On summer days of yore, the food market Smorgasburg would regularly attract nearly 30,000 visitors to their two Brooklyn sites, in Williamsburg and Prospect Park, serving a vast array of dishes from some 100 vendors.
Obviously, wading into "old" Smorgasburg's perpetually jam-packed aisles would be a terrible idea right now, but co-founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler have spent the last four months trying to figure out the best, safest way to get their vendors back to work. And so, opening yesterday and running seven days a week into October, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., we have what they're calling Smorg To Go.
Here's how it works. Each week Smorg To Go will feature ten different vendors, who do all of their cooking at booths set up behind a fence in a gravelly vacant lot on North 6th Street and Kent Avenue. The public is not allowed onto the lot; instead you order from a vendor via the Smorg to Go website, and pick up your bagged-up dishes at the entrance when summoned by a "your food is ready" text.
There's no Smorgasburg-provided outdoor seating — a couple of parking spaces have been secured with fake shrubbery as an expanded waiting area — but you're only a block or two away from Marsha P. Johnson State Park, the market's usual summertime home, which has tons of space, lots of picnic tables, and lovely sunset views. And when it's too hot to sit in the sun, you can also grab a spot at the North 5th Street Pier and Park, tucked away amid the luxury residences on the water with benches, turf lawns, and ample shade.
The ten vendors starting things off include three Smorgasburg newcomers: Mai Bpen Rai, slinging Thai papaya salads from longtime Fatty Crab chef Kris Olbrich; a Korean barbecue outfit called #Gogi run by SangJin Park, who also has a seafood restaurant, Dong Won, in Flushing; and Tali Ovadia's Portland import Whole Bowl, which sells her signature rice, beans, and sauce vegetarian dish.
Also available during week one are the simple and sublime Burger Supremes at Burger Supreme, fat dumplings at Mao's Bao, terrific jerked meat at Excell Kingston Eatery, sandwiches at Berg's Pastrami, and Mexican-style corn on a stick at Vaquero Elotes, which also serves a variety of fresh juices and homemade horchata
Lobsterdamus is here as well, though without their dramatic whole-crustacean presentations. Instead you can get their more portable Lobster Nachos and Lobster Truffle Fries. And for dessert, the brand new Good Batch Creamery has a trio of ice cream-cookie sandwiches, including a highly-recommended Brownie Caramel Vanilla concoction.
Next Monday a whole new crew comes in and, in fact, Demby told Gothamist that they've booked up weeks three and four as well. "Everyone has been extremely excited to get back to work," he said. Demby and Butler are also looking to open a second Smorg To Go in the coming weeks — they wouldn't tell me exactly where, not wanting to jinx it, but it's near a former Smorgasburg spot — and if everything works out with the first two, ideally they could have these pop ups in locations throughout the city.
Smorg To Go is located at 51 North 6th Street, at the corner of Kent Avenue, and is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m for takeout only (smorgasburg.com)