The peerless Queens Night Market has kicked off its eighth summer season, with an inaugural event in April that saw huge crowds gathered in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to feast on street food from around the world.
More than 50 different food vendors will have tents by the New York Hall of Science this summer (on Saturdays), and they're firing up a truly global array of offerings, from Burmese palatas, Peruvian ceviche, and Jamaican jerk chicken to Ethiopian sega wat, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, and Sichuan ice jelly. As usual, everything is priced at around five or six dollars, making it easy to sample a wide variety of dishes.
There are also some two dozen art, clothing, gift, and accessory shops to browse through, and live music, beer and wine, picnicking on the grass, cute dogs, happy kids, and lots of bopping around to a soundtrack of crowd pleasing dance music.
The vibes at Queens Night Market, in other words, are immaculate as usual. Here's everything you need to know about joining the feasting and fun this coming season.
NEW FOOD VENDORS & RETURNING FAVORITES IN 2023
The Queens Night Market, run by NYC treasure John Wang, has helped launch approximately 350 new small businesses over the years, representing culinary traditions from more than 90 different countries. This season's rookie class has plenty of winners, led by Pernil Ecuatoriano with a killer roasted pork sandwich stuffed with lots of juicy well-seasoned meat and enough creamy pepper sauce to perfect it.
Also very good on opening night were the shredded chicken tortillas drenched in a lively mole poblano from night market newbie Nixtamal. The fiery (and filling) doubles at the Trini Treats tent were a bargain for only three bucks, and the Nile Street Eats had a nifty little firakh panne sandwich, served on soft flatbread and loaded with kebab.
Other new vendors this year include Persian Eats NYC, slinging a lamb shank dish called dizi served with homemade bread; the Fujianese Muahchee Alley, with lychee pork and some fun ube-glazed mochi; and Lemak Kitchen, specializing in two types of Malaysian roti.
It would take all summer to eat your way through all of the culinary riches available here in the Hall of Science parking lot. Which sounds like a fun plan to be honest! But if you can only get to Flushing Meadows a couple of times, the must-tries begin with the Afghan mantu dumplings, hot and sour chickpea stew, and, back this year, the incredible smash burger from Mo Rahmita's Nansense.
Other Queens Night Market all stars include Don Ceviche and its namesake bright-and-tangy marinated seafood dish, the Tibetan momos at Nomad Dumplings, Myo Lin Thway's excellent paletas at Burmese Bites, and the heavenly pie crust cookies at Janie's.
Emeye Ethiopian Cuisine only joined the market last fall, but her sega wat, a hearty dish of slow-cooked beef, greens, and enough spongy injera to sop it all up, is already on our go-to list. The Twisted Potato tent continues to attract crowds—these deep fried spiraly tubers are fun to look at, fun to eat, and actually taste really good—as do Twistercake Bakery's cinnamony Romanian chimney cakes, which can double as ice cream cones.
There's lots more good stuff every Saturday night here in Queens, but we'll let you explore on your own. Half the thrill of a night at the market lies in taking chances on dishes you've never tried, or even heard of, before. Plus there are new vendors joining the party throughout the season, so you may actually be the very first customer of some small family business. An honor for sure!
One note on strategy: The lines at a lot of the more established tents get ridiculously long as prime dinner time hits, so the best advice, as always, is to get here right at 5 p.m. if possible, grab a bunch of dishes from the most popular spots before the crowds arrive, then pop around to some of the newer, usually less chaotic, booths as the night goes on.
THERE'S PLENTY OF NON-FOOD FUN, TOO!
After your first, or second, round of eating, take a stroll through the non-food vendors area, where you'll find, for example, streetwear by the Queens-based Somos NY, "a clothing brand aimed to be used as a tool for community building and growth," and Snow Milk, featuring one-of-kind designs on upcycled jackets, shirts, and hoodies.
Knitted by Ella had some super cute stuff on opening night, including a couple of Totoros, artist Michelle Marie brought lots of whimsically-illustrated home decor and kitchenware items, and Theobucket Vintage put out their usual array of cool costume jewelry and unopened packs of Topps baseball cards.
Adding to the festivities are the DJs blasting dance bangers, the live musical performances by the likes of the mighty Fogo Azul drumline, made up of women, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming drummers, and the readily available spirits from the beer and wine tent. The people (and dog) watching is first-rate as well.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The Queens Night Market runs every Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight, now through August 19th, then there's a break during the US Open Tennis Championships, then it resumes for seven more Saturdays from September 16th through October 28th.
Admission is free except for Saturday, April 22nd, the second of two "preview nights." Every dish for all vendors costs $5 or $6 (or less), though there are some paid upgrades available for certain items.
Parking is extremely limited on site and the organizers urge you not to drive, but the 7 train to the 111th Street Station takes you just a few blocks from the grounds. You can also take the Q23 or Q58 bus to Corona Avenue at 108th Street, or the Q48 to 111th Street at Roosevelt Avenue.
8 minute walk from 111 Street