Last week I attended a Taste of the Lower East Side. The event was held at 82 Mercer, a fabulous space located on Mercer and Spring. When I sign up to attend a food festival in New York, I usually have my high expectations shattered once I taste cold and congealed food–but not at Taste of Lower East Side. I can’t believe how fabulous the food was! Large events like these can be difficult to cater—you need massive quantities and the food needs to stay in decent shape for a few hours sans kitchen. I had high hopes for this event because I was dying to try nearly every restaurant and for once a food tasting event exceeded my expectations—TLES was a foodie’s dream.
The scene was a scene—a much fancier crowd than the Lower East Side is used to. Leave it to Manhattanites to fancy up the Lower East Side. The silent auction, which staffers promoted by walking around with iPads you could actually bid from, was not for the faint hearted—items like sporting events tickets, celebrity-autographed posters, tickets and a dinner at Rao’s made it up into the thousands of dollars! Gladly all proceeds went to the Grand Street Settlement, which provides opportunities for low-income families by providing culturally relevant services that support community and quality of life.
The food was insane. I couldn’t believe not only how delicious everything was but also how beautifully it was all presented. Several of the booths even served up signature cocktails. The portions weren’t skimpy either, I
was could have been full after about six tastings–not that this stopped me from eating at another ten! Some of my favorites are below.
Rayuela’s House Cured Salmon, which was filled with shrimp, guac and plantains was certainly more than met the eye!
The fab chefs at The General in action
The Chinese chicken tacos by The General were fantastic. The filling was made with sweet chilies, guac, cilantro and of course, chicken. They were so flavorful.
Gemma’s Seared Yellow Fin Tuna served atop Tuscan beans was simple and delicious.
Zoe, which I had never heard of served up a fried chicken biscuit with orange marmalade that was to die for. The biscuit itself was probably the best I had ever tasted but the entire thing just melted in your mouth.
Pok Pok Phat Thai served up Phat-Thai Thamadaa, which was glorious. The noodles were bathed in pork fat with tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce, peanuts, tofu, garlic, chives, bean sprouts, eggs and radish. To be fair, Pad Thai is basically my favorite food but man did I love this!
The chefs at Pok Pok Phat Thai’s secret ingredient is grooving to the music!
Mercadito’s ceviche was tart, fresh and fabulous. I loved this.
Blue Ribbon Sushi served up hand rolls that they made on the spot. I’m a sucker for spicy tuna so we definitely came back here a couple times. The quality of their fish is simply outstanding.
Veselka’s short rib pierogies blew my mind! They were absolutely delicious. The carrot cake, ehh, not so much. But I definitely came back for seconds of the dumplings!
I loved the beer and pretzel cupcakes from Prohibition bakery and the caramel pots from Beauty & Essex.
Last but not least—the kale salad from Alias was delicious! It has parmesan cheese, currants and a light vinaigrette. Yum!
The only thing that I was a little disappointed by was Mexicue’s Green Chili Mac and Cheese, which everyone raves about but never really is hot enough to be enjoyed. Does anyone else think it’s bland?
They did a great job keeping the food coming and the bars pouring. There were never any lines for anything, which I think is the most important thing at an event like this. There was also a live DJ spinning great tunes. We had a great time and even did a bit of dancing to work off some of the massive amounts of food we ate. And when I say some, I mean we probably worked off one dumpling. I will definitely attend this event again next year! Eating for a good cause? Count me in!
What’s your favorite foodie event in the city? Let us know in the comments!