|Now that is a decadent sandwich|
5. Smack Shack
The depth and breadth of what a sandwich can contribute to a day cannot be overstated. A great sandwich is a sum of lovingly compiled ingredients that leaves a diner with a Gene Kelly spring in his step. Imagine, then, what a lobster roll from the Smack Shack -- somewhere in the stratosphere above "great" -- can do for you. A roll of split, butter-redolent bread is crammed with chunks of tender lobster that has been mixed with crunchy cucumber in a lemon-tarragon aioli. Each bite is decadent and rich and as bright as a seaside morning. As if that isn't wonderful enough, another dish served off this truck is the lobster mac and cheese: more lobster tossed with little elbows of pasta and pulled together by pungent taleggio cheese. These are two dishes worth dreaming of, and that's just a tiny dose of the menu. Thankfully, we can find the Smack Shack food from the back of their truck, inside the 1029 Bar, and soon we can begin lining up outside the Loop neighborhood restaurant quickly taking shape. We are very rich, indeed.
|Chef Shack: the ladies who set the high standard of food truck fare|
4. Chef Shack
All through the cold months, we dream of spring for many reasons, and one of the main ones is the Chef Shack. When Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer pull their trucks out of their wintry slumber and hit the streets, it's time for a hand-pattied bison burger, a tongue taco, or a pulled pork sandwich made with meats from the best local vendors. Carlson and Summer put a gourmet/sustainable spin on street food favorites like the Indian-spiced mini donuts. These two blazed the trails for many of the other up-and-coming trucks by using sustainable purveyors and taking seemingly humble dishes, giving them a fine-dining twist, and delivering some of the most crave-worthy treats ever to arrive in a paper boat.
|Sliders, great vegetarian options, this truck has what you like|
Not many trucks extend the courtesy of bringing a table for two to set up in front of their location, with a killer playlist lending the impression of dining curbside at a fine restaurant. Chef Stephen Trojahn changes the menu on the Gastrotruck often and is firing on all his chef-honed cylinders. He balances his menu with the sorts of things that get the gastronomes swooning without forgetting that great food doesn't have to be all about the pork belly. (Although, damn, is his pork belly tasty.) His menu always includes a little vegetarian love, like the super-savory black bean burgers, or the triumphant smoked trout sliders. At this truck, the delight is in the details: the house-made condiments like pickled cucumbers and onions, or the stout-enhanced stone-ground mustard. Chef Trojahn and partner Catherine Eckert partner with local producers and are proud to serve local, sustainably sourced ingredients in biodegradable containers. Gastrotruck can be found in both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
2. World Street Kitchen
Life begins in the Yum Yum bowl. Chef Sameh Wadi's take on a Korean rice bowl is a comforting bowl of luscious flavors, mixed with Chinese broccoli, shitake mushrooms, herbs, secret sauce, and a choice of meat with a soft-cooked egg, all nestled in the heart of this dish, giving it a powerful, creamy soul. This alone would be enough to make the trip to this truck -- soon to be restaurant in Uptown. Every dish this truck serves is a flavor assault on the senses, like the aggressively spicy jerk seasoning on the tender beef that's then cooled with the creamy, crunchy, fresh slaw. Look for World Street Kitchen to be parked just off Nicollet Mall and Fifth Street in downtown Minneapolis.
1. Hola Arepa
It's hard to remember the days before the food trucks, before we took our lunches from paper boats, hunched over, ineffective napkins crumpled in our fists. We'd prefer to never return to a life without them. A summer isn't complete without several collective hours spent waiting outside the bright turquoise Hola Arepa truck for quick-griddled corn cakes stuffed with savory ingredients, washed down by one of Arepa's refreshing and creatively flavored drinks. The dishes aren't anything likely to be attempted at home on a weeknight: succulent, slow-roasted Fischer Farms pork or Kadejan Farms chicken, married with ever-so-tender stewed beans and crumbling white queso fresco, all packed into the delicate crumb interior of the arepas. Everything is expertly and lovingly executed (using sustainable resources) by Christina Ngyuen and Birk Stefan Grudem. With her background at the Style Laboratory and his from Bradstreet Craftshouse, each item put forth, from the hot sauces to cuy cones to rhubarb ginger lemonade, is carefully designed to make our world a little more enjoyable.
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