Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in the country with locations in Williamsburg and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It opened in 2011 and there are more than 100 local vendors each weekend. It’s definitely worth visiting if you have never been, however it can be overwhelming if you do not navigate it properly. I have been many times over the past couple of years and have learned a few lessons. Personally, I prefer the Williamsburg location because it’s more convenient from where I live, and other reasons that I will get into. Here are my tips:
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it makes a world of a difference when you show up right when Smorgasburg opens at 11am. The first time I visited, I was on the hunt for the ramen burger and showed up at 12pm or so. There was already a line and I waited for 20 minutes. The peak hours are definitely around 2pm, and it is miserable to push through the crowds. So, if there is something specific you want to try, get there right when it opens. Last year, when that raindrop cake came out and it was incredibly popular, I showed up 10 minutes before Smorgasburg opened and actually ran to the booth to get my hands on one. Here is the picture to prove it!
Do your research.
Smorgasburg can be overwhelming if you go in without wanting something in particular. I recommend reading through websites like Time Out New York to view their guides, or just go on Instagram and look through the photos tagged in Smorgasburg when you explore the Places tab. I shamelessly found out about new churro ice cream sandwich by Dulcinea from someone I follow on Instagram and my goal is to try it next time I go.
Scope it out.
When I go to Smorgasburg with no agenda in mind, my strategy is to always scope out the vendors by taking a lap around to look at the menus and what foods people are eating. Last time I was there, I saw a lot of people eating elote (which I love) and went on the hunt for it. I made the mistake of buying food from the first vendor I saw one of the first times I went to Smorgasburg and regretted it because I got full fast, so I didn’t get to eat everything I wanted to.
After scoping out the food, buy items one at a time and finish it before moving on to the next food. Or, one of my favorite things to do is share a plate with others. Last time I was there with my boyfriend’s family, we bought takoyaki and a ramen burger, among other plates, and shared everything because we were going to have a heavy lunch a few hours after and wanted to save our appetites. It’ll also give you a chance to figure out what tastes good and what doesn’t. For example, speaking of the raindrop cake, we tried the ube (purple sweet potato) version of it and did not like it! I do not recommend it at all, but I’m glad we all shared it so I didn’t have to finish it alone because I would not have been able to.
Familiarize yourself with the area.
Google Maps is great because you can calculate how far away a place is to a subway station, see what else is in the area, etc., and I’m going to tell you about a time I was not smart at Smorgasburg. Last year, I did not know that the location at DUMBO was no longer going to be there and that Smorgasburg had moved to Prospect Park. We had people visiting and we mistakenly took them to DUMBO on a Sunday afternoon, only to find that there was nothing but an empty lot. So, we schlepped to Prospect Park, which must’ve taken an hour by subway, and got off at Grand Army Plaza. We had no idea where it was because Prospect Park is huge, so we ended up walking from Grand Army Plaza to basically the middle of the park. I have mapped it out here so you will avoid making the same mistake that I did.
We got there at 5pm, just one hour before everything closed, and a lot of the vendors were done for the day. It was the most disappointing Smorgasburg experience I’ve ever had just because the journey to get there was not ideal.
Don’t just do it for the ‘Gram.
I once went to Smorgasburg with someone and she wanted fresh coconut water in the coconut shell just because one of her friends went and posted a photo of it. She ended up throwing most of it out because it turns out she didn’t like the taste of coconut water. But at least her photo looked good? I’m guilty of posting food pictures on my Instagram too, don’t get me wrong, but savor the moment, too. The Williamsburg locations has picnic tables near the water with amazing views of the Manhattan skyline.