“You can eat the wrapper,” said Natasha Case, co-owner of Coolhaus, the food truck purveyors of the architecturally-inspired ice cream sandwich. We were at a supper club and Case was discussing a company she started in Los Angeles in 2009 with her friend Freya Estreller. The ice cream sandwiches, which are sold from various trucks in Los Angeles and Austin, are coming to New York this month. “We want this to be our North East American truck.”
Coolhaus combines creativity with sustainability, getting edgy with flavors you won’t find at Good Humor like Lychee Martini, Pistachio Truffle, and Chocolate Chipotle. The two New York trucks will offer something different — hot toppings like caramel, spicy hot chocolate, and bacon caramel corn created by the ladies of the Brooklyn sweets company Ovenly. “We want to get creative with it,” said Case. And of course, what would a Rem Koolhaas-inspired truck be without Coolhaus classics like Mies Vanilla Rohe (Vanilla ice cream + Chocolate Chip cookie) or Frank Berry (Strawberry ice cream + Snickerdoodle cookie) for your Bauhaus fix?
In homage to the launch of Coolhaus New York, and the spirit of artisanal food trucks everywhere, including ones that specialize in lobster, grilled cheese and schnitzel, we’ve put together a sampling of some of our favorite food trucks — from Flavorpill cities and beyond — that have gotten creative with it.
Skillet Street Food, Seattle, WA
One of the progenitors of the great national food truck boom, Skillet started selling its street food creations by chef Josh Henderson in 2007. While the American-inspired menu — fixed with classic techniques and seasonal ingredients — changes often, the burger (grass fed beef with bacon jam, arugula, and cambozola), and poutine (handcut french fries with gravy, cheddar, and herbs) are staples sold from a window of a vintage Airstream trailer. If you can’t make it to any of its Seattle locations any time soon, you can pick up some Skillet Bacon Jam online.
Lobsta Truck, Los Angeles, CA
Lobsta Truck rolled into existence seemingly to disprove naysayers who thought a decent lobster roll could never be had on the West Coast, or that shell fish from beyond state lines shouldn’t be sampled. It started with an autumn drive through New England dotted with stops for fresh Maine lobster rolls at the Clam Shack, Barnacle Billy’s, and Red’s Eats. While the Lobsta Truck is on the West Coast, fresh lobster meat is flown in from Maine two to three times per week, as are the rolls. With crab rolls, New England clam chowder and Whoopie Pies also on the menu, you can sidle up to the window of the big red Lobsta Truck to get a little East Coast flavor on the West Coast any time.
Food Shark, Marfa, TX
Food Shark’s Krista Steinhauer and Adam Bork serve their Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern fare from retro-vehicles like a converted 1974 Ford delivery truck and an old school bus that serves as a dining car. It’s unsurprising that Food Shark made a home in the artistically focused little town of Marfa — a desert town where Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation has been drawing artists for decades. Food Shark’s specials change daily, and “span the globe,” but you can always pick up a Marfalafel. And if it’s still too cold to eat outside, take a seat in the dining car, a refurbished Bluebird school bus.
Schnitzel & Things, New York, NY
For those fond of German food, served fast, this truck, which has come recommended by just about everyone we talked to, including our friends at Foodspotting, is the way to go. True to its name, at Schnitzel & Things schnitzel comes in many varieties including chicken, pork and cod. Braised sauerkraut, Austrian potato salad, and bratwurst complete the meal and convince you that you need not be fancy to be good.
The Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Angeles, CA
Above and beyond the five variations on the plain and simple melt, The Grilled Cheese Truck offers a Cheesy Mac and Rib with barbecue pork, a Brie Melt with Fig Paste, and sweet things off the grill like the S’More Melt with crumbled Graham crackers, Nutella, and marshmallow cream. It’s no wonder this one made the LA Hotlist 2011 for #1 Food Truck in LA.
Maximus Minimus, Seattle, WA
Let’s be honest, the first thing about the Maximus Minimus truck that grabbed our attention is its post-apocalyptic vibe. We were glad to learn that it also serves great food and has concept behind its Mad Max facade. The truck serves up sandwiches that fit either of two profiles: the “maximus” — savory and spicy, or the “minimus” — sweet and tangy. Each sandwich can be made either way. And while this truck is aimed at those with a taste for pulled pork, veggie cravings can be satisfied with the Veg sandwich. And the drinks too come in both varieties, with Mexican Coca Cola and Hibiscus Nectar.
Chairman Bao, San Francisco, CA
This flashy recent addition to the food truck universe offers traditional Chinese buns, steamed and baked, using fresh, bold, and spicy ingredients inspired by the street food of Asia. You choose the bun, steamed or baked, and then select your fillings — and if it’s all too good to choose, get a combo. The mix of staple and novel flavors is sure to satisfy picky eaters both adventurous and traditional.
Heartschallenger, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA
Like Coolhaus, Heartschallenger is a sweets truck that has gone bi-coastal with presence in both Los Angeles and New York. But what makes Heartschallenger unique is its musical angle. The brainchild of Lo and Ben, both musicians, this truck sells not only desserts, and toys, but limited edition vinyl records, of music they make. Heartschallenger was even named by NME as one of the “50 driving the music industry forward.” Stop by their truck before you head to the Bowery Ballroom and pick up a pink balaclava mask, a glow-in-the dark button pack or a disco ball necklace. And as this is an ice cream truck of the 21st century, the old-fashioned jingle has been switched out for their own tunes — the ringtones of which are available for purchase.