You know you've been waiting for it -- the finalists for the Second Annual Vendy Awards have been announced! These four finalists will attend the gala event on Sunday, October 22nd from 6 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. where a panel of judges (including at least one who might be familiar to Gothamist readers) will select their favorite. The event is a fundraiser for the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center, a non-profit a nonprofit organization that provides a voice for the ten thousand people who sell their wares on the streets and sidewalks of our city. Each of the finalists will be serving food at the gala.

- Thiru "Dosa Man" Kumar, Washington Square South and Sullivan Street, Sri-Lankan style vegan fare. The Dosa Man is making a repeat performance as a Vendy finalist. Will he clinch the title this year? From his nominees: "Thiru's food is some of the most exceptional vegan fare in the city and he serves it up with a friendly, quirky, conversational attitude toward each customer. If you haven't tried them, dosas are lentil 'crepes,' filled with potatoes (the Masala variety, my favorite) or other things. I enjoy getting mine with one of his excellent mock meat drumsticks and a Ginger Beer. Thiru for president!"

2006_10_food_piedad.jpg- Piedad "the Arepa Lady" Cano, Roosevelt Avenue between 78th & 79th Streets, Queens, Colombian-style arepas. The Arepa Lady is a living legend in some food circles. Here's what her nominees had to say about her: "The arepa lady is the sweet little grandmother of the food vendor scene. Finding her is half the fun. Take the 7 train to 82nd Street - but only late on a Friday or Saturday night. She will be down underneath the subway tracks tending a grill of corn arepas. If you speak Spanish, you will be rewarded. She is the sweetest woman you have ever met. And her arepas are succulent -- crunchy on top, buttery, and oozing with cheese. A classic NYC experience!"

- "Calexico," from the Vendley brothers, Wooster and Prince, Soho, Tex-Mex style tacos, burritos, etc. These newcomers have garnered high praise: "Where to begin? Their signature dish, carne asada, is the best I've ever had. Period. Skirt steak marinated in a citrus-y, spicy sauce and grilled over an open flame - my mouth's watering just thinking about it. The smoky and sweet pulled pork tacos are better than any pork BBQ you'll get in North Carolina. And the shrimp tacos - yes, seafood from a street cart! - are excellent. Homemade salsas, cool music, nice people, and I appreciate that they keep the prices down. 3 bucks for a delicious, authentic taco - can't beat that. Calexico is the total package. The neighborhood is lucky to have them."

2006_10_food_sammy.jpg- Samiul Haque Noor from "Sammy's Halal," 73rd Street and Broadway, Queens, Halal chicken, lamb & beef over rice. This "Jackson Heights secret" may not be one for much longer: "Sammy's is the gold standard for halal food in Jackson Heights -- if he is not on the corner, something is wrong. The cart is like a community center for the neighborhood's Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani residents. Taxi drivers double park in front, youngsters drop by for a chat. Sammy oversees it all, with his calming presence. But the food is what they come for. The spices on the chicken explode in your mouth and leave you coming back for more. The red sauce will clear your sinuses - go easy on it."

Who will reign supreme? Come to the Vendys and find out for yourself. October 22nd from 6 to 8 p.m. at St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery, Second Avenue and East 10th Street; $50 admission includes food from the vendors and open bar of beer and wine. $100 VIP ticket also gets you admission to the VIP reception from 5 to 6 p.m., your name in the program as a VIP sponsor of the event, and a photo of you and the Vendy winner. Tickets available online.

To learn more about the issues that street vendors have to face on a daily basis, watch this great video on You Tube, which shows a new vendor struggling to keep her legal spot on the street.