Smorgasburg is a weekly open-air food market in Brooklyn, New York that offers a wide range of cuisines and culinary experiences. From traditional New York-style pizza to exotic Korean BBQ, there’s something for everyone at Smorgasburg.
As soon as you enter the market, you’re greeted by the tantalizing smells of various foods wafting through the air. The bustling atmosphere, lively music, and colorful food stalls create a vibrant and exciting ambiance.
A Brief History of Smorgasburg
Smorgasburg was founded in 2011 by Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby. The now über-popular food market was started initially as an offshoot from the vintage Brooklyn Flea Market. The idea behind Smorgasburg was to create a weekly food market that would showcase Brooklyn’s vibrant food scene and give local food entrepreneurs a platform to sell their products.
The first Smorgasburg took place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with just 20 food vendors. The market quickly gained popularity and expanded to other locations, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Prospect Park, and even Los Angeles. This summer (2023), they’re running a weekly summer market every Friday in FiDi, too, and they also run markets in New Jersey.
Today, Smorgasburg attracts thousands of visitors each weekend. The market features over 100 food vendors though at each individual market, there’s much fewer ones. The vendors rotate across different locations and dates.
One of the unique aspects of Smorgasburg is its commitment to showcasing local and sustainable food. Many of the vendors use locally sourced ingredients and focus on using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
Over the years, Smorgasburg has become a cultural institution in Brooklyn, and a must-visit destination for foodies from around the world. The market has also helped to launch the careers of many successful food businesses, including popular restaurants and food trucks.
Several food vendors have even shown up on Shark Tank (ie, the Pizza Cupcake) with pitches to expand their food offerings to an even wider audience. If you’re looking for a place to meet and try food vendors before they turn into something bigger, Smorgasburg is the place to be.
5 Tips for First-time Visitors to Smorgasburg
1. Arrive early
Smorgasburg can get very crowded, especially on weekends. To avoid long lines and crowds, try to arrive early in the day, ideally when the market opens. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but you’ll also have a better chance of snagging a table or spot to sit and enjoy your food.
2. Wear comfortable shoes
Smorgasburg isn’t too large of an outdoor market, but seating can be difficult, so it’s best to wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, standing, and potentially waiting in line, so make sure you’re comfortable.
3. Bring cash
Although some vendors may accept credit cards or mobile payments, it’s always a good idea to bring cash with you—especially for tips which the vendors always seem to appreciate more than credit card tips. There’s also always some people on the outskirts of the market selling water bottles on especially hot days—which if you have cash, will be cheaper than getting water inside the food vendor area.
4. Try something different (and new!)
Smorgasburg is a great opportunity to try new and unique food. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never had before. You might just discover your new favorite dish!
5. Always share your food
With so many delicious options to choose from, it can be tempting to order everything. But keep in mind that the portions at Smorgasburg are often large, and it’s easy to overeat. Consider sharing dishes with friends or family, so you can try more items without feeling too stuffed. Plus, sharing is a great way to bond over food and make some new friends at the market.
6. Check the weather
Smorgasburg is an outdoor market during the summer, so it’s important to check the weather before you go. If it’s going to be hot and sunny, make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. If it’s going to rain, bring an umbrella or raincoat.
7. Bring a reusable water bottle
Staying hydrated is important, especially on a hot day. Bring a reusable water bottle with you (one of my top sustainable tips for travel or otherwise!), so you can prevent creating any extra waste. This will not only save you money, but it’s also better for the environment.
8. Be respectful
Smorgasburg is a popular destination, and it’s important to be respectful of other visitors, vendors, and the environment. Don’t cut in line, clean up after yourself, and be mindful of your surroundings.
9. Do a walkthrough first
With lots of food vendors to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. Once you arrive at Smorgasburg, spend a few moments to do a lap through the market first to see which vendors are there that day. This will also help you avoid backtracking and wasting time.
10. Have fun
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Smorgasburg is a unique and exciting experience, and it’s a great opportunity to try new food, meet new people, and explore Brooklyn’s food culture. So, relax, enjoy yourself, and savor every bite.
Smorgasburg is a testament to the vibrant and diverse food culture of Brooklyn. The market has played a significant role in supporting local food entrepreneurs, promoting sustainable food practices, and showcasing the best of Brooklyn’s culinary scene. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun.
Find opening info and times on the Smorgasburg website.