Street Food Ruled at the 11th Annual New York City Vendy Awards on Governors Island

The Vendy Awards food festival is a food truck competition where the hottest street food vendors in the City are pitted head-to-head in a ticket-holder taste off to determine the best the City has to offer.

Finalists were selected from public nominations and compete in 5 different categories: Vendy Cup/People’s Choice, Rookie of the Year, Best of Market, A Special 2015 Category, and Best Dessert. These vendors bring their best dishes to the event and ticket holders sample delicious offerings from each vendor before voting for their favorites!

This past Saturday, the 11th Annual Vendy Awards took place out on Governors Island, and we were there to try everything.

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Food Coma

Literally. Every. Single. Dish. The sacrifices we make for you at Viewing NYC…

We decided to approach our tasting by category in order to rate and vote with each contestant’s signature dish fresh in mind against the rest.

  1. Vendy Cup / People’s Choice
  2. Rookie of the Year
  3. Best of Market
  4. Best of Dessert
  5. Best Street Drink

After 5 hours of eating, sampling, tasting, drinking, gorging, stuffing and judging, the crowd and panel of judges picked one winner in each category. Read on, or jump ahead to find out who won!

Vendy Cup / People’s Choice

The best-of-the-best, battling for the top spot and trophy.

Biryani House

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Biryani House

Biryani House is an unassuming Indian street food cart with multiple locations throughout the City, with their famous spot on the corner of Liberty and Broadway where tourists and FiDi lunchers alike all wait in line as equals for their delicious food.

Shaheen Malik Akhtaruzzaman emigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2004. Whereas he had owned a restaurant in his native village, in New York he got a job as a busboy at Planet Hollywood, in Times Square. On his breaks, he would go visit the two famous (and Vendy-nominated) Bangladeshi carts nearby – Kwik Meal and Biryani Cart. Shaheen began working at Biryani cart, and then, several years later, opened the first Bangladeshi cart in Lower Manhattan, where he runs 3 carts, most famously at Liberty Street and Broadway. He, his wife, and three kids recently bought their first home, in Jamaica Estates, Queens.

We ate: Chicken Kati Roll

It looks like any other unassuming food cart of NYC, but Biryani House’s signature Chicken Kati Roll is out of this world. A mix of chicken, onions, peppers wrapped in a perfected crispy breading. Whatever the spice was in the kati roll was fragrant and makes you want to keep going back for more. We had started our vendy awards food journey pacing ourselves, but once we took a bite out of the kati roll, we just couldn’t stopw.

Hard Times Sundaes

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Hard Times Sundaes

Hard Times Sundaes is quickly rising to the upper echelon of burgers in the City, earning favorable reviews in major culinary publications as well as being featured on Esquire’s The Next Great Burger.

Hard Times Sundaes food truck was opened by chef-owner Andrew Zurica after his brick and mortar restaurant, Luncheonette, was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. Despite being away from the Manhattan crowds in Mill Basin, Andrew’s burger truck has earned Zurica numerous write ups (NY Times, Thrillist, BK Mag) for being one of the city’s best burgers, and the truck was recently featured on Esquire’s The Next Great Burger. The signature burger, “the hard times burger” is a single, double or triple burger with American cheese, caramelized onions and thick cut hardwood smoked bacon, on a buttered and grilled potato roll that soaks up the right amount of flavors from the grill. Think you’ve tried the best burger ever? Andrew would claim you haven’t tried Hard Times Sundaes.

We ate: Hard Times Burger

The Hard Times Burger has everything you could possibly want from a burger. It’s served up on a nicely buttered potato roll and saturated with the flavor of cheese, beef, bacon and sweet caramelized onions. The classic and perfect hungry person’s food.

Guandong Cheong Fun

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Guandong Cheong Fun

Brooklyn’s Guandong Cheong Fun serves up traditional Southern Chinese comfort food in the form of made-to-order fresh rice noodles loaded with sauces, spices and amazing fresh flavor.

Guandong Cheong Fun is a neighborhood legend cooking up Cantonese steamed rice noodles known as “cheongfun” from a pushcart in the heart of South Brooklyn’s Chinatown (61st Street & 8th Ave). Traditionally eaten for breakfast, cheong fun are made using a thin rice batter topped with meat or vegetables, and then steamed, rolled, and cut into noodles. Husband and Wife team Ri Xin Kuang and Xiao Juan Yu decided to bring the flavors of southern China, where Kuang honed his skills making cheong fun in restaurants, to New York City when they started in 2012. They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients to make each rice noodle roll to order topped off with a selection of homemade sauces.

