NYC: Good Eats at Mad. Sq. Eats, Fall 2014 Edition

Mad. Sq. Eats is baaaack! Starting today, you can enjoy this pop-up food market’s month long stay in Worth Square, right across the street from Madison Square Park. I’ve told you about Mad. Sq. Eats before – it’s an awesome outdoor market that gathers over 30 food vendors into one central location in the beginning of Spring and Fall. Even better, it’s right in my hood, a short 15 minute walk away from the apartment. Can’t really beat the convenience of NYC!

When I was gone for a week in May, J said he ate at the Roberta’s Pizza booth almost every day. It’s exciting that Roberta’s is here because its original location is located in deep deep Brooklyn, but is definitely one of the best pizzas in New York. It’s made in a actual wood burning oven that they lug around to pop-up markets – it’s seriously delicious.
But enough about the pizza. I’m writing to tell you about something much more exciting: I was invited to check out Mad. Sq. Eats today for a press tasting! An opportunity to check out all the good eats from all these amazing vendors? How could I resist?

Out of all the food that I tried, there were a few that stood out to me so I’ll highlight the good eats that I think you should check out.

The Gumbo Bros

Since I’ve tried quite a few of the vendors before, I made sure to try all 3 of the new food vendors to join Mad. Sq. Eats. The one that piqued my interest immediately was The Gumbo Bros. I have always loved gumbo for it’s bold smokey flavors, and stew like qualities. I mean, I’ve even hosted a cousin’s gumbo night for over 20 people! The process of making a good roux for gumbo is a serious labor of love and I feel like there’s definitely some love in this gumbo.
The Gumbo Bros’ were started by two guys, Adam and Clay, who both went to college in Louisiana. It’s actually the first time they’ve set up shop to test their gumbo concept, but it’s a dish that goes well in a food vendor setting since you can make such a huge batch of gumbo at once and it tastes better the longer it sits.

I tried two of their gumbos, a more traditional Frenchman Street Creole and the Nanny’s Cajun. The fisherman features shrimp, tomatoes, Andouille sausage and okra in a creole tomato based roux that was seriously super addicting. The Nanny’s Cajun was also yummers, with a ton of pulled chicken and sausage. I need the okra in my gumbo, so the Creole won for me.

Breads Bakery

While Breads Bakery is a newcomer to Mad. Sq. Eats, it’s no stranger to NYC. In fact, I recently read about it on a BuzzFeed list of 25 Bakeries Around The World You Have To See Before You Die. They have a location downtown, but I haven’t checked it out until now. The best thing on their menu is the Chocolate Babka and let me tell you… this is BOMMMB.

Imagine a chocolate croissant, but on crack. It’s that much better when it’s warmed up because it just makes the chocolate that’s marbled through the loaf just melted and gooey and delish. The only bummer is that it seems like you have to buy a whole loaf of this which runs you at about $13. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so 2 bites of the sample was enough for me. If I worked nearby, I would totally come here to grab some smaller baked goods to go.

Seoul Lee Korean BBQ

A vendor that took me by surprise was Seoul Lee Korean BBQ. Sure, Korean tacos might be a little bit “overdone” now, but it’s for a good reason. The combo of Korean and Mexican just works. Seoul Lee makes things a little different here by using fresh blue corn tortillas that they soften up by warming it on their flat top before serving.

Two tacos I tried were the Daeji Bulgogi Spicy Pork and the Bulgogi Beef. Both were really really good, complete tiny flavor bombs. The meats were cooked well, the kimchi had the right tanginess and were cut into the perfect sizes for the tacos and that sauce just helped bring it all together.

I was much too full to try anything else, but I would love to come back to try one of their burritos. Bet it would be super filling. As a bonus, the Chef Joe Lee was just super friendly and obviously cared a lot about the food and drinks he was putting out. We ended up having a Korean Mojito, which is basically a mojito made with soju. It paired perfectly with the spice of the tacos.

ilili Box

The last place I wanted to give a quick call out to is ilili Box for their awesome Labne Cheesecake. The cheesecake bottom has a smooth texture, almost like a thick pudding. I loved that it had strong notes of vanilla in it – could see that they used fresh vanilla from all the specks of vanilla bean. It’s topped with a hibiscus gelee and almond crumble.

Also enjoyed the lamb shawarma and fried brussel sprouts appetizer. This makes me really want to check out their location in Flatiron since I walk by it all the time.
There were a ton of other foods that we ate as well, if you can think of it, it was probably there. From kombucha on tap to Asian hot dogs with kimchi and seaweed flakes on top.

Here’s some other things we tried:

An always popular option is Red Hook Lobster Pound. They have perfected the lobster roll because it never lets me down. The bun is always toasted with a bit of butter but still soft and fluffy like delicious sandwich bread. There’s 3 options to choose from, Maine, Connecticut or Tuscan. This is the first time I’ve heard of the Tuscan-style – they don’t serve that at their actual storefront in Red Hook.

We got to try the Maine roll this time and I’ve finally decided that I like it over the warm Connecticut roll that’s covered in warm butter. The warm butter gets to be too overwhelming for me, especially given how buttery the buns are already.

Spicy Tuna Taco from Takumi Taco

Cold Peanut Noodles over Spinach Fettuccine Noodles from Hong Kong Street Cart

Prosciutto and Mozzerella Torta from newcomer Turan – an italian sandwich that brought me right back to Italy

Delicious looking summer rolls that I was too full to try at Two Tablespoons

Hope you’ve enjoyed checking out what good eats you can expect from Mad. Sq. Eats this season. Be sure to check it out if you’re interested as it is open through October 2nd – it’s open daily from 11am-9pm. I will say that if you come by 8:55pm like we’ve tried before, most people will be closing up shop, so don’t come too late!
*I was invited to Mad. Sq. Eats as a part of a media event, but as always, all opinions are my own.

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