 21s from 12pm-5pm on Essex, between Delancey and Rivington.