This place is so cool. Anyone who hasn't been yet, GO. I have been twice now this year and when I'm not stuffing my face and having a great time, I'm kicking myself for waiting until this year to finally get down there. Now I'm leaving NYC in a few months and could have been enjoying this for years. Don't be a fool like me!
OK enough lecturing. The food. So good, so cheap. Take $20 and you will need to be rolled home with a stick at the end of the day.
The main grouping of food stand is on the corner of Bay and Clinton Streets. The stands extend down Clinton a bit to the south, further along Bay to the east (they almost go to the end of the block, to Court Street). It's kind of confusing/difficult to desribe exactly which stand is which but those parameters should help.
Starting at the far eastern end of Bay Street, almost where it meets Court, these are my favorite things:
1. Ceviche mixto at the ceviche place. Easy to locate as this is the only place with ceviche and they have clear signage. The mixto has shrimp, squid, octopus, and fish and is really outstanding. You get a portion that would probably run you at least $12 in any restaurant for a mere $5.
2. Beef skewers and empanadas at the Colombian place. The empanada is beef and fried golden. Beef on a skewer sounds dull but TRUST ME, it's probably the best quality-for-value item at the Ballfields and one of the most delicious. My husband swears by it. Four huge chunks of tender, delicious grilled steak that just melts in your mouth for $2. I cannot stress enough the quality of the meat. It is positively buttery. They tend to serve it medium to medium-rare, so if you like it better done, bear it in mind and ask her to leave it on the grill a little longer.
3. Pupusas at the first El Salvadorean place. There are two places. Both make good pupusas but I think the one closer to Court Street has the edge. They definitely have better cole slaw. I always get the mixed pork and cheese. One is $2. You'll see a lot of people making thir meal of 3 of these but I like to stick with one to allow for more extensive face-stuffing elsewhere. PLUS they have this INCREDIBLE drink made from the fruit of a cashew (plant? tree?). It's in a big orange igloo cooler type thing (the thing they dump gatorade over coaches' heads from) at the far end of the table. $2 for a huge cup.
4. Huaraches at the Mexican place on Bay, one stall down from the corner of Bay and Clinton. The place catty-corner on Clinton has them too but I think this place has the edge. Huaraches are available with beef or spicy pork and I think I saw chicken too. Get "con todos" to get crema and lettuce and queso blanco sprinkled on top. These are $4 and huge - really good for sharing. They also have quesadillas that look great but I haven't tried one yet.
5. Fresh juices and drinks at the stall a few down from the corner on Clinton. They have lots of different fresh juices, like pineapple, orange, lemonade, as well as horchata. These come in a various sizes and are delicious. $1 and up.
6. Goat tacos at the Mexican place on the very end of Clinton. They didn't have these this time around but did last time. "Con todos" is the way to go. This table has probably the best selection of add-on condiments of all. I think the goat taco was $2 or $3??
There is a lot more to try and I have only been on Sundays - I here there is even more on Saturdays. My goals are to a) go on a Saturday and b) try to commit to a larger, complete dish - I see people getting stews and stuff with rice and veggies and plaintains but I feel addicted to the variety affored by the more finger-food type stuff. Also lots of people have homemade tamarind drink that looks great, and grilled corn abounds.
Un-food-related: Check out the soccer being played. The standard is hugh and the matches are really entertaining. Marvel at how these guys come off the pitch at halftime and eat this food and go right back out there and run for a solid 45 minutes and not only don't double over with cramps, but actually play pretty damn good football.