Here are the highlights of my recent tour of the downtown truck scene:
I have been a fan of The Dandelion Kitchen, owned by Natalie Coleman and Alex Brand, ever since they started showing up at the Midtown Farmers Market. They spent a couple of months during the winter down in Brazil, but now they are back, and parking their truck downtown on weekdays at 7th and Nicollet.
Dandelion Kitchen features local and sustainable products whenever possible in a menu that includes four sandwiches – grilled cheese ($6.50), mozzarella and tomato ($6.50), maple-glazed BLT ($6.75) and a roast chicken sandwich, plus a soup of the day, a locavore sandwich, and housemade sodas. You can find the Dandelion Kitchen on the Nicollet Mall at the IDS Plaza between 7th and 8th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, and at the Midtown Farmers Market Tuesdays from 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I’m also a big fan of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, the Middle Eastern-French fusion restaurant at 123 N. 3rd St., Minneapolis, so I was delighted when the owners, chef Sameh and manager Saed Wadi announced that the launch of World Street Kitchen, their own food truck inspired by visits to the food truck scene in Los Angeles. Their usual lunchtime parking spot is on 5th St in downtown Minneapolis, just east of the Nicollet Mall. When I showed up there a few days ago at a few minutes after 1 p.m. they were sold out of almost everything except the veggie version of their yum yum bowl (which is actually a box.) It’s a mound of steamed rice topped with Chinese broccoli, poached egg, shiitake mushrooms, roasted peanuts, green onions, basil, cilantro, sesame seeds and a spicy aioli. Also available with chicken, if you arrive early enough. There’s more on the World Street Kitchen that I would like to try, including their short rib pho ($6.50), and banh mi sandwich (chicken or mushroom, $6).
Josh Thoma’s Smack Shack truck is too big to park on the Nicollet Mall, but you can find it a block away on Marquette, between 6th and 7th, weekdays from 11 to 1:30 p.m., serving lobster rolls ($12 with chips), king rolls (double the lobter, $18), shrimp po’ boys ($12) and a sausage po’ boy ($8). I never thought I would spend $12 for anything served out of the side of a truck, but the lobster roll was delicious – a generous quantity of lobster salad in grilled Texas toast.
The Smack Shack is also serves its full menu at the 1029 Bar, 1029 Marshall, Minneapolis, from Wednesday to Friday from 5 p.m. on. Starting June 5, they will also be at the bar on Tuesday evenings, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 to close.
There are a lot more food trucks around – and no doubt more coming soon. Check out the Truckchasers list at http://truckchasers.blogspot.com or follow the tweets @tcstreetfood.com.