The 10 Vegan Foods You Must Try at Smorgasburg

By: Rachel

The New York Times once called Smorgasburg, the all-food spin off of the popular flea market Brooklyn Flea, “the Woodstock of eating.” We think of it more as food heaven—that is, if heaven had a lot of tents, and magically appeared in Brooklyn every Saturday and Sunday.

 

If you love food and plan on spending any time in New York this summer, you must check out Smorgasburg. With more than 100 local and regional vendors each weekend at locations in Williamsburg (Saturday) and DUMBO (Sunday), the offerings are as diverse as the city that bred it—where else can you slurp some oysters, enjoy a kimchi-and-seaweed-topped hot dog, cool off with an Indian lassi ice pop, and wash it all down with New Orleans-style cold brew coffee, all before you pick up a bottle of locally made beet ketchup for home?

Of course, if you’re avoiding meat (and especially if you’re also staying away from dairy and/or eggs), you may be wondering if Smorgasburg is worth your time. After all, this is a food market boasting animal-centric food vendors with awesomely clever (and anything-but-vegan) names like Duck Season (think lots and lots of duck fat), Carnal (“Flesh, Bone and Smoke”), Rise and Swine (sustainably-raised bacon—if you’re gonna eat it, this it the kind you want), and our favorite, Bon Chovie (“swim fast, fry young”). So will a vegan/vegetarian/flexitarian/dairy avoider find anything more interesting than French fries at Smorgasburg*?

HECK. YES.

*There are many delicious French fries at Smorgasburg. But that’s not the point—you could get those anywhere!

I spent the last two weekends exploring Smorgasburg with an intrepid group of food enthusiasts, finding our favorite vegan delicacies the market has to offer*. We’ve done the hard work of blissing out on sun and good eats to bring them to you (sigh, someone’s got to do it). Here, in no particular order, the top 10 no-animals-harmed foods you need to try when you hit up Smorgasburg this summer:

*Disclaimer: While we did our best, we didn't sample every vegan food at Smorgasburg. If we missed your favorite, please share it in the comments below!

 

 This is not a push pop. But next time, we're getting Alchemy Creamery's strawberries and cream (pictured here) in push pop form.

This is not a push pop. But next time, we're getting Alchemy Creamery's strawberries and cream (pictured here) in push pop form.

Push pops, Alchemy Creamery

Saturday + Sunday

In flavors like carrot cake, salted peanut butter, strawberries and cream, and maple walnut, these almond-, coconut- and hazelnut-based desserts will quash any ice cream craving—and just happen to be dairy-free, gluten-free, as well as certified kosher and vegan. If we had to do it again, we’d opt for our ice cream in the push pop form so you can one-hand it. Learn from our mistakes.

 

 Tofu satay and ginger lime fizz from Bamboo Bites

Tofu satay and ginger lime fizz from Bamboo Bites

Tofu Satay, Bamboo Bites

Saturday + Sunday

Who knew to-go food containers could be so pretty (and sustainable)? Bamboo Bites uses bowls made from fresh-cut bamboo, which makes an aesthetically pleasing palette for the main (vegan) attraction: A mount of sweet, sticky rice topped with skewered tofu, a sweet and savory peanut sauce, crunchy chopped cucumber and crushed peanuts. Wash it down with a refreshing ginger lime fizz!

 

 Almond milk iced chai latte for now, bottles of Dona Chai chai tea concentrate for later.

Almond milk iced chai latte for now, bottles of Dona Chai chai tea concentrate for later.

Almond milk iced chai latte, Dona Chai

Saturday

This booth primarily sells sleek bottles of chai tea concentrate, carefully crafted with cold pressed ginger, and fresh ground whole spices like cardamom, vanilla beans, and cinnamon. The good news for vegans and other dairy-avoiders: You don’t have to wait until you get home to enjoy some with your cow’s milk sub of choice. Founder Amy Rothstein has almond milk-blended chai latte on ice, ready to go (perfect refreshment for the ride home, or as a between-courses palate cleanser).

 

 A beautiful combination. The platter, from Bombay Sandwich Co.

A beautiful combination. The platter, from Bombay Sandwich Co.

Platter, Bombay Sandwich Co.

Saturday + Sunday

The colors and flavors of this combo just jump off the plate. The one downfall, for the Smorgasburg setting: Between all of the fiber-rich components:—brown rice, kale salad, chickpeas, sweet potatoes and date chutney—this sweet and savory meal is incredibly filling. Our suggestion: Share with a friend or two so you don’t have to call it quits on the taste fest after this one!

 

 There's a phatty beet patty in there somewhere. Calexico Burger from Chickpea & Olive

There's a phatty beet patty in there somewhere. Calexico Burger from Chickpea & Olive

Phatty Beet Burgers: Bacon Cheddar Ranch + Calexico, Chickpea & Olive

Saturday + Sunday

This stand’s tagline is “100% plant-based comfort food”—so you can rest easy that all of the options here, no matter how meaty and cheesy they sound—are totally vegan and vegetarian. Their beet patties make some of the tastiest veggie burgers we’ve ever had. The smoky bacon cheddar ranch (topped with eggplant “bacon”) and spicy Calexico (yummy chipotle aioli) were both out of this world. Available on a gluten-free bun, for those who need it.

