Published in The Herts Advertiser 7 May 2018
Have you discovered the lovely Street Food Social in Harpenden yet? It is a pop-up event on the common in front of Lussmann’s on Saturday evenings and it has a lovely atmosphere and great food. I loved the bunting, painted fabric signs around the trees and funky trucks – it’s a small market but there is something for everyone to eat here.
I spoke to Emilio who set up the event in August last year; they are now back for this summer. You might know Emilio as he was co-owner of The Vine Leaves; he now sells the delicious falafel and shawarma they were known for from his distinctive blue food truck in Harpenden centre and at the Street Food Social. Emilio explained that he was keen to set up an event for Harpenden locals that everyone could go to including families and teens, and when I went along there was an excellent atmosphere, with straw bales on the grass for you to relax on and live music. There are about six vendors each time, including a bar and a good range of foods. There is plenty of space for picnic rugs and buggies too.
The Harpenden Street Food Social is held on the third Saturday of each month until 9pm so is a great option to get the family out at the weekend and far cheaper than many local restaurants. There is a bar stall that sells Prosecco, beers and wine and a few soft drinks too. My girls love pancakes and the French crepes stall Pause Gourmande was doing well with their range of sweet and savoury pancakes.
We really lack Mexican restaurants locally so the Baja Cantina truck is a good option for a fix of tacos, nachos and quesidillas – I like the menu written on a surf board. The nachos piled with veggie chilli for 4 pounds is a good-value option. You can design your taco to suit you, with salsa, guacamole, cheese, chipotle, slow-cooked chilli beef, steak, prawns with lime, chilli chicken or veggie beans for about 6 pounds.
Jack’s Smoke Shack does pulled pork, sausage, beef brisket and pitt beans, all with slaw. They also do mac n’ cheese which is vegetarian but hardly a healthier option, made with elbow macaroni, three cheeses and a cheese and panko crumb topping.
If you go along do check out the Riverford stall – getting a veg box delivered is a really easy way to cut down on your plastic consumption and they deliver to your door.
Emilio’s own van sells chicken or lamb shawarma or falafel with salad, fresh herbs, pickled vegetables and sauces (tahini and garlic) in a wrap. I used to love the falafel at The Vine Leaves and it really is lovely cooked freshly and eaten as street food as it is all over Israel and Turkey. It’s vegan as well, if you hold off on the yoghurt dressing. At around 5 each, it is a great family meal option; the grilled halloumi wraps were popular with my kids. Emilio and gang also pop up at food festivals and do private events; I last saw him at the Sustainable St Albans Know How fair. You can contact him via the Harpenden Street Food Social facebook page if you want the truck for a wedding or party.
People often say there isn’t enough to do in the town centres in the evenings around here, especially for families, so I hope you are able to go along and support this social event. The next one is the 19th May (12-9) so let’s hope for a gorgeous sunny day.