I went to a hidden food festival deep in Queens for a taste of New York City’s best food festival, which pays homage to Asia’s world-famous night markets

A young girl watches as a vendor at the Queens Night Market turns sugar into edible artwork.

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A young girl watches as a vendor at the Queens Night Market turns sugar into edible artwork.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

  • Every year, from April to October, New York City’s best food festival happens nearly every Saturday night.
  • The Queens Night Market is a massive celebration of the borough’s diversity – it features vendors from all over the world serving dishes from all over the world.
  • We visited the Queens Night Market on a recent Saturday for a few bites and a lot of photographs.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Queens Night Market is an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re a native New Yorker or a first-time visitor, the weekly food celebration should be at the very top of your to-do list. For the last several years, the Queens Night Market has connected local, small food vendors from Queens with anyone looking for a delicious bite.

Last Saturday, my partner and I headed to historic Corona, Queens to eat dinner and document the festivities:


The Queens Night Market sets up shop in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a historic NYC park created by Robert Moses in the early 20th century.

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Google Maps

The first thing you need to know about the Queens Night Market is that it’s located at the New York Hall of Science. If you see the rockets, you’re in the right place.

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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

You’ll also probably smell the event before you arrive. Let your nose guide you — if the crowds of other people haven’t already — to the Queens Night Market, which is just around the back of the Hall of Science.

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You guessed right: If you see this sign, you’ve arrived.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

Entering the Queens Night Market is overwhelming. There are suddenly dozens of booths with all different types of food. At this stall, La Brasa, skewers of beef and chicken were being grilled up en masse alongside whole ears of corn.

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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

As the name implies, the event happens every Saturday night. Given that we went in mid-July, the light held on until pretty late — we arrived around 8 pm ET.

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Vendors selling everything from coal-fired skewers to Pateis de Nata (Portuguese custard tart).
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

The first Queens Night Market was held back in 2015, and the mission has stayed the same ever since: “To represent as many countries as possible with our food,” founder John Wang told Insider in 2018.

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Karl’s Balls is a stand that makes takoyaki, a kind of savory pancake ball with octopus that comes from Japanese cuisine.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

As globalist as that message sounds, it’s a distinctly local message in Queens — the NYC borough is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse urban areas. The Queens Night Market is intentionally representative of its borough.

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At Taste of Ukraine, crepe-like blintzes were freshly made to order.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

The weekly event is free, and vendors have a hard ceiling on prices: No individual item can cost more than $5.

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There are a small handful of exceptions to the price ceiling, such as beer, but I didn’t see anything that cost more than $6 (a fancy microbrew beer).
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

Attendance varies wildly, from local teens taking selfies to out-of-towners who smartly made time for New York City’s least pretentious, most diverse, most affordable food event.

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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

Let’s get back to the food for a moment — it’s hard not to stop and gawk at this marvel of food engineering.

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Romanian-Hungarian chimney cake bakes on a spit that looks eerily similar to a device used for making tacos al pastor at the TwisterCake stall.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

An especially popular treat is the twisted potato, aka the tornado potato, originally made popular in the streets of South Korea at the same type of night market that the Queens Night Market pays homage.

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A skewer with sliced potatoes gets fried, then brushed with seasonings and served — a particularly good treat if you’re also handling a baby carriage.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

There are sweet options as well, of course — Janie’s pie-crust cookies might be the best thing I ate all night. There’s an almost puff pastry-like consistency, which makes them shockingly light considering they’re also filled with pie filling.

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I got a blueberry and a cherry-peach. They were outstanding, and somehow cost just $2 apiece — a criminally-low price for such an amazing cookie, doubly so in New York City.
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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

Another particularly popular stall: Caribbean Street Eats, which serves up a fried shark sandwich alongside homemade juices.

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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

If I’m being honest, I was barely able to scratch the surface of the many delights at the Queens Night Market — with over 50 food vendors, many serving multiple items, it’s simply not possible to be exhaustive without many, many visits.

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Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

The good news is you can experience the Queens Night Market yourself for free — this weekend! — through October 26. Check out a tour of the market below that our friends at Insider put together in 2018: