Photo: Holly Northrop, Flickr
New York City has hundreds of street food carts and trucks, but only five were selected Monday as finalists for the sixth annual Vendy Awards, which will take place September 25th on Governors Island. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice League, a non-profit that provides vendors with legal representation and advocacy. One tax deductible $85 ticket buys you all-you-can-eat access to food from each of the finalists' carts and the opportunity to vote for the People's Choice Award, the Dessert Vendor of the Year and the Rookie Vendor of the Year. But the finalists, competing for nothing more than the heralded Vendy Cup and a chance at increased post-event success, are the real draw.
After the jump, vitals on each finalist so you can start scouting the competition ...
El Rey Del Sabor
Spanish for "King of Flavor," this Mexican cart specializing in Pueblan cuisine, makes its first Vendys appearance riding the popularity of its griddle-cooked chalupas filled with meat, sour cream and cheese; fresh tacos; and frijoles (bean) topped sopes all covered with their homemade sauces. E 49th St and Park Ave (additional locations: E 60th St and Third Ave; 43rd St and Sixth Ave). Daily 11:30am–3am. Average menu item: $4.)
King of Falafel & Shwarma
Hopefully the third time is the charm for two time Vendys finalist Fares "Freddy" Zeidaies, the self proclaimed "King of Falafel." After falling short in 2009 and 2007, Freddy returns from Astoria, Queens with his one-of-a-kind personality, uniquely oblong falafel and platter of chicken over rice with pickled turnips. 30th St and Broadway, Astoria, Queens. Mon–Sat 11am–11pm. Average menu item: $7.
Schnitzel and Things
The 2009 Vendys Rookie of the Year enters the top ranks with its style of Austrian food with a twist. All schnitzel – hand pounded, tenderized breaded cutlets of deep fried meat -- is coated in light, panko breadcrumbs. The "things" are delicious salads made fresh daily -- the most popular are the Austrian potato and the cucumber. Visit schnitzelandthings.com or check the truck's Twitter feed (@schnitzeltruck) for daily locations. Average main course: $9
Creating gourmet, restaurant-style food in a truck is no easy feat, especially without formal culinary training. But that's exactly what first time Vendy finalist Yassir Raouli has accomplished with his Bistro Truck. Specializing in Moroccan-Mediterranean food, Raouli draws crowds with his burgers, Dijon chicken over couscous and tender lamb Marrakesh. Fifth Ave between 16th and 17th Sts (800-290-4924). Mon–Sat 11:30am–7pm. Average menu item: $6.
Patacon Pisao (El Dugout)
Venezuelan street food makes its first appearance in the Vendys. The specialty is patacon: your choice of savory, shredded meat topped with lettuce, tomato and a special sauce all wedged between two fried disks of flattened plantain. Patacon Pisao is also known for their cachapas, a griddled corn pancake studded with corn kernels and stuffed with cheese. 413 W 202nd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves. Daily 7pm–6am. Average sandwich: $4.