We ate: Chicken Cheong Fun

This traditional dish is a light and fluffy freshly-made rice noodle dish, full of savory goodness. We tried the rice batter topped with tender chicken and sprinkled with 3 layers of delicious homemade sauces.

Snowday Food Truck

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Snowday Food Truck

We first shared Snowday Food Truck with you a few months ago, and are pleased to share with you again. Not only does Snowday serve up amazing American classics out on Roosevelt Island on warm-weather weekends, but they also stock with locally sourced cuisine, and hire, teach and empower formerly incarcerated youth.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year Winner is back to compete for the big one. Snowday describes their food as “Gourmet Lumberjack,” and is the city’s first farm-to-truck food truck. Their menu features a maple grilled cheese, local beef neck, maple smoked spare ribs and a seasonal selection of pickles, salads and vegetables. Snowday Food Truck is as inspiring as it is delicious. The truck is run by Drive Change - a New York based organization that uses the food truck industry to train, employ and empower young people who are coming home from jail and prison so they can access new opportunities and live bright futures.

We ate: Cucumber Mint Slushy, Cold Brewed Coffee, Maple Grilled Cheese, Fried-Smoked Spare Riblet

Snowday food truck invited us to a three-course feast, starting with a refreshing and thirst quenching cucumber mint slushy, followed by a light and invigorating cold brew, and ending with a sweet, savory and crunchy grilled cheese topped with maple syrup accompanied by a juicy fried-smoked spare rib that had the meat literally falling off the bone.

The food just melted in your mouth. While you’re in a food-induced coma trying to make sense of how anything could be so good, the staff inspires you with their origin story of empowerment for formerly incarcerated youth and their use of locally sourced products. Not only did you just eat amazing food, you leave Snowday feeling like a better person.

Souvlaki Lady

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Souvlaki Lady

The Souvlaki Lady is perhaps the most well-know person in Astoria. Serving up authentic Greek tastes passed down from generation to generation, Elpida’s Souvlaki stand has been a staple in the community for 25 years and counting.

Known to all of Astoria as the Souvlaki Lady, Elpida Vasiliadis’ greek food cart is nothing short of an institution. For twenty-five years the Souvlaki Lady has served on the corner of 33rd Street and Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, Queens. Vasiliadis celebrated recipes are those she learned from her grandmother. Vasiliadis was part of the emergence of Greek food in New York City — when she started serving souvlaki the only people who knew what she was serving were Greek immigrants. Now she serves to everyone in the neighborhood, who can’t stop coming back for the taste of Greece.

We ate: Chicken Souvlaki, Lamb Souvlaki

A group of fun and friendly staff greeted us to our choice of chicken, pork or lamb. The meat is very simply seasoned in order to bring the native taste of the meat to the forefront of the dish. Grilled meat is accompanied by refreshing tzatziki sauce served on top of a perfectly grilled pita. Yum!

Rookie of the Year

The best of 2015 new food carts and trucks

Coney Shack Tacos

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Coney Shack

The Coney Shack out on (surprise!) Coney Island is an amazing red and black street truck that is adorned with Joker themed artwork and serves up South East Asian Inspired tacos on the cheap.

Lawrence Mach’s Coney Shack cooks up Southeast Asian inspired tacos, hot dogs, grilled cheeses and quesadillas on Coney Island. The beach goer’s favorite is known for their Vietnamese beef short rib taco, their beer battered crunchy fish taco, and their Chikka Dog - an Asian inspired riff on the Coney Island classic. Open since 2013, Mach has garnered a name for himself and Coney Shack’s beach front offerings.

We ate: Vietnamese Beef Shortribs Taco, Beer Battered Crunchy Fish Taco, Five Spice Calamari Taco

Coney Shack wanted us to have the full experience so we were served 3 mini-tacos, each about 3 inches, made with the five spice calamari, the beer-battered fried fish and the Vietnamese short rib beef. The Calamari was crispy with delicate sweet sauce and light slaw on top. Beer Battered fish was perfectly fried, crispy and crunchy on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside. Vietnamese short ribs were sweet and tender, with a toasted sesame topping along with carrots and cilantro. Amazingly, all three tacos were gone in 2 bites each. Delicious!

