In addition to its impressive music lineup, first-rate people watching, and corporate-sponsored selfie bait, this weekend's inaugural Panorama Festival on Randall's Island also boasts a solid array of food options. As with all food found on festival grounds nationwide, everything's a little overpriced, and some things that might disappoint during the regular course of life taste pretty freaking delicious after hours of dancing in the sun, but overall the organizers did a great job here. A huge bonus, at least on the first day: almost no lines anywhere, even at the beer tents, at any time.
Here are a few of the highlights from the vendors I tried, in the general and VIP sections:
The most urgent must-get comes from the incomparable Ice & Vice, a Shaved Ice Sundae whose description—Grape Kool-Aid shaved ice topped with rainbow coconut flakes, toffee bits, lots of hardened dark chocolate, and a whole cone of Basic B, which is the best vanilla ice cream you will ever have in your life—doesn't even begin to do this magical creation justice. Even after the ice melts and your bowl, it all still tastes delicious. I drank the whole thing down.
If you have VIP access, a solid frozen treat choice can be found at Maman, where they took the dough from their popular chocolate chip cookie and use it to surround a slab of vanilla ice cream from McConnel's, a West Coast cult favorite. Super sugary, but a super satisfying ice cream sandwich.
And while you're luxuriating on your VIP-only chaise lounge, tuck into a boat of PitaChiuPie from the acclaimed veggie-centric restaurant Nix. The PCP is basically nachos, but the chips are baked pitas, the spicy chili is vegan, and the cheese, scallions, and sour cream all do the job that's expected of them. This is the best savory dish I devoured on the festival grounds.
A close second in the savory department came from Excell Kingston Eatery, a Williamsburg Jamaican food spot that brings some excellent Jerk Baby Back Ribs to the Panorama table. Their accompanying fried "festival" fritters, made from corn with just the right amount of sweet, are also superb.
Other dishes I tried came from Spicy Pie, a San Diego-based roadshow whose $7 slices are no threat to NYC pizza supremacy; Hebros Kitchen, with an All-the-way Mac (gloppy macaroni and cheese covered with various Mediterranean-ish meats) that's heavy enough to feed a party of four; and Loosie Rouge, who filled a Po-boy with Katz's pastrami, French fries, cheese, and hot sauce, with predictably tasty results.
On the wish list for the rest of the weekend on the Island: Jalapa Jar tacos, healthy-looking bowls from Inday, a La New Yorkina paleta or two, and on Sunday—when the Contra/Wildair crew finally arrive—their Soft Shell Crabs.
Panorama Festival General Admission and VIP tickets are still available for both today and tomorrow—here's a closer look at the grounds, what to expect once there, and your transportation options.