Antiques juxtaposed the lines of people waiting for the Yankee Doodle Dandy food truck's chicken fingers, part of a dozen that served the crowds at NYC Food Truck Fest at Grand Bazaar NYC on the Upper West Side on Sunday, March 12. Photo: Emily Ziemski
Customers wait to order from the Mac Truck, a food truck serving mac-and-cheese. The truck was part of a dozen that served the crowds at NYC Food Truck Fest at Grand Bazaar NYC on the Upper West Side on Sunday. Photo: Emily Ziemski
The hungry congregated at the colorful Stuf'd truck, waiting for orders of the rig's renown French toasts at the NYC Food Truck Fest at Grand Bazaar NYC on the Upper West Side on Sunday, March 12. Photo: Emily Ziemski
City’s best truck grub makes a stop to benefit local public schools
BY EMILY ZIEMSKI
To a New Yorker, a long line is the sign of something worth waiting for. This proved true Sunday afternoon, when below-freezing temperatures and long waits couldn’t deter the masses waiting to get a taste of some of the best food trucks in New York.
The NYC Food Truck Fest, hosted by Grand Bazaar NYC and The New York Food Truck Association, showcased a dozen colorful trucks on the school playground at West 77th Street and Columbus Avenue. The playground is usually devoted on Sundays to the white tents, haphazard collections of antiques, ornamental rugs and vibrant costume jewelry of Grand Bazaar NYC, an Upper West Side staple that moved all of its artisan flea market finds inside the school building, so the moveable feast could take over the playground.
Some passer-by ambled in on a whim. Other people came with a plan. Steve Ko a self-proclaimed foodie who works in marketing, arrived when the gates opened, at 10 a.m., and made a beeline for his favorite.
“Obviously there was no line in the morning for Luke’s Lobster, so I just jumped over there because they were the first ones open,” said Ko, who was bouncing anxiously on his toes while waiting for his order from the Gorilla Cheese NYC truck: a sandwich with gooey mozzarella and fresh tomato. “This is my fourth truck I think, and I’m excited for warm cheese.”
Many at the fest spent more time waiting for food — up to an hour in line — that actually eating. A few tables were scattered across the playground, but the hungry simply plopped down on the playground, treats in hand.
Sitting cross-legged in the middle of a basketball court, Jennifer Jacobs and Hailey Meyers said they had waited 25 minutes to be able to dig into fries doused with Sriracha, along with fragrant, sweet honey chili pork from Sweet Chilli. They allowed that was a reasonable wait. “It’s nice to sit, because we waited close to an hour for some French toast,” said Jacobs, pausing from licking her fingers.
That was for a taste of Stuf’d, a truck that served only French toast. “Oh, that was a S’mores,” Meyers said, pointing to an empty carton that had a thick, caramel-colored, maple dulce de leche glaze oozing over the sides. “It was definitely worth the wait.”
The biggest line of the day was hands-down for Luke’s Lobster, with, at one time, an hour-plus wait for lobster rolls and other seafood delights. “We’ve only been waiting 20 minutes,” said Andrew Bikman. “But I really only came here for Luke’s.”
Amid the blustery weather, many people decided the hotter the food, the better. “Yeah, I don’t think I could eat anything that’s not hot right now,” said Michaela Bentivolio, a friend of Bikman’s. They had plans to stop at the two trucks sandwiching Luke’s — The Mac Truck, for some classic mac-and-cheese, and Empanada Sonata, for some spicy empanadas al pastor.
Nestled in a corner of the playground, cooks within the Yankee Doodle Dandy truck, an eye-catching blue rig speckled with red and white stars, fried up crisp chicken tenders boasted about on the top of the truck’s awning.
Other highlights included perfectly greasy cheesesteaks from Carl’s Steaks, Souvlaki GR’s Greek fries — doused heavily in feta cheese — and Big D’s Grub Truck’s kimchi-laden bulgogi — a spicy Korean dish with thinly sliced beef. Big D’s can normally be found serving the Hell’s Kitchen community on Wednesday afternoons.
While entry to the event was free, all profits were donated to local public schools, including P.S. 87, P.S. 334, P.S. 452 and The Computer School, some of which are at or in the vicinity of 77th and Columbus. Grand Bazaar NYC, which has been hosted inside the building since 1982, was set up originally as a weekly yard sale to raise funds for Upper West Side schools.
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