Top 10 street eats in the Twin Cities

Categories: Food Truck, Top 10

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Joy Summers
Where food trucks rally, we follow
People called them a fad, but as a new truck or trailer seems to pop up every day, it's hard to argue with the popular food delivery system. Many of these new street food purveyors are serving food just as good and sometimes better than stand-alone restaurants. We'll admit it; we are smitten with the street food scene. Seeking them out requires the cunning and flexibility of a great treasure hunt. Not everyone has the appetite for passing through mediocre spots to discover the good ones, so we've taken the guesswork out by listing the top 10 consistently outstanding street food sellers. To track them down, check out our food truck map.

10. Fork in the Road
Unlike most trucks, which park for the cold months and enjoy a little break, Kari Offerdahl and Amy Freschette continue to pilot their bright orange truck through the soggy streets all year round.  It's a special kind of crazy that drives their homey comfort food straight to our stomachs by way of our hearts.  Their brand of homemade food, such as their luscious pulled pork tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches, are the lunch equivalent of a warm hug. Their bacony take on a BLT, slathered in their avocado aioli, is straight-up comfort food with a little sideways kick of the unexpected.

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Vellee Deli serves Asian Mexican fusion
9.  Vellee Deli
This sleek black beauty hit the streets last summer, and the lines quickly followed. Vellee Deli also gets around; it  can be found in downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul and, soon in Dinkytown, summoning the hungry with the mingling scents of Asian and Mexican cuisines. It brings the world together with its burritos. The  Korean burrito combines braised, soy-and-sesame-seasoned short ribs with zesty kimchi, comingled with gently seasoned white rice, fresh romaine lettuce, and smoky-hot salsa. Or the Chicken Currito, red-curry-seasoned chicken and potatoes with just a whisper of sweetness and a nice bit of heat. Everything is tucked into a mammoth flour tortilla and served with a cheerful, "Have a Vellee good day!" It also has solid bahn mi, crisp, devourable eggrolls, tacos, and even a couple of quesadillas. The layers of hot, tart, charred flavors will send you away on a taste-sensation high.

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Dog man Nathan Beck and his tasty mustard
8. Natedogs
Nathan Beck is a hot dog aficionado. Each year the father of five young girls would embark on a State Fair sojourn in search of his most beloved fair food item, the foot-long hot dog. He proudly declares that one year he ate eight. That's a lot of meat. An idea began to percolate: Why not open a hot dog cart? Rather than the usual "dirty water" dog, his would be stocked with the best hot dogs around and topped with condiments he would make himself. Soon that dream became reality, and now he's even peddling his own brand of mustard. The honey mustard is so wonderfully balanced that it's easily savored by everyone from toddlers to oldsters. He often also spikes his mustards with local microbrews, adding extra punchy flavor. From his homemade kraut to caramelized onions to even a begrudgingly shared ketchup (another item occasionally spiked with Minnesota wine), it's all divine, and there is no wrong way to top your dog, although the dapper Beck might tease you a little about a ketchup request. What it all comes down to is the dog. Made with Pastures a' Plenty pork, it has a snappy casing filled with richly flavored meat. Nathan Beck is living every dog lover's dream.

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You must try the ribs
7. 128 Cafe
There are many things to appreciate about the food from the 128 Cafe truck, but let's just skip the formality and get down to the bare bones of the matter: You have to get the ribs. Yes, the sesame beef skewers are incredible, served over that ginger-flavored slaw and dreamy pickled carrots. Yes, the truck does serve many of the seasonal, perfectly balanced dishes available at its neighborhood gem of a restaurant. But no one can say they know the Twin Cities food scene without tasting these ribs. Mahogany colored, enveloped in just a whisper of sauce, perfectly charred, the meat easily separates from the bone. The flavor is smoky, salty, rich, and crispy. Jill Wilson, owner of the restaurant and truck, was also the leader in organizing the initial food truck court last summer, gathering a crew along the streets of downtown St. Paul, giving workers a destination for their Wednesday lunch break from May through September.

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Fast, healthy and delicious food
6. Dandelion Kitchen
Natalie Coleman and Alex Brand believe the world can be a better place. After meeting at Wesleyan College, they discovered a shared passion for travel and food. Soon after graduation, they struck out on an ambitious bike expedition from Prague to Bangkok, collecting experiences and flavors along the way. They soon opened a stand at the Mill City Farmer's Market selling their locally sourced, heavenly tasting foods. As soon as the City Council voted to allow food trucks, they poured everything they had into constructing their sunny little yellow trailer. They opened three years ago and work morning, noon, and night in the warm months, and then pack it all in and go back to traveling the world while the rest of us suckers dig out from our snowbanks. The flavor results of these experiences are homey, sophisticated and exotic all at once. A recent visit included a Mexican-style braised beef, rubbed with coffee and mellow spices. Tender, fall-apart, grass-fed beef was then tucked into a Salty Tart hoagie and topped with a crisp slaw. Menu perennials like the BLT and ham-and-cheese are served on crispy baguettes, laced with adorable little greens. No visit to their cart is complete without a taste of their homemade sodas: always balanced, refreshing, and never overly sweet. Find them at the Mill City Farmers Market and on weekdays on Nicollet outside the IDS building.

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