New York is always on the move, so it’s fitting that our food should be, too. Perhaps that’s why the Vendy Awards have become such a name for themselves in the city’s culinary community. As the “Oscars of street food,” they’ve become the authority on must-eat mobile foodstuffs, from roving trucks to pop-up stalls and street fairs. This Saturday marks 10 years of the Vendys in the five boroughs.
From 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., this year’s finalists will converge on Governors Island, where they’ll compete in six different categories, including the ever-coveted Vendy Cup. The panel of judges also decides the top spots for the Master Cup, Rookie of the Year, Best of Market, Best Dessert and the Hero Award. Last year’s Vendy Cup went to El Olomega, Red Hook’s legendary pupusa truck — and that should come as no suprise. The Salvadoran favorite tends to set up shop along the same stretch of road (next to the neighborhood’s ball fields) as four of the past five previous Vendy Cup champions.
Even though this year’s awards are officially sold out to the general public, we’ve got a few categories of our own to add to the mix. A drum roll (and perhaps a nice, juicy drumstick) please...here are a few honors we’d like to bestow on this year’s finalists:
Most Likely to Convert a Carnivore: The Cinnamon Snail
We’ve penned much praise for this steadfast vegan food truck. Despite troubles with their truck and other temporary setbacks, they’ve continued to dish out some of the very best meatless, eggless and cheeseless fare in the city. The Thai BBQ tempeh sandwich is a perennial favorite, concocted of pickled Thai basil, red onions, arugula, smoked chili roasted peanuts and sriracha mayo on grilled spelt bread. Soldier on, little snail, we salute you.
Competing for: The Vendy Cup
Most Likely to Wield a Machete: Lechonera La Pirana
Angel Jimenez, the maestro of Lechonera La Pirana, is famous for the way he slices up his roasted pork. But few things could really outshine the meat itself. La Pirana is a fitting name for anyone lucky enough to sink their teeth into a piece of it. Yes, you will want more. Yes, you will go after that juicy morsel just like a hellbent hungry fish from the Amazon River.
Competing for: The Vendy Cup
Most Likely to Satisfy Weird Childhood Cravings: Snowday
If that scene in “Elf” where Will Ferrell dumped maple syrup on his spaghetti was oddly appealing — you’re not alone, trust us — then this is the best way to taste it for yourself, albeit without disturbing your dining companions. As a “Rookie of the Year” nominee, this new joint is drizzling genuine New York maple syrup all over its farm-to-truck menu. Mini pancake poppers? Check. Maple cheddar grilled cheese sandwich? Check. Maple bacon fried brussels sprouts? Checkity. Check. Check.
Competing for: Rookie of the Year
Most Likely to Have the Best Name Ever: Bolivian Llama Party
It’s a thing of beauty when a food stand can inspire us to throw a shindig in its honor. But what else could you possibly do after stumbling upon Bolivian Llama Party? In addition to a dose of whimsy, the folks here serve up plump salteñas (baked Bolivian-style empanadas) and homemade sodas — which also make for ideal party food, of course.
Competing for: Best of Market
Most Likely to be Wizards in Disguise: Alchemy Creamery
These guys might just make you feel like a muggle. You didn’t know the wizarding world had created a whole lineup of dairy-free, gluten-free, certified kosher vegan ice creams and push-pops? Indeed, the lucky few of us mere mortals can find them for sale at street fairs and pop-up shops around the city. In a section of their website labeled “Our Potions” (see?) they’ve got flavors ranging across the board from Almond Marzipan to Red Tea & Lime. Magical.
Competing for: Best Dessert