Kaya NYC

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Kaya NYC is an Asian Fusion food truck that normally operates out of Dumbo and SoHo, bringing the Asian flavors found in Chinatown, Flushing, and Sunset Park together into delicious Gua Baos.

Kaya NYC is the latest food cart to serve gua baos, popcorn chicken and other Taiwanese street food goodies in downtown Manhattan and in Dumbo. Inside the tiny steel cart chef-owner David Li master authentic Taiwanese food with a modern twist, with the goal of bringing the flavors of Chinatown, Flushing and Sunset Park to office dwellers. Their specialty baos menu include pork belly, shredded chicken, peking duck and fried tofu.

We ate: Pork Belly Bao, Popcorn Chicken Bao

The amazing Pork Belly Bao warranted the long lines for Kaya. Tender, bite-sized bits of pork belly seasoned with hoisin sauce, green onion, cucumber on a soft, Chinese sweet bun. The Popcorn Chicken Bao looked more like a piece of art than an edible delight, with crispy golden fried chicken, topped with shaved bright orange spiral carrots and vibrant green cilantro. Each bao went from tray to tummy in 2 secs flat.

Lil Zeus Lunch Box

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Lil Zeus Lunch Box

Midtown’s Lil Zeus Lunch Box is a welcomed new addition to the scarse lunch options near Times Square. With classic American-Greek cuisine prepared fresh to order, Lil Zeus already has quite the following, and quite the line to prove it.

Lil Zeus Lunch Box earns its name from the small blue cart serving Greek food daily in Midtown West on 49th Street and 6th avenue. Chef-owner Jerry Maravelakis and his business partner hail from Queens and are proud to serve the Greek food they grew up eating from their parents generation. Despite being new on the scene, this little cart packs a mean punch with notoriously long lines producing generously portioned charcoal grilled souvlaki.

We ate: Chicken Souvlaki Rice Platter

The grilled chicken was moist and tender, well cooked and seasoned to perfection, accompanied by a light and citrusy traditional Greek salad topped with a fresh-made creamy yogurt tzatziki sauce.

Old Traditional Polish Cuisine

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Old Traditional Polish Cuisine

Old Traditional Polish Cuisine is a new truck that posts up in Midtown and Flatiron and makes delicious and authentic Polish fare such as kielbasas and pierogis.

Grzegorz Gryzlak and Przemyslaw Motyka’s Old Traditional Polish Cuisine Food Truck is a sleek new truck that offers traditional and authentic pierogi in varieties such as potato & cheese, and kraut & mushroom + the signature Grilled Kielbasa sausage. Gryzlak and Przemyslaw have been featured on CBS and in Zagat for their menu that offers throw-back homestyle comfort food. The Old Traditional Polish Cuisine Food Truck has became a destination for eaters looking for food reminiscent of their Polish grandmothers, and eaters who are new to Polish fare alike.

We ate: Grilled Kielbasa, Potato & Cheese Pierogi

Everything was 100% authentic Polish at this cute truck, including imported Polish mustard and pickles. The Grilled kielbasa sausage was beautifully browned and topped with the spicy mustard and pickle that paired extremely well with the juicy, salty and flavorful sausage. The pierogi was stuffed with light potato and cheese filling, and we promptly stuffed it in our mouths where it belongs.

Shuka Truck

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Shuka Truck

Frequent Midtown, Financial District, and Flatiron vendor Shuka Truck only prepares one thing but they do it very, very well. Their Israeli Shakshuka is made with minimal, fresh ingredients and spices, and of course, an egg poached in tomato sauce.

Shuka truck is a delicious creation that sprouted from the passion of Chef Gabriel Israel and the sharp business minds of his two partners, Josh Sharon and Solomon Tarabouli. Shuka Truck slings chef Israel’s take on shakshuka - a multitude of varieties including the traditional (the red), the green - made with asparagus and zucchini, and the white - made with smoked eggplant and seasonal mushrooms. Shuka’s offerings are available as a platter or as sandwiches. The 100% Kosher truck hovers around midtown and the financial district.

We ate: Red Shakshuka

It’s hard to imagine to make shakshuka portable, but Shuka truck did it and did it well. In a small cute bowl lays a runny egg mixed with a delicious tomato sauce base with a little cheese, grilled onions and spices mixed in. They were considerate enough to give you copious amount of bread to sop up the juices, ensuring every last drop made it to your belly.

