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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Red Hook'd: Changes '08

As you probably know, the Red Hook Ball Fields food vendors are back. We headed down last weekend to survey the changes and report back. Some things to bear in mind:

  • Different look, same food. Trucks have replaced the tents, prices have increased ever-so-slightly, and not everyone has returned, but the food remains the same.
  • Not everyone is back. There are two confirmed casualties: Carcamo Honduran and, sadly, Hernandez HuarachesOchoa Guatemalan and Soler Dominican were also no-shows, although Mr. Soler is selling at Brooklyn Flea and hopes to return to the Soccer Fields before the summer's end. Perez Tacos and Sosa Fruits had truck-compliance issues, but both will make flavorful returns this weekend.
  • The vendors have lost a lot of money. Those fancy new trucks you see came at an average of $40,000 (including repairs to pass inspection), and the delayed start date (as vendors worked to pass inspection) set them back quite a bit. So eat up.
  • Lines. Lots of people showed up ready to eat, but decreased space and staffing (you can only fit so many in a truck) yielded increased waiting times: about half an hour for an elote, and double for a huarache. So go with a group and hit the lines strategically.
  • Trucks. Did I mention the trucks? An eclectic armada of city-approved mobile units have replaced the open-air tents of years past. We predict a learning curve, as vendors and customers alike adapt to the changes. But the trucks and carts (purchased from here to Georgia) had a nice, appropriately eclectic feel.
  • Expanded opportunities. These permits are year-round, and the wheels are turning on expanding hours. Ideas tossed around thus far: outdoor film screenings and concerts at the park. Shoot the vendors an email if you want to see either.
But enough chat. Chew on the pics below, get a feel for the new digs, then head on down...
I'm pretty proud of this picture: after years of trying I finally caught everyone's favorite fruit man smiling on camera. Mr. and Ms. Sosa will be back in full swing this week, so head on down and grab some chile mango con limon.
Mr. Rojas, styling and profiling outside his new cart... which he made himself. It has everything from plumbing to freezer to deep fryer, and fits two. Don't forget to try a meat empanada (tender beef stuffed with onions, olives and eggs) if they haven't sold out.
The last (huarache) man standing, Mr. Martinez drew huge crowds with his delicious carne asada and spicy pork.
The first name in Pupusas, Janet Lainez and her father were all smiles outside their new truck.
John flew the Colombian flag as the Cerons grilled juicy skewers and steaks inside.
Ms. Carello was non-stop at the fryer, making empanadas and taquitos.
And the Vaqueros were hard at work making elotes inside their new truck. Note the fly custom flames.
Cesar Fuentes dropped some knowledge at Sunday's press conference, whilst getting eye-humped by Senator Schumer. Schumer is probably thinking “I wish I had a taco right now!” (He really likes tacos.)
Pete Morales (left), the “Mayor of Red Hook,” with Daniel Wiley (Community Coordinator for Congresswoman Velazquez). If you ever see Pete around stop and talk to him. Having lived in Red Hook more than 60 years, dude is a wealth of knowledge. He also has a very balanced perspective, and has seen his community weather plenty of storms. He reminisced about everything from swimming at the Valentino peers, to Red Hook Park when it was known as “Lover's Lane” and really heated up at nights.
There were plenty of cops and signs, making sure things were in order.
And plenty of kids and tacos.

Yeah... tacos. Tacos! Mmmm... tacos.



Anonymous colleen said...

My boyfriends parents, who live in Cologne, Germany, somehow heard about the Red Hook food vendors, and they're all ready to visit the next time that they're in NYC.

Incidentally, I just heard about a Sunset Park Chinatown. Didn't know. Anyplace worth trying?

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Erin said...

Nice to run into you on the street the other day and hope to see you & the wife down at the ballfields! Last summer I was there just about every weekend; this summer, we will have to see, about those lines....

12:38 PM  
Blogger guy2k said...

No more Hernandez Huaraches?!? That's terrible news! To my palate, they were the clear winner of the two at the ballfields, and their carne enchilada was some of the best in the city. Any idea if they are cooking anywhere else?

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i didn't see perez tacos last saturday (the 26th) did i just miss them or are they still having some problems with the trucks?

had the best time though despite the wait!

7:23 PM  
Blogger J. Slab said...

it totally sucks that Hernandez Huaraches is out this year; she knows how to spice a mean pork. what's worse, she's not cooking anywhere now... BUT it sounds like they might be back in 2009... i'll keep you posted as developments arise

and yeah, both Perez Tacos and Ochoa Guatemalan are scheduled to make their returns this weekend. assuming the trucks are up to city-speed.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous JO said...

Looks pretty good. Originally I wasnt intending on coming down this summer, but it looks like they are getting their stuff together. Creating more purposes for the park is a great idea, hmmm, what could we do??

9:56 PM  
Blogger J. Slab said...

JO, its definitely a work in progress as everyone adjusts. but the upside is high -- year-round permits = opportunity to get movies, music etc. going. "friday night taco drive-in," or something like that.

and actually, Julius Spiegel (Brooklyn Parks Commissioner) was way enthusiastic about the idea. with some organization/initiative/interest, this can happen.

if anyone has any thoughts i'm all ears....

12:09 AM  

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