Last Chance to Visit Vendy Plaza at East Harlem’s La Marqueta Sunday, Nov 23

This coming Sunday, November 23, is the last weekend to attend Vendy Plaza, at least for now. For the past four Sundays, our friends at the Street Vendor Project and the Vendy Awards have turned East Harlem’s historic La Marqueta public market into a gathering place for outdoor food vendors, music, and culture.

La Marqueta was originally called the Park Avenue Retail Market when Mayor Fiorello La Guardia opened it in 1936 as a place for street vendors to operate in East Harlem, part of his campaign to get vendors off the streets and into indoor markets. While more than a dozen of these public markets were built in the 1930’s and 40’s, today only four are still operating and are owned by the City of New York: La Marqueta, the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market (which will likely be relocated as part of the Essex Crossing development), the Arthur Avenue Market in the Bronx, and the Moore Street Market in Williamsburg (which you can visit on our Immigrant Foodways Tour on select Saturdays).>> Continue reading

Workday Lunch Rush Tours Get You Ready for the 2014 Vendys

With just a five days until the big event, we here at Turnstile Tours are celebrating the Vendy Awards and spotlighting our favorite Vendy nominees, past and present, with our Lunch Rush Tours. This year marks the event’s 10th anniversary, so these tours are a chance to get acquainted with some of the honored street food vendors of years past, as well as the 2014 class of nominees.

Each tour will feature three mini-meals, and give participants the opportunity to not only discover the great street food on their block, but also learn about the industry and the great work of the organization behind the Vendys, the Street Vendor Project. This week’s tours will be led by Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson, both of whom are experienced street food guides and have been involved with Vendy Awards planning and street vendor advocacy efforts.>> Continue reading

Vendy Awards Roll into New Orleans March 13

On this wintry Friday in New York City, our thoughts are with the many street vendors slinging hot dogs and chicken over rice in the snow and slush.  But we are also daydreaming of milder climes, where vendors don’t need to warm themselves by the flattop, and ungloved fingers aren’t frozen making change.  That magical place is New Orleans, host to the latest installment of the Vendy Awards, taking place Wednesday, March 13.>> Continue reading

Food Trucks Helping Communities Recover from Sandy

Wafels and Dinges truck in New Dorp

As we all know by now, the actual wind, rain, and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy this weekend were only the beginning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, and whole swaths of neighborhoods have been destroyed. As the weather gets colder this week, it’s more important than ever for those without shelter and power to get hot meals.

Thanks to the New York City Food Truck Association, along with generous help from JetBlue, a number of New York’s best food trucks have been able to provide hot meals to people in need, despite gas shortages and limited road service. Last week, trucks started appearing to donate food to the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan that were still without power, and they served over 20,000 meals. But as news reports started coming in about the massive devastation in areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways, the food trucks turned their engines to the communities that needed it most.>> Continue reading

Turnstile Tours at the 2012 Vendy Awards [Video]

As a street vendor we know likes to say, “Food is love.” If that’s so, then the Vendy Awards are a massive, jubilant, gut-busting celebration of that love. Each year, vendors from across New York City are brought to Governors Island not so much to compete, but the share their food and stand up for their rights (though winning the coveted Vendy Cup is a big, big deal – just ask the winners). The event’s sponsor, the Street Vendor Project, which provides advocacy and legal services to vendors, tries to bring together vendors of all backgrounds – humble, immigrant-owned carts from the outer boroughs stand beside slick, high-flying gourmet trucks. And everybody spends the day eating until they can hardly move.>> Continue reading

Celebrate Jackson Heights with Jeff Orlick and the 82nd Street Partnership

Our good friend Jeff Orlick, who runs food tours in Queens, is working with the 82nd Street Partnership to organize a free festival in Elmhurst/Jackson Heights on Friday called Viva La Comida! The event will showcase the exciting diversity in the community and celebrate the food, music, craft, and culture of the area.

In addition to live entertainment and a pop-up craft market, many local small businesses will be selling their goods. Jeff has handpicked a number of food trucks and carts to participate. The options will range from the famous Arepa Lady (one of my favorite food carts in the entire city) to Patacon Pisao (a Vendy award nominee in 2010) to this year’s Vendy nominee Morocho (which serves delicious Peruvian fusion food) to the elusive and unique Chipper Truck (which sells Irish food from a truck!) There were also be two of Jeff’s favorite Mexican food vendors: Tacos la Familia and El Coyote Dormilon.>> Continue reading