Best of Market

The best from all the delicious markets around the city

Burmese Bites

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Burmese Bites

Burmese Bites makes delicious and authentic Burmese palatas weekly at the Queens Night Market.

Chef owner Myo Lin Thway’s Burmese Bites has been drawing crowds for his Burmese food at Queens Night Market and other markets around the city. Burmese Bites is known for their palatas - a hand stretched thin pancake - as well as Shwe Taung Kaukswe (noodles salad), vegetable fritters and shaved ice. Thway was convinced by a fan to open his business after making palatas for a church fundraiser where they were a crowd pleaser, and has been serving his burmese food, something that’s surprisingly hard to come by in this large city, since!

We ate: Keema Palata

The Keema Palata had delicious and flavorful chicken stuffed into a thin handmade palata pancake along with onions, fresh cilantro and other spices, and a bit of egg. It was salty and savory, with the well-cooked, all-white chicken dominating the flavor and supported subtlety by the other components, all held together (literally) by the thin, grilled palata pancake. Amazing!

Carnitas El Atoradero

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Carnitas El Atoradero

Bronx’s Carnitas El Atoradero is a well-reviewed Mexican home-style cooking restaurant and a borough legend. Once operating out of a small South Bronx space, you can now find Carnitas El Atoradero at the Vendy Plaza and soon in Prospect Heights.

Shortly after the New York Times awarded Carnitas El Atoradero a “Critic’s Pick,” Denisse Lina Chavez’s landlord hiked her rent, putting her South Bronx restaurant out of business. The Times praised her authentic, homestyle Mexican cooking, as have numerous other outlets. Serious Eats called Chavez’s cooking, “the Mexican Home Cooking We’ve Been Waiting For.” Chavez’s offerings include a rotation of specials, such as mole poblano, oaxaca cheese stuffed pig trotters, and albondigas. Carnitas El Atoradero has now found a home Sundays at our own Vendy Plaza.

We ate: Castillas en Salsa Verde

The Castillas en Salsa Verde was a vibrant green taco, made from flour in front of our eyes, then grilled until it was light and puffy and filled with the delicious tomatillo-based salsa, green peppers and spices. Messy, but well worth it, this taco was the epitome of fresh.

Home Frite

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Home Frite

Smorgasburg’s Home Frite combines handcut Russet potato fries with multiple flavors of dipping aiolis that are made fresh using local, seasonal ingredients.

Home Frite is well known for their never ending line at Smorgasburg, their hand-cut french fries and inventive dipping sauces. This crowd favorite was started by Ian Vernon in his apartment test kitchen in 2013 before being joined by chef Crystal Lingle and entrepreneur Maxwell Hawk. The stand boasts an impressive array of sauces from avocado, tomatillo, arugula and greens sauce to a home-made malt vinegar aioli.

We ate: Truffle Fries with Lemon Garlic Aioli

The handcut fries were expertly cooked, somehow having a crispy exterior, light body without a ton of that greasy feel that usually accompanies a plate of fries. The truffle flavor was subtle and rich, complimented and cut by the light, citrusy aioli dipping sauce. Well done Home Frites, well done.

The Gumbo Bros

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The Gumbo Bros

The Gumbo Bros showed up with delicious, authentic Louisiana gumbo dishes such as Nanny’s Cajun Gumbo, Frenchman Street Creole Jumbo and even a tasty Voodoo Vegan Gumbo.

Upon moving to New York City, native Southerners Adam & Clay couldn’t help but notice the lack of authentic Cajun/Creole cuisine in the Big Apple. After a few years of working in and exploring the culinary scene of New York, it became clear that something had to be done! The Gumbo Bros was founded in 2014, and the Bros first began serving at the popular Madison Square Eats food festival in Madison Square Park. After a successful run, they then expanded to the Broadway Bites Food Festival at Greeley Square in Midtown and the Columbus Circle Holiday Festival in Central Park along with pop up events at music festivals and street fairs.

We ate: Voodoo Vegan Gumbo

We aren’t vegans, but this gumbo was calling out to us! Filled to the brim with collard greens, this dish felt amazingly heathy, was packed with flavor and spice and instantly transported us down to the bayou. Pair this delicious gumbo with a beignet and you may just want to move to New Orleans immediately.

Your Panadas

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Your Panadas

Your Panadas is a different type on empanada vendor, one that makes fresh empanadas made-to-order with filling that you choose on the spot, aiming to “take the "me" out of empanadas.”

