When I was at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok, it was approximately a million degrees, and we were sandwiched in with approximately a million people who were all gnawing and munching on delicious-looking snacks as they peered into stall after stall. As I hungrily watched everyone smacking their lips around beef skewers and shrimp-paste buns, not yet having developed the stomach to eat from local carts, I had the realization that I was at the Thai equivalent of The State Fair! Minus the fanny packs and stroller mafia, natch. It's our version of street food, and though we bemoan the brevity of it, an everyday version might lessen the anticipation that builds all summer, nullify the patient development of the Hit List, which must be charted and plotted and parsed out over a few visits.
NEW in 2008
Axel's—Tater tots on a stick (made with hash browns, bacon, cheese, and green onion).
Big Fat Bacon—The talk of the town, BFB is offering fried bacon caramelized with maple syrup . . . breakfast or a dessert?
Blue Moon Dine-In Theater—Wood-fired pizza and shakes . . . meh.
Epiphany Diner—Walking taco (taco stuff crammed into a Dorito bag), already a favorite at soccer tournaments state-wide.
Famous Dave's—Pig lickers! Yes, also on everyone's lips (and soon to be hips) is the chocolate-covered fried bacon from Dave's. Love how they push the envelope every year.
Green Mill—Foot-long pizza on a stick because it just wasn't portable enough.
Holy Land Deli—Welcome! Bring on the falafel, the Halloumi cheese kabob, and that killer hummus.
Isabella's Italian Ice—If you've never had Italian Ice, you ought to beeline it to this frosty, smooth treat.
Island Noodles—Hawaiian buckwheat stir-fried soba noodles with up to twenty-one vegetables. Sounds like a gut-stuffer; don't attempt at the beginning of your day.
McLellan's Grilled Shrimp—Grilled shrimp on a stick or popcorn shrimp.
Midtown Global Market—Wecome!! A lovely rotation of Manny's tortas, La Loma's tamales, Pham's Deli spring rolls, and Jakeeno's wrapped asparagus and hoagies.
O'Gara's—Leprechaun legs, by gosh and by garn. Go ahead and scare the kids, they're just battered and fried green beans with dipping sauces. No bones.
The Preferred Pickle—Pickle pop. I'm a little worried we've gone too far on this one, paying for frozen pickle juice in a push-up? I'll only do it once. Or twice if it's good.
San Felipe Tacos—Fish tacos, beef tacos, jerk chicken tacos, veggie tacos, and nachos, clearly.
Sausage Sister & Me—Loooooove these ladies! This year's new treat is Caribbean jerk sausage on a stick, AKA Jerk-on-a-Stick.
Tejas—Sticky bun burrito is a tortilla filled with cinnamon bread pudding covered with caramel sauce.
West Indies Soul Cafe—One word: grits!
Being the gastronomer, I am obliged to try the new first, but if there's room here's my list of picks:
Corn Fritters—Fried green tomatoes
Der Pretzel Haus—Hand-twisted pretz, even if I'm too full.
French Creperie—Nutella-filled crepe, not quite like the Parisian version, but close.
Fried Fruit—Fried peaches on a stick. Gotta try it.
Minnesota Apples—Frozen cider pop
Spam Burgers—Spam curds. Seriously.