Day out for greedy foodies at Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg

It was C’s birthday last week (well, he claims the whole of May as His Month, but I try to keep it down to the week), and his brother flew over from Hong Kong to celebrate it with us. C’s brother has already seen most of the classic NY tourist spots, so we concentrated on food. The Smorgasburg, the self-styled ‘Brooklyn Flea Food Market’, was an excellent day trip for greedy foodies.

Smorgasburg at Williamsburg (Brooklyn taxis are green. Who knew?)
Smorgasburg at Williamsburg (Brooklyn taxis are green. Who knew?)

There are now four locations in New York (two new ones have just opened in Seaport and Coney Island), and the two Brooklyn spots are well established. The v trendy Williamsburg neighborhood hosts it on Saturdays, and DUMBO has it on Sundays. It makes for a great day out. Had a lovely walk along Battery Park Esplanade round to Wall Street’s Pier 11 to catch the East River Ferry across to Brooklyn. We really enjoy taking the ferry, it’s clean and pared back with plenty of space to park strollers and bikes, and the views are incredible.

The East River Ferry to Brooklyn - Smorgasburg
The East River Ferry to Brooklyn

A two minute walk from the North Williamsburg Pier, Smorgusburg sits in a large, empty lot. Roughly 150 little tents offer a huge amount of choice, which can make it tricky to make a decision. Lobster rolls, pulled pork, hand cut fries, locally made Salt Water Taffee, gourmet teas, cupcakes, ice cream, Thai, Philipino, Caribbean, Goan… Although we got there early, I took so long dithering that the crowds quickly grew, so we ended up splitting up to choose and queue for ourselves.

Based on the v scientific method of spotting the longest queues, the most popular stall was the Home Frite Hand Cut Fries. People patiently fiddled on their smart phones in the sun for 20 minutes waiting for their little brown cardboard cone of chips. They were tasty, though.

We were intrigued by the Ice Cream Sandwiches, an inch-thick disc of rock hard ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. They are enormous, so get one to share.

Having finally settled on a duck burger for me and grilled cheese sandwiches for the girls, we had to hunt down a shaded spot to eat. Some families had brought picnic blankets and were huddled up under the trees. All credit to C for finding a secret, hidden row of shaded picnic tables tucked away behind a long, white wall. They can’t be seen from the main food section, so delegate someone to head straight there to bag a table. It’s also close to the playground, so the kids can let off steam afterwards.

Picnic tables hide behind this wall... Smorgasburg
Picnic tables hide behind this wall…

Besides the riches of such tasty food choices, the highlight of this day trip are the views. The picnic and play grounds have a world class backdrop of Manhattan’s East side, with the Chrysler Building’s golden roof glinting in the afternoon sun. Just stunning.

Tips if you’re planning to do the Williamsburg Smorgasburg:
– Take the scenic route and catch the ferry from Wall Street’s Pier 11. You can safely leave your stroller inside by the bike racks, and head up to sit outside and enjoy the breeze and photogenic views
– Definitely worth arriving for 11am to beat the crowds
– There are no loos at Smorgasburg. Go to a cafe first to buy some coffee and use their facilities
– There is a secret, hidden row of picnic tables tucked away behind a six foot white wall. They can’t be seen from the main food section
– There’s a large open playground behind the picnic tables, with swings, bridges and water play so the kids can let off steam
– Once the crowds get too much/ you’ve finished stuffing your face, walk down North 8th Street to Bedford Avenue for some lovely independent shops and Williamsburg’s famous vintage flea markets

This week’s Highs & Lows:

High:
– Date night at an Ed Sheeran concert! As part of C’s birthday celebrations, we went to see Londoner Ed Sheeran at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with some friends. Haven’t been to a live concert in years, honestly, I think it was about 2007. Really enjoyed ourselves, and brilliant to have a night off.

Lows:
– Cleaning and housework frenzy brought on by rapid succession of house guests now that the weather has improved. Opening the windows up in a sky scraper is a mixed blessing – you don’t need the AC on, but you get spooky-sounding winds and ridiculous amounts of dust blown through the apartment
– Losing my cool in a supermarket when I couldn’t explain to three successive employees that I wanted to buy some butter. They couldn’t understand me, even when I tried saying “Budder”. I lost it, and walked out of the shop. Usually my English accent is a plus here, people generally respond well to it. But sometimes it is extremely annoying when you can’t make people understand. A bit of an insight into how B must feel when I can’t catch the gist of what she’s trying to tell me. (“Granola” sounds like “Funsiola”, it took ages before I realised what she wanted).

Ed Sheeran performing live at the Barclays Center, Broolyn
Ed Sheeran performing live at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

7 thoughts on “Day out for greedy foodies at Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg”

  1. Oh yum! I’m reading this at midnight in Singapore and a raid on the fridge is not cutting it after all your descriptions/pictures of the food on offer! Mighty jealous of the Ed Sheeran concert as well.

    1. Hi Sophie, glad you liked it! There’s certainly a lot of food choices here, most of them delicious but unhealthy. And the portion sizes are ridiculous, we almost always take leftovers home to eat for mid-week lunches. Take care, Alex

  2. I always love coming to your blog! It always makes me want to go back to NY, always makes me hungry and always feel like I’m getting some awesome inside knowledge!!
    This smorgasbord literally sounds like my dream place (especially right now being pregnant) it’s a good job there were crowds of people otherwise I bet it would be really easy to get carried away (would that really be a bad thing though!?)
    Thank you for sharing this with #myexpatfamily a lovely post as always 🙂

  3. I am salivating at my desk for duck burger and fries and it’s only 10am! Love the pictures – wonderful colours. Enjoy the steamy Big Apple!

    1. I know! Everything was so tempting, probably just as well there were queues, otherwise I’d have got a bit carried away

  4. I grew up on ice cream sandwiches-but they were thick oblong wedges of vanilla icecream and whilst the biscuits weren’t choc chip, rather scrummy wafer, they were always filling!

    1. Hi Jade, I remember those now! The ice cream always got slippery and you had to eat fast to stop it collapsing on to the pavement.

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