For Jonathan Batista, Your Panadas is all about love. A native New Yorker, Jonathan quit his pharmacy job to start something special - a unique take on empanadas that reflects his family’s Caribbean roots. Jonathan learned to cook by watching his Panamanian grandfather and carries on that legacy today. Among his offerings are a savory curry chicken, spicy mac-n-cheese with chorizo, and the one that has everyone screaming - an ice cream empanada drizzled with dulce de leche. Your Panadas can be found every Sunday at our very own Vendy Plaza.

We ate: Beef and Chorizo Empanada

Your Panada’s freshly made empanadas had a light and crispy dough exterior expertly fried with a good texture, not too much of an oily, greasy feel, and served piping hot. Combined with a well-seasoned beef and chorizo interior and topped with spices and fresh cilantro, the empanadas were amongst the best we’ve ever had, and made fresh-to-order too!

Best of Dessert

The best sweet tastes from NYC’s street vendors

Booqoo Beignets

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Booqoo Beignets

Booqoo Beignets can be found weekly at the Vendy Plaza in Harlem, and at other select events around the City, serving up amazing puffy, fresh beignets coated in ultra fine powdered sugar.

Matt Pace, a NOLA native now residing in Brooklyn, has been eating and making beignets his entire life and developed his Booqoo Beignets recipe that woos the crowds with fluffy butteriness. For those who want the extra twist, Booqoo also serves unique caramel dipping sauces in classic NOLA flavors such as praline and chicory coffee. Matt is proud to bring one of the sweetest parts of New Orleans’ deep culinary history and culture to the rich food landscape of NYC.

We ate: Beignet with Praline Dipping Sauce

The Booqoo beignet had a perfect crispy exterior crust with with a fluffy, doughy interior, all covered with a uber-thin layer of fine powered sugar. The texture is thicker than regular donuts, but also fluffy and light at the same time. The praline sauce was a dense, sugary syrup, packing a ton of caramelly-sweetness into every drop. These beignets will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Butter & Scotch

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Butter & Scotch

Smorgasburg’s Butter & Scotch creates tasty morsels of slightly-alcoholic dessert perfection with inventive flavors like Ramos Gin Fizz Bars and Porch Swing Collins.

Maple bacon cupcakes and boozy pastries are just a small sampling of the offerings at Butter & Scotch, the creation of Keavy Blueher of Kumquat Cupcakery and Allison Kave of First Place Pies. The duo’s confections have been a hit at Smorgasburg and have garnered the attention of the New York Times to Bon Appetit and Refinery 29. The team has recently opened a bakery and bar in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights.

We ate: Ramos Gin Fizz Barr

Butter & Scotch have created an amazingly accurate take on the classic flavors of the Ramos gin fizz cocktail! The light foamy whipped cream on top pairs perfectly with a rich, tart lemon middle and a bottom crust soaked in a bit of gin and other flavors. This is a fun, decadent dessert that would impress any cocktail or dessert lover.


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Doughnuttery can be found frying up fresh doughnuts on-the-spot at Chelsea Market, and other pop-up locations all around the City. Made possible by an amazing micro donut-fryer assembly line, in 60 seconds flat you watch your made-to-order doughnut go from liquid batter to fried dough puff to sugar coated deliciousness, then just another 10 seconds for it to completely disappear!

Evan Feldman knows that people love doughnuts - a quintessential American snack that makes every customer smile - and has put a spin on his specialty by making it snacksized and impossible to resist. Doughnuttery produces small-sized cake doughnuts that pack an incredible amount of flavor in their sugary toppings - from international inspirations (try the “Paris Time” sugared with lavender, pistachio, and vanilla) to more traditional tastes (the classic cinnamon sugared doughnut). Doughnuttery can be found at markets around the city, including Chelsea Market and Broadway Bites!

We ate: Lavender Vanilla Pistachio Donut

Each mini donut is shuffled through the fryer right before your eyes, flipping automatically through each compartment, then finally dipped in an unique mixture of flavored sugars. The lavender vanilla pistachio donut was colorful and potent, packing a ton of distinct flavor into such a small package. Aromatic, light, fluffy and piping hot, these donuts were a smash hit.

Play J’s Ice Cream

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Play J Ice Cream

Play J’s Ice Cream opened this year with an inventive new way to eat soft service ice cream, serving up J-shaped cones in SoHo and the East Village.

