Sure, Smorgasburg used to satiate your eccentric food cravings, but, like everything else in this city, popularity got the best of it and now it’s a crowded, sweaty mess, populated with frat boys, tourists and out-of-town parents scrambling for the last bite of $12 truffled ramen burrito and fighting for a table in the shade. If you’re looking for a chiller place to sample an array of drinks and creative new eats while hanging outside with your besties, maybe one of these summer food fests will do the trick. Just don’t bogart the okinomiyaki on a stick.
Taste of Bushwick
Tuesday, June 14, 6:30-9 p.m. 24 Rock Street (enter at Bogart Street). Tickets $40 ($50 after June 7).
Inspired by the Taste of Long Island City, this fest originally began with just 12 restaurants inside of Bushwick Starr, the theater that has organized it for the past three years. When it quickly became clear they’d need a bigger space, Boar’s Head stepped up to host the larger event in the private street of its distribution center at 24 Rock Street.
“People who are dining in Brooklyn are looking for more adventurous culinary experiences,” says Noel Allain, the artistic director of the Bushwick Starr. Not only is this a way to be on the cutting edge, it’s an opportunity to assuage the decision fatigue of trying to figure out where to get dinner next. “You can show up at one place and try all the places and do your research,” says Allain.
Rain or shine, come hungry– in fact you may want to skip lunch, even if it means getting hangry on your coworkers. Instead of standing in a sweaty line counting your dollar bills, this event is a free-for-all once you buy a ticket (tomorrow is the last day to get an early bird special for $40; after that it costs $50). And it’s held in the evening, so you can unwind with friends instead of wasting your Saturday in a giant food coma.
Once inside the big tents at Boar’s Head, you’ll be faced with cutesy bite-sized options from over 40 restaurants and bars– that’s right, there’s plenty of drinks involved in this tasting event, so don’t plan any early morning meetings the next day. There’ll be spirit tastings from Owney’s Rum or you can drink up the tipples of Dromedary Bar, Hops & Hocks, Braven Brewing Company, and Yours Sincerely. For something a bit different and non-alcoholic, sample the relaxing brews of House of Kava or pungent switchel from Montana’s Trail House
Over the years, the participant list has grown to such a degree that it seems like half of Bushwick is in on the game. “The restaurants out here are taking risks, they can afford to take risks and it’s really exciting and becoming more of a culinary destination and arts destination,” said Sue Kessler, executive director of the Bushwick Starr.
This year the food offerings include Ethiopian grub from Bunna Cafe, meats from Tchoup Shop, rustic Italian fare from Faro, Japanese savory pancakes from Okiway, Pakistani burgers from BK Jani and surf-and-turf from the brand new Sea Wolf. Of course, don’t forget the sweets: FINE & RAW chocolate factory, Pawpsicle, My Sweet Brigadeiros are a few we’re looking forward to.
This year Syndicated movie house is hosting the casual afterparty–and if you go to see Chef or Delicatessen on Monday, it’ll get you $10 off your ticket to ToB.
Grub Street Beats & Eats
Saturday, June 11, 12 p.m.- 6 p.m. Corner of Hester and Essex Streets.
On the other side of the Williamsburg Bridge, it’s worth stopping by the Hester Street Fair this weekend when it morphs into the Beats and Eats festival sponsored by Guinness and our sister blog Grub Street. No, there isn’t an all-you-can-eat ticket to keep you rolling all afternoon, but it’s a smaller lineup and generally more chill with lots of locals hanging out for a bite of Grub Street’s selections. Choices include delicious Scarr’s Pizza, Essex Market’s newcomer Osaka Grub, Mr. Bing, Huertas, Boothbay Lobster, Mikey Likes It Ice-Cream, Awkward Scone, and Tapiocada. Of course there’s the “beats” part of it too, which means Brendan Fallis and DJ Neil Armstrong will be spinning tunes all afternoon.