Guide to The Best NYC Food Festivals, Including Bastille Day, This Sunday July 13!

Man tending a fiery grill with hot dogs, sausage, and other meat at the Bastille Day Food Festival

The more outdoor activities the better is my motto for summer in the city. Yeah, sure, it can get hot and humid–though so far we’ve been pretty lucky–but do you remember that winter we just had? Enjoy it while you can! Roller coasters, the beachdancing, kayaking, get out there and experience this beautiful weather, New York!

These days, it seems that you can do anything outdoors if you wanted to, especially (a personal favorite) eating. From fancy picnics in the park to the explosion of sidewalk seating in recent years, al fresco dining has never been more popular in this town. And the best part of this trend? Food fairs and festivals, serving some of the best bites you’ll have all year, have become an entrenched part of the NYC dining scene. Here’s a look…

Young man in a red t-shirt takes a long look at the menu for Sammies at the Hester Street Fair

Happening All Summer Through The Fall

Although the informal outdoor gathering of neighborhood eats is an age-old NYC tradition–from the impromptu sidewalk barbecues of Inwood to the (pre-code) Red Hook Ball Field vendors–it was the Brooklyn Flea and its food-only spin-off Smorgasburg that were the pioneers of the current model: high-quality, freshly-made, locally-sourced food served at prices (and in sizes) that encourage you try several different booths each visit. Offering a sort of test kitchen to young, interesting chefs (many vendors here have gone on to open full-fledged restaurants) the Flea/Smorgasburg continues to draw monster crowds each weekend some six years after its founding, and has spawned a host of imitators, the best of which:

  • The LIC Flea and Food in Long Island City
  • The newly expanded Hester Street Fair on the Lower East Side
  • The great New Amsterdam Market, located just north of the South Street Seaport, will be open once a month through the fall as well.

Image of the street packed with New Yorkers going tent to tent at the Stone Street Oyster Festival

Annual Food Festivals Not to be Missed!

Then there are the one-time-only food festivals that are well worth seeking out, most urgently THIS SUNDAY JULY 13, when the raucous and wonderful Bastille Day block parties take over East 60th Street in Manhattan and Smith Street in Brooklyn, where Bar Tabac and crew host an amazing petanque tournament. If you like eating a ton of food, day drinking, people watching, loud French music, and lots of silly FUN, this is the place to be.

Come September, watch out for:

Image of a whole tray of donuts topped with bright pink icings

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