(All photos by Suzy Jeffers for Viewing NYC)
Mad. Sq. Eats has returned to the Flatiron district, and it’s better than ever. Located in Worth Square, the festival has clearly become a favorite of many New Yorkers: the crowd on opening day (April 30th) was massive and brimming with excitement.
Mad. Sq. Eats, which is put on biannually by Urbanspace and the Madison Square Park Conservancy, has earned its success. As always, this Spring’s list of vendors is comprised of top-notch restaurants and chefs from all over the City. Newcomers and returning favorites alike set up shop in the park and thrilled festival-goers with delicious treats of the highest quality.
Here are some of the great selections from the Spring 2016 festival.
The Beatrice Inn forsook their fine dining West Village location for the streets, but absolutely maintained their high quality of food with Beatrice Burger.
This stand has the best burgers you’ll ever taste, and easily solidified its position as one of the festival’s standouts. The 45-day aged dry beef burger, served with red wine caramelized onions and d’Affinois cheese, offers all the complexity of flavor that its name promises. The “Animal Style” Burger–an off-menu option at The Beatrice Inn–is topped with a Smoked Thousand Island dressing and offers a slightly more savory but equally exquisite option. The meat from both burgers simply falls apart in your mouth. Meat aficionado and Chopped Champion Angie Mar has come prepared.
Flatiron District natives Ilili Box showed up ready to share their “inspired Mediterranean takeaway”.
The Mediterranean flavors definitely shined in their dishes. The pork belly and pita with pickled vegetables was a perfect combination of textures and tastes: the tender meat mixed well with fragrant and fresh sides. The Phoenician Fries, topped with sumac salt and a noteworthy aleppo garlic whip, are not to be missed, and the Green Lemonade was the delicious kicker to this meal.
Chingdu Korean Ramen and BBQ was there with ramen, Bibimbap, and Korean Double Fried Chicken Wings, all available in a variety of inventive flavors.
The Mandoo Spicy Pork Dumplings certainly captured all the flavors of Korea in a single bite.
Red Hook Lobster Pound made it all the way from Brooklyn with their signature seafood.
The Maine Lobster Roll was vibrant both in color and in taste, and featured a perfect blend of textures. The lobster was fresh and springy and the homemade lemon mayo was light, while the scallions and toasty bread added crunch to the blend.
Ono Hut by AsiaDog was present exclusively for the Mad. Sq. Eats Spring 2016 season, serving up delicious Hawaiian-inspired treats.
The Ono Dog presented a New York classic with a twist: the hot dog was topped with a tangy slaw. It was an unusual combination, and Ono Hut pulled it off.
The health-and-taste-conscious Two Tablespoons came to the festival with their commitment to serve wholesome and delicious vegetarian options.
The Tofu, Quinoa, and Almond Milk Summer Roll was the perfect vehicle to transport the rich, nutritious ingredients from the table to your mouth in one bite. The tofu was creamy and satisfying, and the rice paper was silken and perfectly sticky.
As their name promised, The Cannibal Butcher and Beer came from their 29th Street location with a selection of meaty sandwiches and cold beers.
The Pigs Head Cuban was outrageously good, featuring succulent pig’s head, Vermont ham, and melted Gruyere between a toasted flat bun. This sandwich achieved the perfect balance of meat and bread, despite the intimidating name.
Arancini Bros. was back with their famous Sicilian Rice Balls.
The Ragu and Pizza Balls delivered the taste of Italy inside a perfectly crusted exterior, and the Nutella Ball gave its delicious filling new life in this creative dessert.
The Spicy Chicken Tamales were an absolute standout at this festival. The corn-based masa exterior had a perfect starchy texture and sweet taste without overdoing it in either of those areas. The spicy shredded chicken, chili dusted avocados, and jalapeños created multiple layers of spice, which added maturity to this delicious dish.
Macaron Parlour never fails to excite and delight.
The Strawberry Macaron was exquisite, delicate, and sweet, and the Candied Bacon With Maple Cream Cheese kept the magnificence of the macaron while adding a fun twist. The cookies were a wonderful maple flavor, and there was a surprise nugget of candied bacon in the center of the dessert.
The Detention Ice Cream Sandwich flavor–a malted vanilla, Mexican chocolate brownie, and fruity pebble dust mixture available only at Mad. Sq. Eats–was seriously delicious, and the handcut Birthday Party Marshmallow, torched behind the counter to give it a bit of a burnt flavor, was melt-in-your-mouth and fluffy.
These are only a small selection of the vendors that have set up shop at this Spring’s Mad. Sq. Eats. Check out the event page for the complete lineup of restaurants and chefs.