Most items on my 28 Things have been one-timers, things that, once finally scheduled with the people who have been dying to do them with me, only take a few hours. This list item was more of a challenge than that. Emily suggested that I eat food trucks for the entire weekend – three meals a day, each day of the weekend, only from food trucks, but because Emily knows me so well, I was allowed to supplement with late night cheese fries if I found it necessary to do so (which I did on Saturday night). Challenge accepted.
#22 Eat from food trucks for a whole weekend
Friday Dinner – Usually at happy hour with the biddies, I fill up on the bar’s homemade popcorn and chips while sipping vodka-sprites, but I started my challenge right after work and didn’t allow myself to eat them this time. Not snacking actually got me a little more tipsy than usual so when I finally realized I needed to go home, I skipped down to the Urban Lobster Shack truck hanging out on Greenwich Street in Tribeca which I had seen earlier that day. It was a little late and when I got there I had to knock on the window. “Are you still serving?” I asked, anxiously. “For you? Yes.” said the kind gentleman inside. I ordered the Garlic Lobster Roll for $14 but you have to treat yo’self once in a while (or every day). This truck hangs around work quite frequently in the spring, so I knew what I was in for. I hopped in a cab and went home to enjoy it the garlicky meaty treat.
Saturday Breakfast – I knew from Twitter that Cinnamon Snail, a vegan truck a friend recommended, was going to be in Union Square so I headed over there when I woke up. The order in my head changed about five times while waiting in line because there was so much on the menu that I found intriguing. I settled with the blue corn pancakes with pine nut butter and Vermont maple syrup ($9), the salted Caramel Dutch Cocoa Coffee ($3), and the 2011 Vendy Award winner: the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Creme Brûlée Doughnut ($3). I think that I was given a regular coffee instead of the specialty one I ordered, but the rest of the meal was absolutely fantastic. I would eat those pancakes any day of the week. If you ate the doughnut each day, you’d be way too sugared up, but no wonder it’s award-winning. It had a creme brûlée burnt sugar hard topping and a surprisingly amazing whiskey-flavored cream in the middle.
Saturday Lunch – I hung out around Union Square after breakfast to run some errands, buy some new running gear, catch up with the ‘rents on the phone, sign a few petitions, and watch a movie being filmed. There was a Gorilla Cheese (cute) truck parked right in front of Cinnamon Snail so I thought I might as well cross lunch off my list while I was there, even if it was only a few hours after my filling breakfast. I ordered the Spicy Buffalo Chicken with smoked mozzarella on white bread combo for $10 which came with tater tots and a drink. I ended up bringing it home and popping it in the toaster oven a little later. The tots were probably from a bag, but were still good, and the sandwich could easily hold its own in a grilled cheese competition.
Saturday Dinner – This was my biggest challenge of the weekend. I walked uptown to a few spots where I thought food trucks might congregate – Madison Square Park, Herald Square, around Penn Station, but didn’t find anything. Maybe on a normal spring or summer day they would be there, but I was having trouble this particular chilly evening. I passed several hot dog, pretzel, and halal carts, but I felt like these didn’t count toward the challenge because they weren’t “trucks” and didn’t even have Twitter feeds. After an hour of walking and cursing Emily in my head (JK girl, lub you), I ended up walking back down to Union Square to see if a raw food truck I had seen hanging around earlier was still there. I found myself at The Squeeze and wasn’t entirely hungry yet from my late lunch so I got a PB&J bottled shake with “alkalized water, organic raspberries, organic strawberries, organic peanut butter, organic dates, organic maca, hemp protein, and himalayan sea salt” for $8. For sounding so healthy, it was actually really yummy and just what I needed before a night out.
Sunday Breakfast – I meant to eat from different food trucks the whole weekend, but Kater stayed over and we went back to Union Square to eat, figuring we’d find something different, but the only truck there at the time was Cinnamon Snail again. The other breakfast truck I would have gone to, any of the fabulous Wafels and Dinges trucks (which I eat at least twice a month), were all the way uptown or in Queens, so I decided this was okay, as long as I ordered something different. This time, I got the Classic Breakfast Burrito with scrambled tofu, refried beans, pico de gallo, and avocado ($8), a mint chocolate coffee with vegan marshmallows ($3) and the truck guy’s favorite pastry, a Raspberry Blowout doughnut ($3). I liked the pancakes the day before better, but the burrito was flavorful and nothing to shake a fist at.
Sunday Lunch – I wandered over to SoHo mid-afternoon and found myself surrounded by trucks. I clearly should have gone down there Saturday evening when I was looking for dinner, but it all worked out. I got a late lunch from Phil’s Steaks. I ordered the American Steak with white American cheese for $6.75 plus a Snapple for $2. I liked that this truck had two sizes, I felt like I had been getting too large of servings from all the other places. I didn’t love the sandwich, but I think that’s an aspect of the cheesesteak as a food in general. So this shouldn’t be a reflection of the truck. I just prefer my red meat in other forms.
Sunday Snack – I felt a little guilty about going to the same place for breakfast both days, so when I passed the NYC Love Truck, I decided to get a drink. I ordered a mint hot chocolate for $3.75 and was really happy about both the warmth and the taste.
Sunday Dinner – After hanging out around SoHo for a little bit, I went to the Tribeca Taco Truck (a misnomer, since it wasn’t in Tribeca) which was parked right down the street from Phil’s Steaks. The $3 tacos intrigued me because the prices were so much cheaper than all my other meals. They were out of a few things but I ordered a Pollo Asado taco with grilled seasoned chicken and a Carnitas taco with slow braised pork, both with avocado and chipotle crema sauces. I brought this home with me and reheated it later and was pleasantly surprised. The tacos were delicious, I think I had been expecting just average food since they were so inexpensive.
Sunday Dessert – I walked down to one more colorful truck before heading back to my place, not knowing what it was, and it turned out to be the Brooklyn Popcorn Truck. I sampled the ketchup popcorn, but ended up ordering a bag with a mix of jalapeno and cheddar flavors. They also had salt and vinegar, butter, and caramel popcorn. The bags cost $5 and I will definitely be going back to that truck. The jalapeno has quite a kick and smells a lot and people on the subway looked at me strangely when I got on because of the smell, but it is kind of addicting.
My favorite out of all of these? Good question. The food item I’m thinking about the most right now is the blue corn pancakes from Cinnamon Snail. I would actually eat from all of these again, except maybe Phil’s Truck but again, this is just because I don’t like cheesesteaks that much. Cheesesteak fans should still try it out.
It was more challenging to find food trucks in an unusually cold March weekend than in the middle of summer. I kept seeing trucks from afar and then walking up to them to find out they were ConEd or piping trucks of some sort. This was especially disappointing Saturday evening. I also had tweeted a bunch of trucks I’d been dying to try who tweeted me back saying that they weren’t open on the weekends. A travesty if there ever is one. I’ll have to try them all sometime when I have time during the week instead.
What do I think is one of the most important components of a good food truck? Charming employees. The most charming of all the trucks I went to was definitely one of the guys at Brooklyn Popcorn Truck who kind of made my day. Second place goes to the guy at the Cinnamon Snail who I got to see twice. Email me, gentlemen.