Sundays in Harlem: Vendy Plaza at La Marqueta Retoña (Oct 26th thru Nov 23rd)

Vendy Plaza Sign Looking for something fun, filling, and fantastic to do for the next two Sundays in November? If you’re Uptown and you have a free moment between the hours of 12pm and 6pm on November 16th or 23rd, grab a crew of eaters and go to Vendy Plaza at La Marqueta Retoña (at E 116th St and Park Ave).  Vendy Plaza is a month long celebration of all of the most amazing food trucks that NYC has to offer (and that won some pretty amazing accolades at the 2014 Vendys).   In addition to food there are specialty drinks, and some great beer and mulled wine choices  in Uptown’s coolest up-and-coming open air market.
All different types of Culinary Magic come out of those tiny kitchens stacked on top of four thick wheels, so my awe and appreciation for Food Trucks run deep.  I am constantly fascinated by the eco-friendly to-go boxes overflowing with the deep fried, or slow roasted, or baked, or sous vide creative genius of a budding (or veteran) chef brave enough to serve their food to you with their own two hands.  More often than not you aren’t just getting a flavorful meal or snack, you are the sampling the tastiest morsels of the chef’s memory at any location in New York where they feel like parking for the day.  As a long time lover of Food Trucks, I rushed to Vendy Plaza to nosh and nibble on all of the treats both this Sunday and last (and every Sunday through November 23rd).
Full Vendy PlazaYou can enter Vendy Plaza on the south side of 116th St right under the MetroNorth tracks on Park Ave.  Directly opposite the Urban Garden Center (where you can also pick up a bunch of fresh local vegetables from Grow NYC’s Farm Stand), as soon as you walk into the open air market, you won’t know where to go first.  As Gluten Free Eater I was expecting my options to be limited, but almost every vendor (except Nuchas and Khao Mann Gai) had something that I could sample.  I walked out of Vendy Plaza with a full bag of goodies, and am looking forward to going back early next Sunday so I can finally try Ice & Vice’s out-of-the-ordinary ice cream concoctions.  Major Score.  Let the eating begin!
Snowday Head Chef taking an OrderIf all of the food trucks at Vendy Plaza were in yet another competition, my absolute favorite would be Snowday Food Truck.  I am kind of obsessed with this food truck and we’ve only known each other for a week.  Not only did they offer the most gluten free options at the Plaza made from locally sourced ingredients, they are Snowday Driving Change TruckDrive Change’s very first Food Truck with an amazing mission (read Snowday’s full story).  I got the fried brussels sprouts with pulled pork (aka two of my most favorite foods in life, ever) for a super affordable price–and after I brought them home and begrudgingly shared a few bites with Keith, there is no question in my mind why this talented team of young chefs just won “Rookie of the Year” at the 2014 Vendy Awards.
Every bit as good as all of the other fried brussels sprouts I have eaten, and the pork was tender, smokey, and full of slow-cooked meaty flavor.  The pork was drizzled with a creamy sauce and piled on top of crunchy (totally not get-in-shape-for-your-wedding-friendly) fried brussels sprouts.  This dish would have run the risk of being a tiny bit too rich had it not been mixed with crisp fresh apples and parsley, but the local apples gave it just enough crisp tartness that everything came together beautifully.  The awesome guys manning this magical food truck gave me a sample of their signature sweet and spicy Maple Hot Sauce that didn’t disappoint.

Pulled Pork and Fried Brussels Sprouts from Snowday Truck 2nd DayGluten Free Pulled Pork and Fried Brussels Sprouts from Snowday Food Truck(@snowdaytruck)

Kao Man Gai Menu and offerings

Tom Yum Noodles and Organic Wings from Khao Man Gai (@KhaoManGaiNY) PLEASE NOTE:  Khao Man Gai had really pretty food, but none of it was Gluten Free

Thai Iced Tea at Kao Man GaiThai Iced Tea from Khao Man Gai (@KhaoManGaiNY)

Desi Food Truck

Desi Food Truck at Vendy PlazaChicken Tikka Masala from Desai TruckGluten Free Chicken Tikka Masala from Desi Food Truck

Lentil Soup from Brooklyn Born

Gluten Free Lentil Soup from Brooklyn Born Food (@BklynBornFood)

Lemonade drinks from Frittering Away

Lemonades and Ciders from Frittering Away (@fritteringaway1).  I tried the Apricot Ginger Lemonade and it was tangy, sweet, warm, and delicious!

mushroom quesadilla

Gluten Free Mushroom Quesadilla with all of the fixings from Martha’s Gorditas & Quesadillas.  This Quesadilla crew was hand-making all maize tortillas right there in Vendy Plaza, and they didn’t disappoint!

Mole Tamale from Carmen's Tamales

Gluten Free Mole Tamales from Carmen’s Tamales

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