Aside from the transit options helping you avoid DUI’s in your 20s, one of the best things about New York is that Latin American food isn’t just “Latin.” It’s Brasilian, Venezuelan, El Salvadorian. There are subtle nuances in each that are lost in suburbia. And every weekend, Red Hook is the place to be if you want to sample it all, when the soccer fields between Court Street and Columbia Street become the home of food trucks representing countries across Latin America. Despite being difficult to get to, if you arm yourself with $20, the trip is more than worth it.
After an initial walk through, we begin our adventure at 2012 Vendy winner, Piatzlan, for carne asada tostadas. The thin steak was heaping atop a perfectly fried tortilla and there was an insane amount of cotija (the best salty cheese there is).
Tostada de Carne Asada, $3 (Remaining: $17)
Realizing this was merely a warm-up, I headed to Vaqueros for fresh mango juice and elote (your favorite grilled corn on a stick). Like everything good in this world, the corn is also covered in cotija, mayo and cayenne. The corn was so sweet and the cotija was so salty, I was losing it, guys. Is this the best day ever? Yes.
Medium Mango Juice, $2 & Elote $3 (Remaining: $12)
Only now was this grasshopper ready for pupusas. Pupusa is not just fun to say, it’s also a delicious fried masa cake filled with cheese. Served with pickled slaw and all the jalapenos you see fit to eat, it is a meal unto itself. I had my first pupusa on a lunch break in Reseda, California. It was fine, but it didn’t compare to what you can get in Red Hook. I certainly didn’t start eating that first one with my hands like a maniac because getting a fork took 15 seconds too long and I needed it NOW.
On a Sunday afternoon after a rainy weekend, the food trucks were a little thin, but two standbys remained. El Olomega and Smorgasburg-fave Solber. I started at El Olomega with a chicken pupusa. I should have gotten two, rookie mistake. I added some pickled carrots and jalapenos, and got down on the crispy cake. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the people at the Red Hook Ball Fields on Sunday, who did not see a lady, but a beast.
Pupusa de Pollo, $4 for one, $6 for two (Remaining: $8)
At this point I am legitimately full. But I’ve only spent $12 and I have money to burn, so it’s time to try another pupusa. Solber’s is up, with their fried pork and cheese pupusa. These weren’t as crispy, probably because they were smothered in cream and hot sauce, but the pickled onions on the side gave the pupusa crunch factor. Crunch factor is very important!
Pupusa de Chicharrones y Queso, $3 (Remaining: $5)
Dessert is obviously more mango, and I figured it was high time to act more like a lady, so I opted for the mango in a clamshell from Vaqueros, con todo! Lime, salt and hot sauce for the win, leading me to ask myself the next morning: What did I eat that wasn’t spicy?
Mangoes, $3 (Remaining: $2)
The vendors were closing up shop now and I caught sight of a bin full of ring pops. The perfect end to a killer meal has to be ring pops.
2 Ring pops, $1 each (Remaining: $0!)
This meal was ridiculous and filled two people generously. I could easily eat my way through another afternoon, and probably will.