THE RED HOOK BALL FIELD VENDORS ARE BACK!! Once again I can walk 30mins down to Red Hook and get some freakin good and authentic Latin foods. And once again I vowed to eat more than just tacos from the Country Boys or a plate of chicharron with yuca from the Ceron truck.
I remember when I first visited the ball field, the vendors were all under their own tents and it would be normal to stand in line for a very long time just for pupusas from the El Olomega truck. My friends and I would trek out to Red Hook early to save a spot on the grass. Back in the day, while it was popular, no one really knew about it yet. And then it got really popular in the food scene. Which was great, more business for the vendors but of course then it drew the attention of the city and you know with the city…they have to put laws and rules on everything. The vendors were forced to serve their food out of trucks that they had to purchase themselves. After that the vibe definitely changed. It sort of lost that pop-up food oasis but people (even people from Manhattan) kept going back which was great! Then the crowd began to thin out. People now have more choices for outdoor dining (The Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg, Dekalb Market, Hester St Fair and bigillion other food options during the summer time) and the attention that the ball field vendor once got was gone.
Yes this past weekend was gloomy and chilly and wasn’t the optimal outdoor dining weather but none of the vendors had any lines at all. It’s also quite sad to look at their site and see how outdated it is and that there are so much stuff (bio and menu) in the site that are still missing.
I’m just one person but I like to believe that I have a little bit of fame power and I want to use that power to bring the crowd back to Red Hook. Will you join me?
Ladies and gentlemen, I like to tell you about my aunt. No…not my real aunt but my Red Hook food vendor aunt. Well she doesn’t know that she’s my aunt. Esperanza Ochoa runs the tiny truck on Bay St closer to Court St. She serves Guatemala food and IS JUST THE SWEETEST NICEST person you’ll ever meet (even if you don’t understand what she is saying). So here’s the shitty part. When you think about the food vendors, you think the Country Boys or pupusas or watermelon juice. And so many people tend to line up for those few trucks which are at the corner of Bay St and Clinton St. It’s great that they’re drawing the crowd but that leaves the trucks on the outer edge, where the Ochoa truck is, with no customers.
This past Saturday, when I was walking up and down on Bay St thinking about tamales, I noticed Esperanza was quietly sitting at the driver seat because no one was going to her truck. THAT totally broke my heart. I have never worked in a restaurant or in a food truck but I can imagine, with all the prep work beforehand, it’s a lot of work. And if I had done all that work and no one shows up…it’s super disappointing. I decided to spend my last $8 at her truck. I got a chicken and cheese tamale and an empanada (top photo). I have never eaten a Guatemalan styled tamale before and it was incredibly good. Hearty, much wetter than the usual tamale and there was a big piece of tender dark meat in the center. I ate the empanada (big and crunchy) while I ate the tamale. Great contrast of textures and flavors. Ah so good! I want her to stay in business, I want other people to enjoy her food as well. If I have to…I will do my best to keep her in business. Will you at least buy one item from her?
Left: The El Olomega truck is famous for their pupusas but have you tried anything else from this truck? I decided to and got the chicken chiccharron that came with fried yuca, plantain and rice and beans. This was good…so much more satisfying than the $20 fried chicken with cheddar waffles from Buttermilk Channel I had the previous Thursday night which was just plain meeehhh.
Right: Okay, so I said no tacos but this was fish taco from the Country Boys. The fish may not be fried but this was still good and cheap!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Smorgasburg….I love my Dekalb Market. Many of my friends have their businesses there and I will support them whatever way I can but I think there’s also room for the Red Hook Ball Field vendors. So my new mission, starting today, is to try and go to the ball field as much as I can and hopefully get a nice big crowd of people to go with me. How does this coming Saturday 5/12 sound? The vendors need you!
*Updated..okay I may have jumped the gun on this. Check it out..the sun brought the crowd on Sunday!