If you’ve ever been to New York City, then you know that there is no shortage of places to eat here. Michelin-starred, James Beard-awarded, see-and-be-seen hot spots? We have plenty. Hole-in-the-wall joints with just 20 chairs and one server? Yes, they’re here, too. One of New York City’s most-beloved eating traditions, however, takes place not inside a room or at a table, but rather behind the windows of the street carts and food trucks that line the streets of almost every neighborhood in the city.
Every summer New York comes together to celebrate the city’s best sidewalk vendors and street food of all kinds at the Vendy Awards, an afternoon food festival that brings together big-time vendors and newcomers alike to support The Street Vendor Project, “a membership-based non-profit organization that stands up for vendors’ rights.” Vendors set up shop then dish out signature plates to lines of hungry locals while entering their food in one category to win the Vendy Cup, People’s Taste Award or the title of Best Dessert, Rookie Vendor of the Year or Best Market Vendor. This year’s awards took place last weekend on Governors Island, and we were there to taste the very best bites.
Savory plates of deliciously salty and spicy Mexican tortas, all-American cheesesteaks, Asian-style noodles, meaty kebabs and more filled the outdoor space, but it was the sweeter treats, the sugary, creamy and chilled desserts that wowed us the most.
Pictured above is Melt Bakery’s Lovelet, a finger-licking-good ice cream sandwich boasting smooth cream-cheese ice cream nestled between two red velvet “meltcakes” that were soft and moist. Thanks to their crave-worthy menu of other sweet sandwiches like the Morticia, made with chocolate cookies and malted chocolate-rum ice cream, Melt Bakery scored the coveted title of Best Dessert.
Coolhaus is known for their selection of sweet and savory ice creams and cookies, and at the Vendy Awards, the truck did not disappoint. Pictured above is Bushmills Honey Whiskey Candied Bacon Ice Cream With Chocolate Chip Cookie. They add bits of bacon to rich vanilla ice cream and pair it with a crumbly cookie to create an over-the-top dessert that’s perfectly salty and sweet.
Anthony’s Italian Ices and Espresso Bar was on hand to scoop up any one of its dozens of flavors of “Old-Fashioned, Handmade Italian Ices,” like cotton candy, pink lemonade and root beer. We can’t resist cherry-flavored anything, so we just had to taste their bright-red cherry ice. Studded with bits of fruit, it was a chilly, deliciously refreshing cup.
Bright and light, the Mousson Mango Lassi Lolly from Monsieur Singh Lassi is a mini ice pop made with creamy yogurt and just-sweet-enough fruit. This brand-new company sells their signature pops and Lassi Drinks from the back of a bicycle.
2012 Vendy Award Winners
Hungry for sweets? Browse Food Network’s collection of Quick Fall Desserts to make at home tonight.
- Bobby and Michael Turned the Big Apple Into One Big Backyard BBQ at the New York City Wine & Food Festival
- Food and Theater Take Center Stage at Broadway Tastes with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
- The Stars Came Out and Gloves Came Off at Guy’s Food Fight
- Midnight in Harlem: Breakfast and Jazz with Patti LaBelle