Located at 14100 US Hwy. 19 N at Clearwater’s Little Saigon Plaza, a night market chock full of Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian delicacies will pop up every Saturday and Sunday night starting on June 3. It’s free-to-attend and kid friendly, and will run from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. both nights.
From boba teas, spring rolls and barbecue to specialty desserts, papaya salad and Vietnamese-style crawfish—the newly-launched Saigon Summer Night Market is a great place to sample a variety of made-to-order street foods.
Market organizer Lew Nguyen moved from California to Tampa Bay two years ago with the intention to start a business, and his dreams of creating a family-friendly gathering space have finally come into fruition.
“I noticed that there weren't many vendors or Asian markets like there were in California," Nguyen tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. "I created this night market because it's good for the local community and helps families and kids come together."
He also helps out at Clearwater's Little Saigon Plaza with maintenance and other responsibilities, so he’s able to work alongside the various restaurants and businesses adjacent to his night market.
Nguyen hosted his first street food market in the beginning of May, but took a few weeks off to restructure and organize it using the feedback he received from his first—somewhat overwhelming—wave of customers.
“Over 1,000 people from different parts of Florida attended the first market, I was shocked that people would drive hours to come here,” Nguyen says.
Some of the vendors that attendees can expect at next weekend’s market include boba slingers Bambu, Tampa’s Gao Restaurant, Thuy Cafe, Juju Taiyaki, T & T’s Pho, Quan Ngon FL, JuMary Eats and Basil & Rosemary—alongside a dozen more small businesses slinging a variety of Southeast Asian fare.
Nguyen emphasizes that although a majority of his vendors specialize in Asian cuisines, he accepts folks from all backgrounds at his weekly market. One of its newest vendors is Tacos El Jamon, which dishes out loaded birria tacos and other Mexican fare.
Nguyen says some of the small businesses at his market also vend at the new Friday night Laotian market and the weekly Pinellas Farmers and Flea Market—which is located down the street from the Saigon Summer Night Market. So if you frequent either of those Asian foodie destinations, chances are you’ll see a few familiar faces.
He tells CL that his weekend night markets are just the first iteration of a much larger idea, since he wants to move locations eventually and expand programming to include live entertainment and kids activities, too.
For the latest information about its vendor list, head to Saigon Summer Night Market’s Facebook page, where updates are posted regularly.
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