NYC: Food Trucks Invade South Street Seaport

Long lines were the norm at the PARKED food truck festival at the South Street Seaport last Saturday. Downtown Express - photos by Helaina N. Hovitz


Long lines were the norm at the PARKED food truck festival at the South Street Seaport last Saturday. Downtown Express - photos by Helaina N. Hovitz

Four years ago, NYC’s very first food truck festival began stealing New Yorkers’ hearts through their stomachs in Brooklyn and on Governor’s Island. Last Saturday, the PARKED festival finally made it downtown to the South Street Seaport.

An estimated 3,000 hungry foodies flocked to the Seaport for German soul food, Vietnamese barbecue, falafels, lobster rolls and five different ice cream creations. Some trucks, like Rickshaw Dumpling and Red Hook Lobster Pound, already have notoriety in New York; others, like the Gorilla Cheese Truck made their big city debut, and almost all 43 trucks sold out by the end of the day.

Creativity was not in short supply.

Dingo Fojol of Fojol Brothers, a “traveling culinary carnival,” came all the way from Washington, D.C. to serve Ethiopian food with flair. Kick-started on the day of President Obama’s inauguration, they now have 71 licensed trucks. It was their first time in New York City.

“We were humbled by the warm welcome we received from the mouths of New Yorkers, who made the 200 mile journey worthwhile,” said Fojol. “We’re culturally interested in the phenomenon of lines; they force people to slow down, interact, and get off of their Blackberries.”

Jen Lyon and Katie Longmyer, founders of MeanRedProductions, the event’s sponsor, strive to “bring unexpected moments to unconventional locations.” On Saturday, it was Anais Mitchell, Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, and the Two Man Gentleman Band. The food trucks, Lyon said, were part of the theme of talent and represented “the epitome of creativity.”

Kelvin Natural Slush Co. custom makes all-natural slushies with a series of mixers and bases. Founder Alex Rine grew up loving slushies and slurpies, but not the kind with the sweet syrup that turns your tongue blue. Currently based in the Flatiron District, they offer flavors like white peach tea and strawberry ginger at $4 a pop; the company sold 600 beverages before 4 p.m.

Especially appealing was Imagination Playground next door on Burling Slip between Front and South Streets.

“There’s a community feel down here. This is a great way to celebrate small businesses and hospitality,” said Lyon. “You get to talk to the person who takes your order and cooks your food.”

“It was the best PARKED yet,” added Longmyer. “The Seaport footprint allowed people to take their drinks throughout the space, an aspect very unique to the seaport.”

The Green Pirate Juice Truck, a PARKED veteran, learned from last year’s mistakes and came armed with twice as much cargo, and a new system of taking orders.

“New Yorkers have a ton of pride in their city’s cultural heritage and diversity,” said a Green Pirate Juice employee. “I think customers really loved the opportunity to sample a wide variety of specialty food items all at one time.”

Upper West Siders Gabriel Spatz and his wife follow the Kimichi Taco Truck on Twitter — and where it goes, they go. Gabriel enjoyed a pork taco from the truck while wife Jessica opted for a grass fed burger from Frites ‘n’ Meats. They waited 20 minutes on each line. “We waited forever, but it was worth it,” said Spatz. “You can’t get this anywhere else.”