 

 Love the garlic-cooked exotic mushroom option! La pate at Woezo West African.

Love the garlic-cooked exotic mushroom option! La pate at Woezo West African.

La Pate with garlic mushrooms, Woezo West African

Saturday + Sunday

Inspired by a former Peace Corps volunteer’s time in Togo, Woezo’s mission is to “serve nourishing and delicious food that invests in sustainable agriculture and gives back.” The menu contains no gluten, eggs or dairy; if you opt for a “la pate” with garlic mushrooms you’ll get a flavorful vegan plate that also includes West African polenta, ginger-stewed onions and okra, sriracha. Next time, we’re adding on a side of “koliko” fries—tropical yams with a ginger gazpacho dipping sauce.

 

 Satisfying vegan summer rolls from Lucy's Vietnamese Kitchen.

Satisfying vegan summer rolls from Lucy's Vietnamese Kitchen.

Lucy’s Summer rolls with tofu and shitake mushroom, Lucy’s Vietnamese Kitchen

Saturday + Sunday

We hit up the Sunday DUMBO market on the season’s hottest day yet, and nothing tasted better than Lucy’s rolls. Vermicelli noodles, cabbage, and thai basil along with savory tofu and mushrooms wrapped in a rice-paper wrapper and served with a sweet peanut sauce for dipping make for a refreshing but filling vegan find—perfect for a steamy summer’s day.

 

 Menu, The Regal Vegan

Menu, The Regal Vegan

Zoodles, The Regal Vegan

Saturday + Sunday

You know you’re safe at a place with a name like “The Regal Vegan”—and a bowl of zoodles (raw zucchini tossed with “superfood pesto”) provide a delicious, veggie-heavy break from heartier market fare. While you’re there, pick up a tub of faux gras for home—a savory and humane “pate” made from toasted walnuts and caramelized lentils and walnuts.

 

 Bunna Cafe's Smorgasburg meal. Photo credit: Sam Saverance

Bunna Cafe's Smorgasburg meal. Photo credit: Sam Saverance

Meal (3 items + 2 injera), Bunna Cafe

Saturday + Sunday

Have you tried Ethiopian food before? With a completely vegan menu, the Smorgasburg offshoot of this Brooklyn restaurant is your perfect opportunity. Depending on the size plate you order, you can choose from one, three, or five dishes like misir wot (red lentils cooked with spicy sauce), yatakilt alicha (cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and turmeric) and kedija selata (kale, lime, tomato, and avocado in an olive oil dressing), served on injera, an addictively good sourdough flatbread that you use in place of utensils for scooping up your meal. Again, because of the fills-you-up factor, we recommend sharing with a friend.

 

 Vegan charcuterie at Charlito's Cocina

Vegan charcuterie at Charlito's Cocina

Fig salami, Charlito’s Cocina

Saturday

This is one salami you don’t have to say “so long” to if you’re off meat. Made from dried figs, the flavor is unlike any cold cut you’ve ever had (which may be a good thing for most vegheads), but is something fabulously different—kind of like a 100x better Fig Newton without the cookie part. It’s also utterly worth the $10 price tag simply for the opportunity to pull a “gotcha” on your friends—it looks exactly like a true salami! Would pair fabulously with a nut-based cheese like Treeline Cheese, though it’s a super tasty snack all by itself, too.

 

Honorable mentions:

 

Best new take on an old classic: Kelvin Slush Company

Saturday + Sunday

Expect lines for frozen drinks in flavors like tangy citrus and Arnold Palmer with real fruit mix-ins like lychee, apricot, and papaya.

 

Best vegetarian (but not vegan) treat: Lumpia Shack

Saturday + Sunday

These Filipino spring rolls tend to be filled with meat of some sort, so we had to give a shout out to this spot’s vegetarian (contains egg) truffled adobo mushroom lumpia.   

 

Best phony baloney: Monk’s Meats

Saturday + Sunday

Vegan chimichurri and bahn mi, among other things.

 

Best fancy spin on a veg standard: The 3 Nuts

Saturday (you can buy the peanut butter to go on Sundays)

Sure, you can go home and make peanut butter and jelly. But a completely vegan cookie dough peanut butter with strawberries sandwich? Didn’t think so.

 

So now you know what to eat. But what else do you need to now about Smorgasburg? Here are a few tips:

  • Bring cash. Many stalls don’t take credit cards, and while there are ATMs onsite and nearby, you won't want to wait on line or pay bank fees.
  • The best way to get there from Manhattan: NY Waterway’s East River Ferry from Pier 11 (near South Street Seaport) or 34th Street to the neighborhood of each market; find details at Smorgasburg’s directions page.
  • Start early to beat the crowds (and get popular foods before they sell out, which many do).
  • Don’t be surprised by the prices. This isn’t necessarily a cheap day out—a meal served in a paper cup that you eat while pushing your way through crowds might cost as much as one at a restaurant with air conditioning and table service.
  • Divide and conquer. Both sites have limited seating, but it’s not impossible to find a place to park yourself. Have a friend stake out a picnic table while you buy your meal, and then trade.
  • Come hungry. But you knew that already.

So what did we miss? What are your favorite vegan eats at Smorgasburg?