If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed that the Street Food Festival was one of our last year’s favorite events, and it really only started last year. We liked the first installment so much that we drove to Brno for the Moravian version and got stuck on the highway, watching Instagrams from the event comments like “Hurry up!”, “The last fifty”, “You’re missing out if you’re not here” and so on. Oh well. First world problems.
Anyway, after a prolonged hiatus, Street Food Festival is coming back for its first installment this year, this time in the wonderful Nakladove nadrazi Zizkov freight railway station. The site, built between 1931 and 1934, is now listed as a prime example of Constructivism in architecture, and after a long dispute between the authorities, the developer and the local community, it is hopefully destined to become a cultural and educational centre as planned. It has a distinctly industrial feel and thus serves as the perfect venue for events like these: you sure don’t have the feeling you’re going to break something valuable there. It also gives you the opportunity to leave the crowded centre behind and just be with the locals for a while, tasting some good food and enjoying the cool atmosphere of the place.
The festival will be held this Sunday in what now is predicted to be scorching heat, so make sure you hydrate in between the meals. And the meals will be aplenty. Here’s what we look forward to among the many, many options.
We are burgers. Our favorite pop-up burgers in town by far. We honestly don’t know how they do it: we would have quit a long, long time before finishing our own buns, patties and everything else. These guys really make the burger from ground up and the flavor shows. And they’re different every time, which we see as a bonus.
Las Adelitas. Our favorite Mexican restaurant in town (and one of our favorite budget eats in Prague) is actually opening a new location this week, and they will celebrate at the Street Food Market. We’ll make sure we’ll stop by them, if only to have the infamous mango margaritas if they have them. Just make sure you’re enjoying them in the shade because they can be pretty tricky
No Pho. Vietnamese food with a twist will serve - as the name suggests - absolutely no Pho.
Puro Gelato. The fairly recent gelato shop will have a stand at the festival, too. We are predicting long lines here if the weather is as hot as forecasted. They are not afraid of introducing some less common flavors so we’ll see what they come up with.
Veltlin. Oh yes, we plan to spend some time over wine this Sunday because we totally deserve it. And so do you. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the Veltlin wine bar will sell a spritzer because we’ve build an appetite for it in the hot days, but the natural wines from Bogdan Trojak’s stable of winemakers will be good, anyway.
Kavovy klub. The next logical step after too much spritzer. (Yes, we have planned this through.). Kavovy klub (by the same people who run Kafe Karlin) is a staple of Prague’s farmers’ markets and they will surely be a hit at the festival, too.
Albrecht circus. Pizza Napoletana from a stone oven… transported by car on a trailer. How crazy is that? Let’s hope it does not crack on the way. We may have had reservations to their pizza we had recently, but are big fans of the idea and we’re sure they will work it out.
Cimes deli. A flying Jewish deli by one of the former organizers of the event will offer some Middle Eastern classics and mezze like hummus, chatzilim, taboulah, tahini, muhammara, and more. A great choice for a hot day.
And of course, lots of hot dogs, because they seem to be replacing burgers as the hottest fast food item right now, and lots of ethnic food from anywhere from Brazil to Spain to Asia. Come early to beat the crowds, and see you there! Don’t forget to post under the #sffnnz hashtag!
June 6 post-festival update: Well, the first 2015 installment of the Street Food Festival is behind us, and it was good. Not as crowded as some may have hoped or feared, depending on whether you’re a vendor or a customer. We blame it on the extended weekend and the Carlsbad Film Festival. Also, we guess many were turned away by the scorching heat this Sunday. We actually occupied a strategic position next to a water sprinkler. Had to fight a few labradors for it, but we did ultimately prevail. The sprinkler was vital, and a highlight.
We thought we would be unable to eat because of the heat but we suffered through it, we guess. The king of the show were, of course, the ice-cream stands. We thought they would sell out in an hour, but they did have backup supplies so they did last through the day. We kicked the day off with Aperol Spritz sorbet and prosecco by Tri kopecky. Very refreshing. The blueberry and sour cream gelato by Puro gelato was very nice but we through it could use a bit more… blueberries. Finally, Nice Pops served some great watermelon frozen pop. We really liked the lime cream cheese a lot.
We again fell in love with the burgers by We are burgers. They nearly always steal the show with the cool factor and the organization: two “front managers” taking orders and expediting, two guys doing the burgers and a posse of friends helping. Also, they has a water-pump sprayer, which was a huge bonus. They served a pea and mint burger and a zucchini burger. Both of them were great (new buns with flour from the Praktika bakery) but if we had to choose, we'd go with the zucchini.
We also had the Vietnamese-style mini hot dog by the Hot God stand, and we liked it a lot, too - the hot dog itself had a coarser grind and good balance of Vietnamese-inspired flavor. The Prague Jerk Station was the coolest thing to watch, with two barrels smoking like hell. The sandwich, though, was a little less exciting. We also tasted a taco by Las Adelitas, and it was great: spicy and fatty and just plain simple yummy - the perfect street food. The tasting plate by Cimes deli was nice, we thought. A good plate of mezze. Finally, the girls at Dobre nalozeny are becoming are favorite stand: their kimchi and pickles are great. We could drink the kimchi juice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Note to self: add vodka the next time.)
There were two wine stands present: we tried Veltlin’s non-alcoholic wine by Milan Nestarec - a very refreshing wine that drank like apple juice, and in a good way. We also thought we needed to start with bubbles, and we did - a sparkling riesling sold over at half-naked Marko Jelic's Winegeek stand. We also finished the day there, with a glass of the fantastic orange Radikon. Oh, and we had coffee by Kavovy klub, of course.
The venue was fantastic: the Zizkov Freight Railway Station is a fascinating place just the way it is: rough and tough around the edges and with a distinctly industrial feel. Let’s hope it will host many food and other events in the future, too!
So, the Street Food Festival was great, and it is now over. The good - and the big - news is that the people behind it are not stopping there. From July 19 until September 13, they will be organizing the Street Food Jam, a biweekly street food festival in front of the Cross Club, the original venue of the very first Street Food Festival. And many of the good things we tasted yesterday will be there.
This is just the first step, but let’s hope it is the first of many. Prague sorely needs a forum for young, passionate chefs and food lovers. Something that we hope will later become a regular street food event similar to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, NY, the Maltby Street Market in London, or the Street Food Thursday in Berlin, for example. But for now, the Street Food Jam will have to do. And judging by yesterday and the previous installments, we think they’re going to be great, and will justify the short subway ride from the centre. See you there!