Started earlier this summer by friends CK, Rich and Jinwon, Play J’s Ice Cream has exploded onto the food blogging world and into the hands of happy-go-lucky New Yorkers. Play J serves soft serve chocolate and vanilla ice cream in a special J shaped puffed corn cone that has taken over the South Korea ice cream scene and has a Cap’n Crunch throwback flavor. The duo’s colorful truck drives around SoHo with a side banner proclaiming that it’s “time for J’scream.” Try walking down the street with this in hand without a ton of curious looks!

We ate: Original Vanilla J

Play J’s is fun take on the traditional soft serve ice cream cone. The cone itself is light and crispy, almost like a tubular sweet rice cake, and made into the shape of a J. The hollow tube “cone” is stuffed with vanilla soft serve ice cream, chocolate or both, filled to the point where ice cream tips stick out each end. Play J’s brings back childhood nostalgia with a modern and inventive twist.

Squish Marshmallows

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Squish Marshmallows

Squish Marshmallows can be found toasting inventive marshmallow flavor combinations at food markets all around the City, including Vendy Plaza, Hester Street Fair, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar and more.

Katherine Sprung, the chef-owner of Squish Marshmallows is a former DJ, tech startup entrepreneur and currently works as a voice over artist. But her passion is creating marshmallows that bring a smile to her customers’ faces. Her marshmallows celebrate unique flavors, fulfilling every palate from childhood favorite combinations, to sophisticated, grown-up confections. Squish can be found at HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, Artist & Flea Markets, Hester Street Fair, the New Museum, and the Vendy’s own Vendy Plaza in Spanish Harlem.

We ate: S’Mores, Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Rocky Road

These square marshmallows combine a myriad of unique flavors into a toasted, bite-sized package. Our favorite was the peanut butter and jelly marshmallow, filled with bits of actual PB and J and toasted right in front of our eyes. The caramelization of the toasted edge combined with the sweet, gooey interiors to create a perfect skewered dessert.

Best Street Drink

The best drinks from NYC’s street vendors

Best Juice Uptown

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Best Juice Uptown

Best Juice Uptown is a natural, made-to-order juice cart serving fresh beverages between 184th to 207th St on Broadway in Washington Heights.

Hector Palaguachi has worked as a vendor for 6 years in Washington Heights. Originally from Ecuador, he has an interest in language and speaks a little Arabic, French, Chinese, and Korean. Hector decided to be a vendor because he wanted to be his own boss, and support his four children. The juice he will be serving is called “Morir soñando” or “to die dreaming.” Hector’s secret recipe for the traditional Dominican drink, whose name is based on a song which goes “if I have to die, I’d like to die dreaming”, includes orange juice, milk, cane sugar, and a little secret touch.

We drank: Morir Soñando

We had to compete with dozens of bees in order to get to this sweet drink. Made with combination of condensed milk, orange and lime juice freshly pressed in front of us, the delicious concoction tastes half-way between orange cream soda and a creamsicle ice cream treat. Served ice-cold, this is the perfect summer treat to quench your thirst.

Catalina’s Champurrado

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Catalina's Champurrado

Catalina’s Champurrado was a small stand with delicious, thick soup-like beverages served piping hot — a perfect compliment to any cold day.

Catalina came to NYC from Oaxaca, Mexico 16 years ago, and has spent the past year working as a tamale and drink vendor in Washington Heights, outside the 191st Street Train Station.. She enjoys cooking, which she learned from her mom back in Oaxaca, and vends to support her 5 children. Her specialty beverages are Champurrado (a chocolate-based warm and thick Mexican drink, prepared with masa de maíz) and arroz con leche (a warm milky rice drink, typically had for breakfast).

We drank: Champurrado, Arroz con Leche

The Champurrado was a delightful and unexpectedly well-paired flavor mashup with corn and chocolate. Served thick and hot, it presented more like a soup than a drink. Similar in consistency and temperature, but vastly different in flavor was the Arroz con Leche (rice with milk) which was almost like a warm bowl of tapioca pudding. Delicious and a perfect pick-me-up for a cold day to warm your bones!

CoCo & Co

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CoCo & Co

CoCo & Co whips up fresh, all-coconut smoothies using coconut milk, coconut water from 100% solar powered food bikes and carts.

