Going to summer street fairs in New York City are one of my absolute favorite things to do. Starting in late April and running straight through October, there is a street fair somewhere in the five boroughs of New York City* every single weekend. This summer, I am making it my goal to go to as many street fairs as possible. While many of the vendors at the NYC street fairs are hawking the same goods such as magnets, cheap clothing, and jewlery, there are also lots of food vendors and amazing artisans. Usually the food is crappy, deep-fried, non-gluten-free food but not always. There are more local vendors providing gourmet food and sometimes you can even find delicious, gluten-free friendly grub at these fairs.
As part of my street fair mission this summer, I will scope out all of the gluten-free food I find and report back to my Gluten-Free Globetrotter readers. If you are visiting New York City this summer, I highly suggest you find a street fair and check it out!
The first fairs I am featuring are the Astoria Flea and the LICFlea. I am grouping these together because they share many of the same vendors. Now in it’s second year, the Long Island City Flea has become a popular Saturday market in the ever-changing Long Island City (LIC). Long Island City is a neighborhood within Queens, one of New York City’s five boroughs. With amazing views from Gantry Plaza State Park and Manhattan only one subway stop away, LIC is more popular than ever. I ride my bike to Long Island City from Astoria almost every single weekend and often stop by the LIC Flea. I highly recommend a trip to Long Island City the next time you are in Manhattan. The neighborhood has lots of fun, new restaurants, gorgeous views of Manhattan, and interesting vendors and entertainment at the LIC Flea. Did I mention the view?!
In it’s first year, I am so excited the Astoria Flea is now in my ‘hood! Located on the backlot of the famous Kaufman Astoria Studios (home to TV shows like Law and Order and Sesame Street!)), the Astoria Flea is a very welcome edition to the neighborhood. Organized by the same founders of the LIC Flea, the Sunday Astoria Flea has food, jewelry, and interesting home crafts. One of my favorite vendors sells the cutest little cork vases I have ever seen. Astoria Flea is also right next door to the Museum of the Moving Image, a popular museum that focuses on movie and television history. There are frequent movie viewings at the museum and I noticed a 2-for-1 entry fee postcard at the Astoria Flea. I’ve been in Astoria for 10 years and have yet to go to the MOMI. Tragic, I know. But I hope to take advantage of one of their free Friday afternoons later this summer.
Food plays an integral part of both the LIC and Astoria Fleas. Obviously, I am always looking for the gluten-free vendors and happy to support the local people who feed me well. I’ve gotten to know some of the GF vendors and I am happy to give them my business. Vendors sometimes vary from week to week and at each location, so be sure to check out their websites beforehand if you are looking for a specific gluten-free product.
Gluten-Free Finds at LIC Flea and Astoria Flea
Bibingka-esk is a traditional Philippine dessert made from sweet rice flour and coconut milk topped with coconut shavings. These come in flavors such as cinnamon sugar, blueberry, and chocolate strawberry. The flavor selection varies at each fair so try a few different flavors. They come in fun sizes from bibingka (large), to bingky (medium), and the bite-sized bibites. Arrive early, they often sell out!
Cheesebread Co., a gluten-free pao de queijo, aka cheese bread, is a popular item at the fleas. These are naturally gluten-free, made with no preservatives, and are non-GMO.
Jicama NYC is a “California Street Food” stand that sells gluten-free treats such as kale sausage wraps, jicama carnita tacos, etole (Mexican corn on the cob), and tamales. I have become a tamale freak lately, trying tamales all over the city. I haven’t tried the Jicama tamales yet, but I plan on it the next time I see them at the LIC or Astoria Flea.
Chocotoy is a cold-pressed juice company that has featured flavors such as Green Goodness, Energy, Rejuventate, and Tropical. These juices aren’t cheap, but as with any cold-pressed juice they are fresh and delicious. I highly recommend Green Goodness. You just feel healthy after drinking this juice.
Drink More Good makes handcrafted soda syrup, tea, and bitters. At both the LIC and Astoria Flea, More Good was sampling their sodas. I didn’t get a chance to try the soda yet, but I loved their booth. According to their Twitter response, “They are not processed in a certified gluten free kitchen, but the recipes themselves are gluten free.” Good answer, Drink More Good!
TheCheeseGuy.com had me at cheese. I am cheese freak and eat samples whenever I can. I tried mellow yellow cheddar at the Astoria Flea and really enjoyed it. TheCheeseGuy.com sells soft cheese, Kosher cheese, feta, cheddar, swiss, and more. Give me more cheese!
This Pie is Nuts is a cool pie product that I found at the Astoria Flea with an interesting back story. The chef for this company was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis many years ago and as part of her treatment she started eating differently and took control of her diet. These pies are vegan and gluten-free and made primarily from nuts so they are naturally gluten-free. They are currently made in a shared facility, but they are trying to move to a 100% GF kitchen soon. The pumpkin pie was awesome!
Ollie’s Bites are a bite-sized, kid-friendly snack made from buckwheat groats (yes, these are GF!), chia, hemp seeds, and dried fruit. While they are advertised as “wholesome bites for awesome kids”, this awesome adult really enjoyed the samples at the Astoria Flea!
Did I miss anyone? Are you a vendor at the LIC Flea or Astoria Flea selling a gluten-free product? I would love to hear from you and will be sure to stop by soon!
Day: Saturdays through September
Location: In a parking lot at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street in Long Island City.
Address: Nearest Google Maps address: 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101.
Directions: Take the 7 train to Vernon Blvd. and walk north (street numbers will go down) to 46th Ave. Turn left and walk until you see the LIC Flea on your right-hand side.
Day: Sundays through June
Location: Inside the world-famous Kaufman Astoria Studios backlot on 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues.
Address: 35-23 35th Avenue, Astoria, New York
Directions: Option A: Take the R train to Steinway Street. Walk south on Steinway (street numbers will go up) until 35th Ave. Turn right and walk to the back lot of Kaufman Astoria Studios. Option B: Take the Q or R train to 36th Ave. Walk north under the train (street numbers will go down) to 35th Ave. Turn right and walk to 35th Street.
Learn more: http://www.licflea.com/
* New York City five boroughs = Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island
Note: People find streets in Queens confusing with all of the roads, avenues, streets, etc. It is easy once you get the hang of it, or get a really good map! Good luck!