Trendy, drool-worthy photos of food from Smorgasburg invade Instagram every summer. Since 2011, this outdoor food market has served as a platform for restaurants to promote their classic favorites as well as launch new photogenic inventions to bring in the crowds. With throngs of hungry customers comes the opportunity for a nice profit…. if people will pay it, they will charge it.
In our Southeast Asia travels, being frugal was easy with offensively cheap street food. Fresh Pad Thai was $1, explosively flavorful Pho was $2, and we could get a whole freshly prepared fish for just $5! Food markets and “street food” in New York are quite different. Prices are higher and food quality tends to be worse. Still, we are drawn to food markets like a moth to s flame, so the Frugal Foodies decided to set out to see if the hype and price tag of Smorgasburg was worthwhile. I strapped on my fanny pack and Jeremy picked out his party shirt and we set off to Prospect Park to spend the money and asses the food so you don’t have to.
Let Sunday Funday commence!
Stop One: Pizza Cupcake
Pizza is great. Cupcakes are great. But is a pizza cupcake? It certainly sounds delicious, but are two palm sized cups of bread stuffed with cheese worth $7 (or 1 for $5 if paying in cash)?
The outer “crust” lacked a crispness and was too bready for our liking. There wasn’t quite enough marinara, but there was a solid serving of mozzarella that made for a nice cheese pull. At the end of the day, cheese and bread will always be yummy, but go get a NY slice instead.
Stop Two: WOWfull!
I’m on a mission to get Jeremy to like Chicken and Waffles, a dish that doesn’t exist in Australia. When facetiming with his sister, she was appalled by the very idea of it. So we obviously had to get a $13 bubble waffle cone filled with fried chicken with a spicy honey drizzle. Not to mention, the brand has almost 44K followers on Instagram.
Bubble waffles have a delicious balance of crisp and soft, and I’m surprised the Asian trend isn’t more prevalent in NYC (I’m glad to see Japanese pancakes are being more popular because they are amazing….) Wowful’s recipe has a yummy sweetness level that isn’t overbearing and a texture that isn’t too heavy. The chicken wasn’t too breaded and was fried to perfection, making for juicy, tender meat inside. A spicy honey drizzle brought it all together. The savory/sweet ratio was spot on, and the product is delicious.
But is it worth $13? Maybe…..
$13 is cheaper than most chicken and waffles brunch entrees in restaurants, so if this is your Sunday brunch outing, yes. If it is a snack prior to another Smorgasburg eat, no.
Stop Three:Ramen Burger
Ramen is great, and someone had the ingenious idea of making it into a bun to create a ramen burger. The trend took the internet by storm in 2013 with the never seen before concept. The product tastes exactly how it sounds; a burger patty with ramen noodles and Asian flavoring. Ours was a bit heavy on the soy sauce with an overwhelming salty taste, and there was no crispy component, making each bite too mushy. The patty itself was unremarkable, and the ramen noodles tasted like, well, ramen noodles.
Innovative? Yes. Worth $12? No.
Stop Four: Big Mozz
Creative food ideas are great for the gram and quick spurts of fame, but the tastiest foods that stand the test of time tend to be the well-done classics, and Big Mozz is a perfect example. Their sticks have a delectable crunchy coat seasoned with parsley, garlic, and Percorino Romano which wraps around fresh mozzarella that stretches for days. When dipped into the house made marinara, you get a killer flavor explosion with all the right textures to form a perfect bite.
Worth the $10? We think so.
Instagramability: 10/10 (hello cheese pull!)
Stop Five: Mighty Quinns BBQ
We are carnivores to the bone, and we couldn’t pass up trying out one of Mighty Quinns famous brisket sandwiches. Not to mention, it was Labor Day weekend, so BBQ seemed fitting. $12 later, we were served a slightly toasted bun with mostly fatty meat and a pile of flavorless coleslaw. In typical Katie Jeremy fashion, we picked out the good parts of the meat and chucked the rest. It was certainly not worth the stomach space and money.
Worth the $12? Nope!
Wrapping it all up
While Smorgasburg can make for a fun outdoor activity with family and friends, it’s ultimately a haven for over-priced, trendy food that is friendlier for the follower count than taste buds and wallet. Stopping by a grocery store or bodega and picking up picnic supplies for a fun day in the sun is far more cost efficient, healthier, and maybe even tastier! To go the extra frugal mile, make your own picnic smorgasbord at home.
If you do decide to go to Smorgasburg, here are our final tips to get the most bang for your buck:
· Don’t come hungry, because it is expensive to fill up.
· Do a lap before pulling the trigger and be sure to eye what everyone else is eating.
· Go with a friend to get a couple things to share.
· Bring a water bottle because there are refillable stations and drinks at the stalls are expensive.
Happy eating, and remember, stay frugal!