Not too long ago, the best mobile food that you could find in New York was waterlogged hot dogs and grilled mystery meat from a smoky halal cart. But the tides are turning and now you can find excellent street food to satisfy even the most finicky of taste buds. We pounded the pavement and narrowed down the selection to our five favorite mobile restaurant choices including authentic schnitzel, artisanal ice cream and even Korean tacos. Now all you have to do is track down the trucks on Twitter and arrive hungry.
Hop on the usually long line at this tiger-striped food cart because this Korean-BBQ-meets-Mexican fare is definitely worth the wait. What began as a street food trend in Los Angeles, Korean and Mexican fusion may sound like a strange flavor combo but the flavors actually blend quite seamlessly in the truck’s selection of tacos, burritos and rice bowls. Order the aforementioned with your choice of all-natural ribeye steak, pulled pork, chicken thighs or house-made tofu plus your standard taco fixings like pico de gallo, monterey jack cheese and shredded lettuce and a solid helping of kimchi. My pulled pork burrito came stuffed with bacon and kimchi fried rice, a crisp pickled cucumber and kimchi slaw and drizzled with a spicy-tangy BBQ sauce and was satisfying and refreshing at the same time. www.korillabbq.com
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Despite the flamboyant name, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is actually disguised as a Mister Softee truck. The only difference indicating the deliciousness inside is a giant rainbow printed ice cream cone on the outside. Run by partners Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, the truck will soon have a permanent location in the East Village but you can usually find them parked on the northwest side of Union Square. Feel free to order your standard chocolate-vanilla-swirl cone but why would you with exotic choices like the Cococone—a vanilla cone rolled in curry infused and toasted coconut flakes—or the Gobbler vanilla sundae complete with pumpkin butter, crushed graham crackers and topped with whipped cream and craisins. The Salty Pimp (a vanilla cone, dulce de leche, sea salt and a chocolate dip) garners it’s fair share of attention based on the name alone but my taster and I preferred the Bea Arthur (photo below), a vanilla cone drizzled with dulce de leche and finished with loads of crunchy crushed Nilla Wafers. www.biggayicecreamtruck.com
If your idea of street food is fried, greasy or wrapped in tin foil, the Bistro Truck will quickly put that notion to rest after you sample their selection of Mediterranean and Moroccan-influenced food with super fresh ingredients. The regular menu includes Moroccan pastillas (chicken or seafood baked between layers of filo dough), a homemade grilled lamb sausage sandwich served with a roasted tomato and caramelized onion charmula sauce and a mixed vegetable tanjine stew served over couscous or basmati rice. But the rotating daily specials—chilled watermelon soup, grilled Portobello mushroom and goat cheese salad (photo below) and coconut panacotta on the day that I visited—are also excellent choices. Make sure to wash everything down with a glass of refreshing iced Moroccan mint tea. www.bistrotruck.com
Schnitzel and Things
Schnitzel, by definition, is an Austrian delight in which a piece of meat is pounded super thin with a mallet, battered and fried to perfection. It is comfort food, pure and simple, and now you can get it on the go at this 3-year-old truck run by investment banker-turned-food-truck-owner Oleg Voss. Order your schnitzel of chicken, pork or cod (plus eggplant and veal specials on the day that I visited), either as a sandwich served on ciabatta bread with lettuce and tomato or as a platter with two sides and a choice of sauce. The platter is a hefty serving of food and I had to share my chicken schnitzel with mayo-free Austrian potato and beet and feta salads and a side of smoky chipotle sour cream (below) with a friend, but boy did it hit the spot. www.schnitzelandthings.com
We all know that the craving for sweets can hit you without warning, but luckily Sweetery NYC, with two roving locations, is never too far away. Originally named Street Sweets, this bright teal truck tempts passersby with dense brownies, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes in flavors like banana caramel and red velvet. What really hits the sweet spot though are the light and fluffy brioche rolls topped with large bits of sugar and filled with your choice of pastry cream, dulce de leche, nutella or marshmallow cream and the seasonally flavored and super moist mini whoopee pies that provide just the right amount of sugar to satisfy a nagging sweet tooth. www.sweeterynyc.com