Last Day of Madison Square Eats

By Amelia Rosen

Foodie paradise: cheap and delicious

Everyone, run down to Madison Square Park as quickly as you can. Until Friday, October 21st (tomorrow!), the park is hosting an event that is any foodie’s dream. Several restaurant outposts are set up in Worth Square (just to the west of Madison Square park at 24th St. and 5th Ave.) from 11am to 9pm, providing delicious, gourmet food in a truly magical al fresco setting; Lights are strung above small tables that are set up within the square, so you can devour your grub comfortably. It is the perfect solution for those who want to try a variety of options and are plagued by the “my eyes are bigger than my stomach syndrome.” You are able to buy a bite from each location for about $4 (although it may be a rather small bite).

Piccolo Café

On my first journey to the scrumptious site, I began by picking up a perfectly toasted panini from Piccolo Café. The baguette was lightly coated with “sweet and sour jam” (I believe it was rosemary-based) and then topped with porchetta (pork roast usually stuffed with rosemary, fennel, and garlic), balsamic onions, and arugula. It was heaven, and a pretty inexpensive one—costing only $5 for half a panini. There are three actual Piccolo Café locations, the closest of which to campus located at 274 West 40th Street (if your Piccolo craving isn’t satisfied at the square). After finishing my panini, I pranced my delighted stomach over to the Hong Kong Street Cart stand. I ordered the ginger and chicken soup, which was chalk full of shredded carrots and ginger. The chicken was very moist as well. Sadly, I couldn’t help but notice that it was rather bland and was lacking in terms of a variety of flavors. On a brighter note, it fit the bill in terms of satiating my hunger in a cost-effective manner; the large bowl only cost $6.

Hong Kong Street Cart

On my second trip to this gastronomic dreamland, I made only one food selection. That being said, I can confidently state that it was a terrific one. I chose to order dinner from Calexico, a Californian/Mexican-style food truck that offers a variety of burritos and tacos. This vendor had the longest line by far in the entire square and approximately a 15-minute wait. I thought to myself that the rest of the people in line must believe that whatever is being cooked on the grill is worth the time spent on line, so I squeezed in and joined the ranks of hungry customers. In short, the wait was definitely worthwhile. I would have waited double that amount to again receive the delicious carne asada tacos that I ordered! The marinated skirt steak was grilled to tender perfection, stuffed in soft corn tortillas, and sprinkled with avocado salad and pico de gallo. The tacos were rather small and $4 each, but I think they were worth every penny and more. Also, if you are a vegetarian, the truck offers a black bean option that I heard other patrons raving about. The only downside to the evening: I arrived at the truck an hour before the event closed for the night (the food stands close at 9 every night), so many of the menu items were already sold out. If you want to have your pick of all the fresh and delectable offerings, I would recommend going for an early dinner at around 6 P.M.

Madison Square Eats is a wonderful option for a unique and fun (as well as relatively inexpensive!) meal out. Of the three food stands that I sampled, I would recommend Calexico and Piccolo Café as my top choices. The Hong Kong Street Food Cart was delicious, but didn’t “wow” me like the other two vendors. Now, my fellow foodies, hurry out and have a magnificently decadent and upbeat meal in Worth Square. You won’t be disappointed that you did!
Amelia Rosen is a first-year at Barnard and a Staff Writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Photos courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy and Amelia Rosen.

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