Smorgasburg Brooklyn: The Complete Guide

crowds of people shopping at food vendors tents in East River Park with Manhattan skyline in the background
••• Smorgasburg 

Once a small and low-key food market, Smorgasburg, has grown into a destination for visitors from across the globe. Since 2011, folks have been flocking to Smorgasburg, a weekly open air food market showcasing a curated selection of food vendors, serving everything from gourmet ring dings to Cantonese noodles. This popular attraction is a spinoff of (and similar concept to) the famed Brooklyn Flea, a weekend flea market selling vintage goods and artisanal products, but Smorgasburg hosts vendors that only sell food.

Both the markets have a competitive process for winning the coveted spots for vendors, leaving visitors with an array of first rate finds.  

Although it's a lively summertime activity, Smorgasburg is a year-round market. In the winter, it moves indoors. Previous indoor locations include Industry City, but it has been know to set up shop elsewhere. For the latest info on locations, be sure to check out their website for updates on the current winter home.

Smorgasburg is a unique experience, and it's one you must put on any itinerary when you visit Brooklyn. 

Locations

From the spring through the middle of the fall (check the website for exact opening and closing dates each year), Smorgasburg has two outdoor locations in Brooklyn, and both locations boast 100 vendors. You should allot a few hours for a visit, giving yourself enough time to peruse the stands as you make your decisions.

Saturdays: Smorgasburg is held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in East River State Park (90 Kent Avenue).

Dine on delicacies as you take in the stunning views of Manhattan from this waterfront park. Take the L train to Bedford Avenue stop, walk to North 7th Street, and follow it to the water. 

Sundays: Smorgasburg is in Prospect Park at Breeze Hill (East Drive at Lincoln Road) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Take the B/Q subway to the Prospect Park Subway station, and walk toward the park's entrance.

You will immediately see signs leading you to Smorgbasburg, which is less than a five-minute walk from the Lincoln Road entrance to the park. This is a popular spot to cycle, and there are numerous bike racks. If you're using a Citi Bike check for locations close to Smorgasburg.

This summer, Smorgasburg is setting up a third outpost at a popular weekly event. Want enjoy some excellent food while watching a great movie? Smorgasburg is partnering with Movies With A View at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The summer-long Thursday evening film series, which is free to the public, will have a rotating list of vendors from Smorgasburg, including Burger Supreme, Musser's Famous Crab Cake Sandwiches, Home Frite, Wood Fired Edibles, and Bona Bona Ice Cream. Bring a blanket and watch a movie on the lawn as you enjoy these tasty eats. 

The Smorgasburg also has locations outside of New York City, including one in downtown Los Angeles on Sundays and another pop up location in Osaka. In addition, the folks from Smorgasburg are also behind the popular Crown Heights Beer Hall, Berg'n, which has food from the market. This is a local destination spot, and it has a popular Tuesday Trivia Night and many other cool events.

 

What to Expect

This weekend open air food market, open rain or shine, is a crowd pleaser. Smorgasburg attracts more than 20,000 people each weekend, so get there early to avoid crowds. A day at Smorgasurg involves trying unique foods or new startups that will satiate even the pickiest of eaters. Many restaurants have gotten their start at Smorgasburg, including Pizza Moto, which served incredible brick oven pizza at the market and then went on to open a popular restaurant in Carroll Gardens.  

The best way to enjoy Smorgasburg is by having a picnic on the grass (so bring a blanket). There is a lot of room at both locations for picnicking, and there is no better way to spend an afternoon than relaxing with friends as you eat.

Both locations have quite a scene and attract a crowd. There are many vendors, like the popular Bread and Monkey at the Williamsburg location, that sells out of its banana bread very early.

If you are heading there for a special food, get to Smorgasburg when it opens. Also be patient, lines can be pretty long at many vendors, but the wait is worth it. Tip: spread out and have your friends wait in other lines, and then share the goods you all get.

If you're in the mood for wine or beer or a cocktail, they have a booth that sells drinks and a closed off area to enjoy them. In addition, if you're ready to experience a wide range of desserts, the Smorgasburg has you covered. From ice cream to artisanal cakes and cookies, you can find almost any dessert you're craving at the Smorgasburg. You won't leave disappointed. 

Dog owners will have to leave their pooch on Saturday in East River State Park (ADA companion animals are permitted). Pets are welcome at the Sunday market in Prospect Park. 

Best Things to Eat

The hardest part of visiting the Smorgasburg is trying to decide where to eat. There are so many vendors and you might feel overwhelmed (in a good way). You might want to go with a group of people, so you can share a lot of food from different stands.

