I know I'm not the only one who wondered what exactly Nightmarket would turn out to be. I guessed an actual market of produce and prepared goods from farmers and artisans. I knew there would be food, but did I think it would be a Street Food Festival? No.
That was the point, right? To be vague and entice visitors with its shroud of mystery.
It certainly struck. Passyunk Avenue was mobbed with nightmarketers and their children. You didn't have to sign up for an email to know about it. All you had to do was peer outside your window, see a bunch of street food scarfing gangs, and want in. The sun had not yet disappeared when I took this photo.
The vendors surrounding the square, the businesses of the neighborhood, were all featuring some specialty dishes and drinks. This seemed right to me. Further along were the food trucks, in foreign territory, so that people had a chance to sample dishes from their favorite neighborhood restaurants as well as a chance to try some far-away food trucks that they have never seen before.
If you were vegetarian, you had a shot at putting together some mishmash form of a meal. If you were vegan, well, you were eating veggie tacos or drinking a smoothie. I found the options pretty limited (I am now following a vegan diet). I went to check out Chhaya Cafe, as I've been meaning to sample their coffee, and nibbled on a vegan red velvet cupcake. It was deep, dark, and voluptuous and the accompanying soy latte was icing on that. The micro foam was luxurious. I only wish this magical pairing was closer.
Back to Nightmarket, I felt like I had to try at least one thing. I was intrigued by the tea cart, but had just serviced myself with java. The lines were quite long, but that is common with food festivals and most people seemed excited to just be there and had their companions to wait in line with them. It was a friendly crowd that understood the art of street food, for the most part. Since I had not visited Coup de Taco in some time, I chose their queue for a tofu taco. From line to prize, it was about 20 - 25 minutes, not excruciating. Good thing I had ruined my appetite with red velvet, or I might have walked out on Nightmarket and found my nightgrub elsewhere.
Overall, I had a good experience, and it will be fun to see this evolve as it changes location and vendors. Some trucks I would love to see:
Magic Carpet Vegetarian
Hub Bub Coffee Truck
Next Nightmarket is set for Spring 2011.