Top Street Food Vendors of 2021
The year 2021 will go down as one that most operators in the Restaurant Industry would rather quickly forget. Operators struggled to stay open, much less make money. Lockdowns at the beginning and end of the year sandwiching a phenomenal summer period demonstrated the potential of the restaurant industry when consumers will be able to once again congregate freely.
As they say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And we have found a few street food operators who have overcome these massive headwinds to create extremely innovative concepts that we think are hitting on consumer trends and thus worthy of being included in Inspire’s Top Street Food Vendors of 2021.
How do you make it on our list? You need to have a burning and relentless desire for creativity and the endless pursuit of innovation – to continuously experiment and create delicious meals for our demanding foodie community. These winners below are great examples of what it takes to succeed in the restaurant industry.
During this very difficult time for the gastro industry, we encourage you all to support these and other worthy restaurant entrepreneurs who continue to work endless hours in pursuit of creating your next delicious dining experience.
MAREK IGNACIUK – Fat Daddy Banh Mi + Sando Rice Express Warsaw
Marek is one of Poland’s food truck and street food pioneers and he is the only repeat winner from last year’s list of Top Street Food Vendors of Poland. Marek is famous for his Soul Food burger restaurant, which he launched in the Hala Koszyki food hall five years ago. Marek expanded Soul Food into Elektrownia Powisle food hall consistently generating top turnover among the 12 operators in the hall. Marek is also the founder of Shiso Ramen on Koszykowa street in Warsaw, serving what is arguably Warsaw’s best Ramen. Marek made our 2021 list due to two innovative concepts he founded in Fabrkya Norblin’s Food Town: Fat Daddy Banh Mi and Sando Rice Express.
Fat Daddy is the first banh mi–focused restaurant in Poland. Banh mi, a Vietnamese creation with a nod to the French occupiers, places unique and tasty Asian flavors inside fresh French baguette bread creating a delicious, fast-serve, and affordable street food. Sando is a Japanese creation combining nigiri into a rice sandwich, the perfect portable version of sushi and Japanese flavors. Initial consumer reaction in Food town to these concepts is extremely high.
Marek will soon open his first full-service restaurant in Norblin Factory featuring smoked meats, burgers and steak. Keep your eye on Marek as he is always on trend with flavors and one of the better restaurant operators in the country.
LINH NGUYEN – Viet Nem and COM BUI Warsaw
Any lover of Asian street food in Warsaw has for sure already enjoyed food from this restaurant guru: she now has 12 restaurants opened in Warsaw! Linh and her family are behind some of the most authentic Asian restaurants on Warsaw’s high streets: Vietnamka, Koreanka, To To Pho, and Pho 2. Most recently, she has been featured in Vogue magazine for her most challenging effort, a premium Japanese restaurant called Japonka in Browary Warszawskie. However, as we are here to applaud street food cuisine efforts, Linh has made our list for her two recent openings of Viet Nem in Food Hall Browary, posh street food and the more pedestrian sister, COM BUI Vietnamese street food in Norblin’s Food Town. Linh is an extremely hands-on operator who you will find inside one of her restaurants every day checking on food quality and her loyal team. If you truly want authentic Asian street food, check out any of Linh’s restaurants in Warsaw. Rumor is that she is working on a coconut-based concept that will open sometime this year.’
KUBA TEPPER AND MIN – Kim Chi Ken Poznan
There aren’t many Polish-Korean couples in Poland, but this one is particularly creative (and successful). We met Kuba and Min while doing research for Vastint’s Stara Rzeznia re-developmnet project in Poznan. Kuba and Min are behind the innovative Min’s Table Korean restaurant in the hipster Jeżyce district of Poznan. In early 2021, next to Min’s Table, Kuba and Min opened Kim Chi Ken, a fun and tasty Korean fried chicken restaurant. The Korean war resulted in American soldiers being placed on the Korean island and they brought with them the American favorite of fried chicken. The Koreans one-upped the Americans by using lighter coatings and Asian spices and sauces creating Korean Fried Chicken. Kim Chi Ken serves their delicious creations as chicken wings or strips, sandwiches, or with rice or noodles. Kuba is the marketing brain behind their restaurants and Min is the photogenic chef with a contagious smile creating Instagrammable food. The difference here is that the food actually tastes even better than in the high-quality photographs.
MARCIN JACKOWSKI – Spanish Ticket + Route 66 Gdansk
We discovered Marcin in the Stacja Food Hall in Gdansk with his first concept called Spanish Ticket, which featured delicious and authentic Spanish street food. With wine and beer flowing on the weekends, Spanish tapas is quite popular on the weekends in food halls, but tends to not be as popular during the week.
Marcin intelligently created mid-week favorites that married Spanish-inspired creations like fried shrimp and calamari with aioli placed onto a butter-toasted baguette. Staying with the sandwich theme, Marcin made it onto our 2021 list with his most recent opening of Route 66, an American-inspired sandwich and hot dog concept also located in the Stacja Food Hall.
Route 66 serves traditional American sandwiches featuring pastrami, ribs, and pulled pork combined with some Asian-American fusion dishes like a sandwich with panko oyster mushrooms, marinated turnip, cucumber with sesame oil, kim chi, and spicy mayo. For sure you need to try their Mac & Cheese and American Apple Pie for dessert.
FRANCISCO GALARRAGA – Chimi & Churri Warsaw
We stumbled across this concept as we were looking for a quick, but healthy bite to eat. Located on the ground floor of a tony apartment building on ul. Grzybowska in Warsaw, Chimi & Churri was founded by Francisco Galarraga as a solution to losing his job due to Covid. You may know that chimichurri is that Argentinean combination of parsley, garlic, red pepper, oregano, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Chimichurri is a delicious dipper for empanadas. Francisco’s Chimi & Churri concept features meat and veggie empanadas and authentic Argentinean desserts. Empanada combinations include Argentinean favorites like Malbec-marinated beef and creamed corn and onion with some Polish favorites including ham and cheese and tomato and cheese.
The quick-serve, warm, hand-held and affordable empanadas make Chimi & Churri a perfect street food concept. For dessert, Chimi features traditional alfajores Argentinian cookies. Francisco is the passionate entrepreneur behind the concept and Augustina is the loyal right hand providing friendly skillful service in the shop. Their warm and welcoming Argentinean hospitality make every visit to the Chimi & Churri one of the more enjoyable quick bite stops in Warsaw.