‘Taste of Bushwick’ at the Bushwick Starr

First bite: Bushwick gets a food fest

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Consider it a rite of passage.

The Bushwick Starr Theater is hosting the first “Taste of Bushwick” in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood on June 16. Similar “taste of” events have already been taking place in a number of other neighborhoods for years, and the organizers of the Bushwick feast said the idea had been simmering for a long time at the decade-old theater.

“We’ve wanted to do this for years but have been waiting for the right moment,” said the theater’s head enchilada, Sue Kessler. “In the last couple years, the neighborhood has had an explosion of restaurants and bars and a culinary scene.”

Attendees can eat and drink their fill from 14 food and beverage purveyors who call Bushwick home. And won’t just be recent hipster transplants, either — the 70-year-old Circo’s Pastry Shop and local legend Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos are both coming to the table. Hot dog fans can also pig out on some links from Williamsburg’s iconic Boar’s Head Provision Company.

The theater had to turn away a medley of food joints for the blowout buffet because there simply wasn’t enough room — a testament to the neighborhood’s booming food scene, said Kessler.

“Restaurants are springing up so quickly — even though we’re in the neighborhood, its hard to keep track,” she said.

One newer neighborhood vendor that managed to secure a coveted place on the menu is Arepas Guacuco. The Venezuelan eatery, which has been at the corner of Irving Avenue and Troutman Street for four years, will sling beef and veggie versions of its eponymous specialty, an owner said. And the traditional snacks should jibe with the neighborhood’s increasingly chic sensibilities, too.

“They’re made from 100 percent corn flour, which is really cool because they’re gluten-free,” said Arepas Guacuco owner Leonardo Molina.

Tasters will get a show with their dinner, too. Performance artist Johari Jenkins will provide an “ambient puppet parade” — working the room with her hand-powered hombres. Kessler said the playhouse couldn’t cook up an event without adding a dash of theater.

“We wanted to remind people they are in a theater without cramping the style too much,” she said.

After the tasting, the whole party will fend off the itis with a trip to nearby music venue Radio Bushwick for a free, open-to-the-public concert.

If things go well, expect seconds — organizers are looking to move the feast to Maria Hernandez Park to accommodate more people in the future, Kessler said.

“Taste Of Bushwick” at the Bushwick Starr (207 Starr St. between Irving and Wyckoff avenues in Bushwick, June 16 at 6:30. $40.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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