The Best New Street Food Vendors in New York City, According to the Vendy Awards

Meet this year's finalists. 

Photo: Instagram/malai_icecream

It's almost time for New York City's biggest street food showdown—the Vendy Awards. On September 22, the most popular food trucks in the five boroughs—Burmese palata from Long Island City, souvlaki from Astoria, shaved ice from Canal Street—will head to Governor's Island to compete for the coveted Vendy Cup and face off in categories like Best Dessert, Best Market Vendor, and Best Breakfast (a new honor this year).

While the winners are chosen by attendees (and a panel of celebrity judges), the 25 semi-finalists were determined by public nominations. One category to keep an eye on: Best Rookie Vendor, or the buzziest new food trucks in New York City. We've included a quick primer on the five nominees below, but, if you want to try all of their offerings in one day without wearing out your metro card, we suggest stopping by the cook-off (tickets are available here).

JAK! Chinese

This Taiwanese food truck serves up traditional lunchbox (or "bien dang”) dishes—usually a fried chicken leg or pork chop over veggies, a tea leaf egg, and minced pork sauce. JAK! is a combination of the three owners’ names: Joseph, Alden, and Kristy, who, adorably, all met in fourth grade.


Afghan-American entrepreneur Mo Rahmati noticed that while there's a large community of Afghan street vendors in NYC, most of them sell coffee and bagels and not traditional Afghan food. He set out to change that with Nansense, which offers everything from kormas and salata to his favorite, mantu (steamed dumplings stuffed with beef and onions).

Makina Cafe

It's hard to miss this bright yellow Eritrean-Ethiopian food truck. Makina takes a build-your-own-meal approach to street food, offering a choice of beef, chicken or veggies served over injera (thin, sourdough flatbread) or yellow rice. Meals also include two vegan sides, like gomen (collard greens) or miser (spiced whole red lentil stew).

Mr. Khao Man Gai

The Thai dish khao man gai—a simple poached chicken served with ginger and garlic—is the cart’s namesake, as well as its signature meal.

Manhattan Mediterranean

This Turkish food cart in Lower Manhattan specializes in made-from-scratch staples like gozleme, kofta, hummus, lentil soup, and zucchini pancakes.

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