Opening day of this season’s LIC Flea & Food was perfect for everyone who loves to eat but hates to do so with a lot of other people around. Even though the heavy rain ended right after the sixth annual, summer-long event started (conditions were cool, cloudy, and not at all unpleasant), apparently Queensfolk were intimated by the early deluge and decided to stay home.

Which is too bad! The LIC Flea & Food may lack the breadth of offerings of its Brooklyn counterpart (and obvious inspiration), but the individual small business owners here are no less talented, hard-working, and excited to share their passion (and products) with you. There was lots of good food being slung on opening day, but a few personal highlights would include:

  • The giant, gloppy-as-hell Quesadillas at What's the Dillaz. LIC natives Jesse Vasquez and Marilyn Hernandez won a Vendy award in 2017 for their cheesy, meaty monsters here, and deservedly so; the $10 Chorizo I personally devoured was a spicy, oily, deeply-satisfying delight.
  • The Donnolis at the Cake King of Queens. These are like jumbo cream-filled cannolis, except that the shell is soft, deep-fried dough and everything's buried under over-the-top glazes and treats (Cocoa Puffs, Oreos, Fruity Pebbles, Bacon). They cost $8 but can easily feed a small town.
  • The Seoul Sammy at Memphis Seoul (“Southern cookin’.... with a Korean kick”). This heavily-loaded sandwich combines decent pulled pork, crisp pickles and kimchi coleslaw that’s maybe too mild, and a lively Gochujang sauce, all in a toasted, garlic-buttered roll. They also serve sides of Ramen-n-Cheese.
  • The cookies at Dishes by Doe, the Doe Fund’s catering and culinary arts arm. These first-rate baked goodies, only $1 each, come from the organization’s kitchen in Bushwick, a small (but, for us, delicious) part of the non-profit’s job training program for both homeless and recently incarcerated men.
  • Homestyle Filipino BBQ at Barbecue on a Stick. Choose from among a variety of meat skewers (chicken, pork, beef, all $3.50 each) basted in homemade sauces (the fiery green one is particularly good). The $2 side of three Putos—steamed, sweet rice cakes served here with a swipe of Velveeta—is worth getting.

Also available are wood-fired pizzas, with toppings traditional (pepperoni) and less so (pork and pineapple), from newcomer San Antonio’s; grilled jerk chicken and an array of sides from Four the Hard Way; and vegan honey and jars of pickles at The Pickling Poet, all of which is served with an original poem.

There are about a dozen non-food vendors here as well. The charming young men at the Pop Pin booth were hawking an array of amusing pins featuring Latin American celebrities and Colombian slang. The Muyu Market stand will be featuring a different pair of “local young entrepreneurs” (grade-school kids) each weekend. And Em at Em’s Stitches was donating 10% of all sales of her hand-knitted wares (like, she uses her fingers instead of knitting needles) to Planned Parenthood.

This year the LIC Flea & Food will be at the 46th Avenue location only once a month (the next one happens over the weekend of June 9 and 10), with its sister event, the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Studios also popping up monthly. Opening day of the latter is this Saturday, May 19, and many of the vendors are setting up shop in both locations.