For the past few weeks, the Stuttgart Street Food Market has been on my radar. The food cart and street food scene is slowly but surely making its way to Germany and Stuttgart was eager to get in on the action. The first annual Stuttgart Street Food Market took place on May 17 at the Nordbahnhof, just off of the city centre.
With visions of food trucks dancing in my head, I draged S out to the Street Food Market this afternoon shortly after it opened. Given that the RSVP count on Facebook was 38,000+ for the one-day-only event, I had the feeling that it was going to be pretty packed.
We took the S-Bahn to the Nordbahnhof station and expected to just follow the crowds to the market area. Surprisingly, there weren’t that many people around the station, but we were able to find a small sign pointing us in the right direction.
We were led up a small hill and over a train bridge into a construction zone. I started to question if we were in the right spot but then the crowds…started. And didn’t end for the rest of the day.
We had to wait in a massive line to get in, but fortunately it moved pretty quickly. We saw security checking people’s bags, so as we approached the front of the line, we decided to chug the small bottle of water that I brought in case they confiscated it, airport security style. It turns out that they only cared about people bringing in glass bottles, so our premature water-chug was unnecessary. Oh well, at least we started off our day hydrated.
We did a quick tour of the area to scout out the best food trucks. There were lots of choices ranging from vegan Indian food to pulled pork sandwiches to traditional Swabian food like Maultaschen (like a big meat-filled ravioli). Given the crowds, we decided to go with a ‘divide and conquer’ approach – S waited in line at the taco truck while I went to find something else for us to share.
Not far away, I found a truck called NippoNoodles, which turns out did not sell noodles at all but rather dim sum. Fortunately, I am a dim sum eating machine, so I guess that was a happy coincidence.
There were 4 items on the menu – Gyoza (with chicken and truffel), Shumai (with shrimp and chili), BBQ pork and Hokkaido salad with wasabi, potato and caviar. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes, I decided to get the first 3 items on the menu since I knew we’d be at the market all day if we only got one thing at each stand. The chef’s eyes widened a little when I placed my order – I guess he thought I was pretty hungry!
I found S back in the taco line where he’d moved approximately 10 metres in the 20 minutes that I was gone. (He confessed that he was actually eyeing the vegan sausage stand nearby with no lineup whatsoever – a pretty dire admission for a certified meat lover!) We ate our dumplings and BBQ pork ‘popsicle’ while waiting in line. Verdict? Delicious! The clear winner was the gyoza – it was extra scrumptious dipped into the sauce for the BBQ pork.
With the sun beating down, we were getting thirsty so I offered to find us some drinks. Most food trucks I saw were only selling food, but there were a few separate stands selling just drinks. Everywhere I looked people were drinking bottles of some kind of pink juice. It turns out it was rhubarb lemonade. I thought it looked pretty tasty so my plan was to order one of those for me and a cola for S. When I got to the front of the line, the guy said they were sold out of both so I ordered two ginger lemonades instead. He opened the bottles for me and I proceeded to find S about 10 metres further along in the taco line. Upon taking my first sip, I realized the drink guy actually gave me two bottles of Apfelschorle, which is basically a fizzy apple drink. Ordering fail. At least it was tasty!
The pursuit of tasty tacos kept us in line for 1 hour total before we were finally able to order. We then had to wait about 20 minutes for our order to be ready. We got 3 tacos (1 steak, 2 chicken) and nachos with guacamole and sour cream to share. Since there weren’t many places to sit, we found a somewhat shady spot behind the taco truck to dig in.
Unfortunately the tacos were pretty dry and the nachos had that concession-stand style fake cheese oozing all over. The jalapeños were a nice addition, but they were the pickled kind you can buy in a jar, not fresh. All in all, I’d say there are probably tastier dishes you can get at a street food market.
My favourite part of the whole market was the overall vibe – good weather, live music, fun food and so many hispters sunglasses I lost count. It really felt like the kickoff to summer!
The next Stuttgart Street Food Market will take place from June 19 – 21 on Türlenstraße. I’m not sure if we’ll go to that one but if you’re thinking of going, I would give the following tips:
- Arrive right when it opens! This will give you the best chance at trying your favourite foods before it gets crowded and before the food trucks sell out of popular items.
- Divide and conquer with a friend – make your plan of attack, split up to wait in different lines, then pick a meeting spot to devour your food together.
- Bring something to drink (but not in a glass bottle) – you’ll get thirsty while waiting.
- Wear sunscreen and bring some sunglasses! I saw more than one sunburn today at the market.
- As always for festivals in Germany, bring cash since few (if any) stands will accept a credit or debit card.
Did you go to the Stuttgart Street Food Market? Is there a street food festival in your city this summer?