There isn't a big difference between the two locations because most of the food is at both locations, with the exception of a few. If you do go to the Williamsburg location, you will have a few options that aren't available on Sundays. Vendors that are only in the Williamsburg location including Boutrous, which serves inventive Middle Eastern food, Himalayan Horizon serving authentic Himalayan food, Bread and Monkey, the banana bread newcomer run by a local high school student, and Yoshimoto Fish Company, which serves Donburi bowls with fish imported from Japan. 

With a plethora of street food, the famous ramen burger, and fried cookie dough balls, you will find a treasure of treats at Smorgasburg. Here are a few highlights:

  • If you are a fan of Ring Dings, you must have PB & J Ring Ding from the Ring Ding Bar, located at both Williamsburg and Prospect Park. This upscale take on an old-school packaged snack comes in many varieties including Red Velvet, Lemon Cream, French Toast, Nutella and many others. Like many vendors at Smorgasburg, the Ring Ding Bar debuted at Smorgasburg and now has a permanent location in Tribeca. 
  • For savory summery food, enjoy a lobster from Lobsterdamus, a popular vendor from the LA Smorgasburg is serving up mesquite-grilled whole lobsters in both Brooklyn locations. They also have lobster nachos.  
  • Or try traditional Honduran baleadas made with authentic flour tortillas and catrachas.
  • Enjoy Dim Sum at Ya Ya Noodz ​with a menu of rice noodles and dumplings, including vegan sticky rice, gluten-free Cheun Fun, and many other budget-friendly good eats (everything costs $8). 
  • An old school stand from Smorgasburg, which has returned for another season is Ramen Burger, where you can try the modern classic. They also have an inventive vegetarian ramen burger. Another Smorgasburg classic is People's Pops, where you can get a fruit ice pop or shaved ice. 
  • Other stand outs include french fries (get the ranch dip) at Home Frite, Japanese fried chicken from Dash Fried Chicken, pizza from Frico Italia​mozzarella sticks from Big Mozz, Canadian favorite butter tarts from BTarts, and many more. 

What to Bring

Head to Smorgasburg with an empty stomach but be sure to bring these things to enhance the experience:

  • Your wallet stocked with some cash—some vendors do take cards, but many are cash only. Vendors range in price, so there is something for every budget; however, you might shell out a bit more than you would for any other street food at this market. If you forgot cash, don't fret, there are ATMs on site (with a $2.50 fee). If you want any of the cool Smorgasburg merch, which includes t-shirts and a sturdy tote bag, you can pay with a card.
  • Bring some sunscreen. Note that both outdoor locations are in open areas that don't offer a lot of shade. Although there is a small area in Prospect Park that has shade from the trees, you should definitely bring and apply lots of sunscreen before a visit to either location. If you're heading to the Prospect Park location, you might also want to bring some bug spray. 
  • Pack a blanket. Because of the limited picnic tables, you'll likely have to sit on the ground nearby, so bring a blanket to post up in the grass and enjoy your picnic.
  • Don't forget to pack a water bottle. They have refilling stations for water bottles, so you can save money and the environment by not buying bottled water. 

What Else to do Nearby

Williamsburg: You can easily fill a weekend exploring the area around the Williamsburg location of Smorgasburg. After you've filled up on food, burn some calories exploring the scenic park. Afterward, head down N 9th Street to Rough Trade, where you can peruse the large selection of vinyl at this record shop and concert venue. Continue shopping at Artists and Fleas, a market filled with unique finds including vintage and handmade wares. For a perfect shopping experience, walk down to Bedford Avenue and stop in the many indie stores lining this funky Main Street. Don't leave without a visit the lovely Catbird for some cool jewelry and homewares, or pick up a book at the local favorite Spoonbill and Sugartown. If you'd like an evening drink, grab a beer at Radegast Hall or have a cocktail at Westlight, the rooftop bar at the William Vale Hotel. You can also go bowling at Brooklyn Bowl or pack a swimsuit and swim at McCarren Park Pool. Skateboarders should skate to the McCarren Skate Park

Prospect Park: The subway will let you out in the heart of Prospect Lefferts Garden, a neighborhood filled with great restaurants and shops and charming side streets filled with historic homes. The main shopping road is the bustling and vibrant Flatbush Avenue. Book lovers should definitely stop in the outpost of Greenlight Books on Flatbush Avenue. If you want to grab a drink after Smorgasburg, stop in Midwood Flats, a gastropub. If you'd rather spend the day in nature, you can stick around Prospect Park. The 526-acre park is home to a zoo, a nature center, skating rink, running and bike paths, a historic home and a carousel, a boat house, and many other lovely ways to spend a Sunday. Smorgasburg is just a short walk from Lakeside, where you can spend the rest of the day roller skating to pop music. Or you can take a ride on the carousel, which is a popular destination for families with children.