Festival highlights the cuisine of Jackson Heights
by Andrew Shilling
Sep 25, 2014 | 6511 views | 0 0 comments | 176 176 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Viva La Comida
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Jackson Heights native Elisa Lopez, 25, was just one of hundreds that gathered to try some of the street food on display at the third annual Viva la Comida Festival.

Lopez and her friends waited on the winding line for nearly 30-minutes to get a taste of the legendary dishes offered at the Arepa Lady food truck.

“We were just talking about how neat it is to support her since she just opened up her own restaurant,” Lopez said. “Arepas are something I grew up with, so seeing it rise to this level of popularity is a point of a lot of pride.”

Although the 7-train was running on a limited schedule, hindering what could have been an even larger turnout for the festival, Lopez said she was nevertheless excited to see the turnout at 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

“It’s just a great time to support the vendors, come together for music,” Lopez said. “I’ve already bumped into high school, college friends and elementary school friends.”

Jeff Orlick, curator of the festival, said there would have been more food trucks this year, but he had a hard time getting local vendors to leave their spot since many of them have such a die-hard following in the community.

“They’re very loyal,” Orlick explained. “And that’s the idea of this; these are vendors that don’t typically move out of their home locations. For them it’s a leap of faith, but for us, it’s very exciting.”

Part of the success was in part thanks to $5,000 in funding from local Councilman Daniel Dromm.

“One of the things that I want to do is to promote this hip neighborhood as a destination for people to come to,” Dromm said. “We’ve got a lot to offer here and I think this is one of the things that people should know about.”

82nd Street Partnership director Seth Taylor celebrated his final week with the business improvement district. He will be heading the NoHo Business Improvement in Manhattan.

“We’re trying to harness the diversity of the neighborhood and bring it all together in this festival, “ Taylor said. “We have Colombian, Ecuadorian, Chinese, Nepalese; it’s all here right on 82nd Street, so it’s a great one-stop-shop for everyone to come out and sample the best.”

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