Over the last ten years in New York, there has been an explosion of food trucks and their image has become ever more gourmet. Far from being a dodgy choice, they provide a good alternative for the al fresco crowd. Who wants to book in advance when you can find quality, delectable, experimental cuisine on any street? Of the 5,100 mobile food vendor licences on offer, the city of New York issues 500 to food trucks.
You can always try a traditional hot dog stand tomorrow, but these are my top five NYC food truck recommendations:
Calexico Food Cart on Prince & Wooster advertises ‘gourmet Mexican food’ and it’s one of the best eating experiences you’ll have in New York. It began as the brainchild of three brothers from the Mexican-Californian border who struggled to find authentic cuisine from back home as New York transplants. The Calexico Food Cart was born. The instigator of the food truck resurgence in NYC, they now have three carts and four brick-and-mortar locations around the city. Try the crack sauce and become a crack sauce addict. I prefer it on the side for dipping but you can buff up your burrito by including it when you order. Many have had a religious experience while eating the Chipotle pulled pork taco – it’s that good.
Rhong Tiam Thai Food Truck on 5th Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets, near Madison Square Park, is great for good Thai food on the go. Questlove from The Roots is a huge fan and if it’s good enough for Questlove, it’s good enough for anyone. You can’t go wrong with one of their $10 pad thai options; all of the ingredients are very fresh and the flavours are delicious. It’s tough to find a more flavoursome option in this area at this price, and it beats queuing around the park for a Shake Shack burger.
Red Hook Lobster Pound makes the best lobster roll in the city – in my opinion. It was voted the Best Food Truck in America in 2013. They offer both Maine-style rolls which come cold with mayo, and Connecticut-style: warm with butter. The rolls are toasted to perfection and the lobster is incredibly succulent; I’m salivating just thinking about it. Your other options include lobster mac ‘n cheese and shrimp rolls. The lobster rolls may be a little more expensive at around $17 but well worth it if you’re a seafood fan. And make sure you leave room for Steve’s Key Lime Pie. Their schedule is subject to last-minute changes so follow them on Twitter for locations and updates.
With summer just around the corner, this food truck will start to see queues around the block once again. Van Leeuwen is my favourite ice cream truck and I’m fortunate to have one just five blocks from my apartment (along Bedford Avenue at North 8th in Williamsburg). These ice cream makers have become so popular that in addition to their pale yellow food trucks, you can find some permanent locations around the city, but I still love to stop along the street and pick up a cone for nostalgic reasons. My addiction to their vegan chocolate ice cream started when I was pregnant with my daughter three years ago. It’s as creamy and delicious as its non-vegan counterpart; you simply cannot tell the difference. I also highly recommend the Earl Grey Tea and Pistachio flavours. You’ll find a second truck in SoHo on Prince and Green Street.
I have to mention The Cinnamon Snail, which was one of the best food trucks in New York. Great vegan Thai- and Korean-inspired dishes – everything from their Gouchujang Burger to their Thai BBQ Tempah is sumptuous and don’t get me started on their doughnuts and pastries (all freshly baked with about 30 different varieties that change daily). The Cinnamon Snail had trouble renewing its street vendor licence but much to the delight of many a New Yorker, it can now be found permanently in The Pennsy (33rd Street & 7th Ave).
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