I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published August 1st 2011
Take a selection of high-quality ingredients, mix them with a talented chef, a tiny kitchen on wheels, and eight million people and you end up with New York's most popular street food trend: gourmet food trucks. In fact, if you're a food vendor in New York City, this is your renaissance. Even companies that began as mobile food vendors like Mexicue, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck have gone from wheeling around town to finding permanent brick and mortar locations in just one season. Some, like Mexicue, have opened two: one in Chelsea and one on the Lower East Side.
Mexicue has among the most unique tastes going in Mexican. We loved its pulled-pork sliders smothered in crispy cabbage and dribbled with homemade guacamole and savory BBQ sauce. At just $3, they are easily among the most satisfying little devils on the island. Fortunately, the Mexicue trucks are still rolling (even though the restaurants have taken off to a rousing success) and keep a fairly typical schedule, though you can also locate them via daily updates on their Twitter feed.
Those looking for something as equally delicious should try the lobster roll sandwiches from Red Hook Lobster Pound. This Brooklyn fishery, which imports its lobster fresh from Maine, has been making lobster rolls by the dozens. Lines are long, but the taste is worth the wait. More than 75,000 lobsters have been turned out since its opening in 2009. Recognized as one of the brightest entrepeneurs on the food vending scene, Red Hook Lobster Pound trucks can be found at various spots in Manhattan, such as the Hell's Kitchen Food Truck Rally in midtown, and in Brooklyn at The Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg. You can also follow the Red Hook Lobster Pound Twitter feed.
Italian cuisine, known for being a slow-food favorite, has so far escaped becoming a street-food phenomenon, but Eddie's Pizza Truck is a close second. Delicious homemade tomato sauce tops these thin-crusted personal pizzas, which cost about $7 and easily feed two. The varieties abound, but we loved the old cheesy classic. You can find Eddie's Pizza Truck at regular locations, such as under the High Line, or check out their monthly schedule here or look them up via their Twitter feed.
Those who love Asian food will enjoy the savory dumplings from Rickshaw Dumplings for one of the most perfectly compact meals ever. For a satisfying lunch, try the dumplings and one-side special for $6. For just slightly more than a five spot, you get six dumplings in your choice of three varieties: Pork and Chinese Chive, Chicken and Thai Basil, or Vegetarian Edamane paired with either a Chili Sesame Noodle Salad, an Asian Green Salad, Chilled Edamame, or Miso Soup. Light and perfect for on-the-go summer eating. Look for the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck via its Twitter feed.
Southern California Mexican fare from Calexico has long been a New York secret. Once found only in select temporary food haunts like Madison Park Eats in the Flat Iron District, this popular vendor offers a wide variety of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas filled with delicious ingredients like marinated grilled skirt steak and ancho-cumin spiced ground beef. Prices range from $3 to $9 and portions are large enough to split. Look for Calexico carts in SoHo (corner of Wooster and Prince), Flat Iron (Twenty-fourth Street and Broadway) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (Furman and Old Fulton Streets) while two other full-service restaurants serve Brooklyn in Greenpoint and Red Hook.
Odds are that once you've eaten your way through Latin America and South Asia, you'll eventually have a desire for icy cold treats. Worry not, since the city heat often gives way to inspired takes on ice cream and a host of other frozen delicacies. One of our favorites this season is the ultra portable and street-friendly ice cream sandwich from Cool Haus that we tried in Chelsea. Delicious and creamy strawberry ice cream is packed tightly into two homemade chocolate cookies. It's just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and small enough to eat before melting into a crumbly mess. Bonus: Cool Haus is now located near the new roller rink under the High Line at Thirtieth Street in addition to other locations like those in Central Park. For the latest Cool Haus locations, follow its Twitter feed.
If ice cream isn't your thing (but you still want to cool off in the streets) look no further than Kelvin Natural Slush Co., a 2010 Vendy Award winner. Just one year old, this classic sounding company offers just what the doctor ordered: a great selection of customizable frozen treats in three distinctive flavors that include Spicy Ginger, Tangy Citrus, and Green & Black Tea. Best of all, customers can add real fruit mix-ins like apricot, mango, cherry, strawberry, white peach and more to create one-of-a-kind frozen fruit concoctions that you'll likely want to duplicate again and again. Check for the daily locations of Kelvin Natural Slush Co. by following its Twitter feed.
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and Rickshaw Dumplings are two of my favs. Some people knock the food from food trucks, but in many cases it's better than some take out places or restaurants in the area. You can also see them making it right there so you know exactly how it's prepared.
By L.R. - senior writer Tuesday, 6th of September @ 10:22 am