Both the Hester Street Fair and the Taste of the Lower East Side open this month
Lower East Side It's a great time to dine on the Lower East Side: next weekend, two well-loved food events return to the neighborhood. On Thursday the 24th, Grand St. Settlement will open its doors for its 14th annual Taste of the Lower East Side, and on Saturday the 26th, the Hester Street Fair, now in its fifth season, will fill the corner of Hester and Essex Streets with more than 20 food vendors hawking everything from vegan Ethiopian stews to ice cream sandwiches made with locally sourced milk and cream.
First held in 2000 to raise money for its youth mentorship program JUMP!, Grand St. deems its tasting event "the city's most unique." On Thursday, more than 50 neighborhood restaurants will present a diverse array of plates to the benefit's guests, from wd-50's modernist cuisine to Veselka's old-school Ukrainian fare. And the icing on the cake, so to speak? Unlimited portions, a rarity at even the most generous of NYC's tasting events.
Tickets for the event, whose proceeds go directly towards supporting all of Grand St. Settlement's programs and services, cost $195 and are available at tasteofles.org. Last year's event raised $400,000; this year, staff at Grand St. Settlement are hoping to break half a million.
For those who'd rather enjoy their bites in the open air, there's the Hester Street Fair, located on the historic site of the city's largest pushcart market and, its organizers say, dedicated to celebrating the spirit of that immigrant-founded, turn-of-the-century marketplace. Previously operating only on Saturdays, this year the market will be open all weekend.
Vendors include not just a highly-curated variety of craft, clothing and jewelry makers, but also some of the neighborhood's most sought-after "pop-up" food vendors, such as Luke's Lobster, master of the New England-style crustacean roll, and La Newyorkina, purveyor of inventive "paletas," or Mexican-style ice pops in flavors like avocado, fresh coconut and cucumber-lime.
For more info, visit tasteofles.org and hesterstreetfair.com.