The super cute tiki bike & coconut cart company CoCo & Co was started by two friends from across the globe who met in New York City. Luke McKenna, a journalist from Melbourne, Australia, and Yair Tygiel, an entrepreneur from Northern California were inspired to team up to start CoCo & Co after the success of their individual coconut carts. Luke had operated one in Toronto, and Yair had been operating one in Brooklyn. The duo’s combined operation includes an online storefront for their original spiced coconut oil and tiki carts operating around the city, such as at Vendy Plaza!, and catering private events. Coco & Co will be bringing their unique coconut meat and coconut oil smoothies to the Vendys.

We drank: Solar Powered Coconut Smoothie

Made from nothing but coconut water and coconut milk, the whipped and blended mixture is refreshing, fun and green! It brings a welcomed delicious tropical island vibe into our dense urban City.

Renegade Lemonade

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Renegade Lemonade

Smorgasburg’s Renegade Lemonade showed up with 4 delicious flavors of fresh made, locally sourced and naturally sweetened inventive lemonade flavors such as Strawberry Basil and Thai Chili Tart Cherry.

Megan Bailey started as a drink vendor initially as Smorgasburg food stand Frittering Away. One weekend Bailey began to serve a strawberry basil lemonade alongside the food and knew she was doing something right when she sold out in five minutes. In 2012, Megan Bailey branched out to her own business, renamed Renegade Lemonade, and began to focus solely on beverages. Renegade Lemonade serves inventive flavors of lemonade such as peach mint, and watermelon jalapeno. Renegade Lemonade also recently collaborated with 2014 Best Dessert winner Ice & Vice to serve ice cream floats at events such as Gay Pride and Bryant Park Movie nights.

We drank: Strawberry Basil, Thai Chili Tart Cherry, Passion Hibiscus, Peach Mint

This is no ordinary lemonade stand; get ready for some of the most innovative lemonade flavors around including Strawberry Basil and Thai Chili Tart Cherry. All 4 of the flavors we tried were amazing, naturally and lightly sweetened, packed with unique, well complimented flavors. The Thai chili has a ton of kick, the basil aromatic and sweet, the mint cutting through the peach like a ninja’s blade. Light and refreshing, we had two cups of each!

Tea and Milk

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Tea and Milk

LIC Flea’s Tea and Milk has been brewing fresh handcrafted bubble teas with natural ingredients in creative, refreshing flavors such as Hibiscus Flower Peach and Roasted Oolong.

Tea and Milk got off the ground at the LIC Flea in the summer of 2013, started by a trio of long time friends who wanted to create the perfect bubble tea. The trio tasted many other bubble teas and with making a different concept in mind, started using a unique on the spot brewing technique to make their perfect bubble tea. The ingredients are all natural and does not contain any powdered teas or concentrate. Tea and Milk eventually expanded into a variety of teas and serve over fifteen different tea beverages (including Roasted Oolong, Hibiscus Flower Peach, and Taro Milk Tea).. Through a wide support of fans and customers, the widely celebrated fixture of outdoor markets has recently expanded to a brick and mortar outpost in Astoria in 2015 and can still be found at markets across the city.

We drank: Hibiscus Flower Peach Bubble Tea

Presented in a standard bubble tea container, this drink was anything but. A delicious combination of flavors, the naturally sweet peach tea had hints of floral flavors, complimented with tiny chunks of fresh peach buried in the bottom of the cup alongside the boba.

2015 Vendy Awards Winners

After all the votes were tallied and the judges had their fill, these were the street vendors who came out on top

  1. Vendy Cup / People’s Choice: Snowday Food Truck
  2. Rookie of the Year: Coney Shack Tacos
  3. Best of Market: Home Frite
  4. Best of Dessert: Doughnuttery
  5. Best Street Drink: Renegade Lemonade

Congratulations to all the vendors who participated, you were all delicious and rightfully deserved a spot amongst the City’s best!

About the Street Vendor Project

The Vendy Awards are an annual event to benefit the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, a membership-based organization that provides advocacy and legal services for nearly 2,000 vendor members. The Vendys’ modest beginnings took place in 2005 in an East Village garage; today, the nation’s first street food event has expanded across the country to include events in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The Vendy Awards also recently launched Vendy Plaza, a lively outdoor marketplace located in East Harlem’s La Marqueta on Sundays.

Check out the event page for more info on this year’s Vendy Awards or the Street Vendor Project.

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's food scene with his Wife and the outdoors with their three dogs. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time working from a treadmill desk at home.

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