By Brian Martucci | The Line Media
The birds are chirping, the grass is (fitfully) greening, and the year’s first thunderstorm has come and gone. It’s early spring in MSP. Soon food truck season begins in earnest. Here are some new additions to our burgeoning mobile foodie scene, which further demonstrate MSP’s evolving restaurant culture, encourage street life and generate community. These four are either already operational or plan to be by the summer solstice.
1. Tatanka Truck
The early season’s most exciting announcement isTatanka Truck, which bills itself “Minnesota’s first healthy Native American food truck.” Devised and overseen by Sean Sherman and his crew from The Sioux Chef, Tatanka (Lakota for bison) is based out of Minneapolis’ Little Earth neighborhood.
Though Tatanka’s menu won’t be finalized until May 15, it’s “likely to be in line” with The Sioux Chef’s existing cuisine, says Dana Thompson, The Sioux Chef’s brand manager. “Tatanka is going to be a buffalo-themed food truck with truly indigenous offerings,” she elaborates, “meaning no chicken, pork or beef, no dairy or wheat, and no refined sugars or soda.”
In other words, if the indigenous tribes of the North didn’t eat it before first contact with European settlers, it won’t be on Tatanka Truck’s menu.
At least to start, Tatanka “will be mainly used for events around the metro area, with booking preference given to native communities across the Midwest,” says Thompson. “We see plenty of opportunity at street fairs and festivals as well.”
Budding chefs, take notice: Tatanka posted for a food truck manager position on April 1.
2. Sal’s Place on the Road
Sal’s specializes in such familiar Italian cuisine as various ziti configurations, caprese (mozzarella, tomatoes and basil in olive oil and sometimes vinegar), and sausage and pepper sandwiches. The not-so-familiar bites include like arancini (Sicilian rice balls) and chocolate ravioli. Sal’s makes as much as possible from scratch, including its arancini (which is looking like a signature dish) and fresh meatballs.
So far, Sal’s preferred lunchtime haunts (per Twitter, at least) include the Capitol/John Ireland Boulevard area, Mears Park and Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul. Evenings find Sal’s at a rotating slate of breweries, notably Summit, Indeed and Bauhaus.
3. Brooks High Beer Battered
Speaking of craft beer, Brooks High Beer Battered is putting a new spin on deep-fried fish. (Lent might be over, but the success of Anchor Fish & Chips proves that MSP is a year-round fried fish town.)
Barely a month after completing a successful Kickstarter campaign that funded the purchase of their new truck, owners Pete Toft and Brett Drake are busily finalizing a menu that incorporates beer from some of the Twin Cities’ hottest breweries: Lynlake, Bauhaus, Fair State and Tin Whiskers are all confirmed, and others may be in the works.
Picture your favorite beer, an IPA, a Pilsner, a stout,” invites Brooks High’s website. “We’ll use each of these [beers] as the central ingredient for a variety of uniquely crafted beer batters that will bathe walleye in a deliciously fluffy, crispy and craft beery layer.”
“Most food trucks create a menu that explores a specific cuisine,” add Toft and Drake in Brooks High’s Kickstarter video. “We decided to create one that explores beer.”
Brooks High won’t actually serve beer. But fried fish battered in the region’s tastiest brews is probably the next best thing. And the two owners have been busy inking partnerships with non-alcoholic suppliers, too, including west-central Minnesota’s buzzworthy Redhead Creamery. (Expect deep-fried cheese curds to be a regular menu fixture.)
Brooks High hasn’t made any detailed announcements about where they’ll be posting up this season — but given the theme and fare, local brewery partnerships seem likely. Stay tuned.
4. The Curious Goat
Chef Ian Gray, former owner of The Gray House restaurant, has a new project:The Curious Goat, a farm-to-table food truck that sources fresh, local meat, veggie and dairy ingredients whenever possible. Regulars at Sociable Cider Werks, where The Curious Goat serves as “food truck in residence,” have known about Gray’s project for several months His truck sits right outside the front entrance during the cidery’s Thursday through Sunday open hours.
The Curious Goat’s fare is eclectic and, for lack of a better term, goat-heavy: savory braised goat-meat sliders and goat cheese curds share menu space with maple goat sausage and brussels sprouts topped with goat bacon and goat cheese, all of which were deemed snackworthy in a Pioneer Press review.
For those who don’t frequent Sociable, Gray has expressed interest in broadening The Curious Goat’s beat to downtown Minneapolis and/or St. Paul. (Though, in a recent interview, he sounded skeptical about maneuvering his extra-long truck through downtown traffic.) Firmer engagements may be forthcoming as the weather warms.