Food Truck Court Opens For Business In St. Paul

Aaron Fenster / Heavy Table

by CBS Minnesota

Aaron Fenster / Heavy Table

ST. PAUL (WCCO) – One of the best things about living in Minnesota is taking advantage of the good weather. Wednesday was no exception. For the first time, workers in downbytown St. Paul had a new option for grabbing some sun — and grabbing a bite to eat.

It’s been nicknamed the Food Truck Food Court, where restaurants relocate to you. And it’ll happen every Wednesday this summer. Five food trucks participated in the inaugural food court: 128 Cafe, Gastrotruck, Fork in the Road Restaurant, Simply Steve’s and Chef Shack.

“I don’t feel this is a competitive endeavor,” says Jill Wilson, owner of 128 Cafe. “We’re all here to promote good food in the Twin Cities. This is such a growing food trend — the more, the merrier.”

Wilson reached out to the city of St. Paul after seeing the success multiple food trucks had when parked together in New York City. After selecting a handful of locations around downtown, the city settled a stretch of Kellogg Boulevard, between St. Peter Street and Wabasha Avenue, right across from the Government Center.

“It’s something different than we normally have down here. And on a nice day, it’s nice to get outside and walk. And be outside for a chance,” Paul Munson said. “I’m surprised it’s not a little more in the middle of town.”

While biting into his Reuben from Simply Steve’s, Munson said the mobile food court was a quick two-block walk from his office at Travelers.

“But on a sunny day,” he said, “I’d go four blocks.”

The space is big enough to accommodate the big lunch crowd. But right now, there aren’t a lot of seating options. Many found the railings that overlook the Mississippi River provide a good spot to perch while eating lunch.

“I’ve always read about the food trucks, but I’ve never had the chance to go,” Abram Isaacs said.

Today, he selected the trout salad with orzo from 128 Cafe.

“I like the variety, they have a lot of good, healthy food. A lot of seafood, a lot of salads, stuff like that. It seemed like the burgers are not too heavy and wouldn’t weigh you down like a lot of other places,” he said.

Each truck has a restaurant-quality kitchen.

“It’s not much different than the kitchen at the restaurant, other than it’s smaller,” Wilson said. “We operate it the same way and hold it to high standards.”

Most items sold in the trucks are around $7. The menus offer a range of options like salads, burgers, tacos and wraps. The trucks say paying in cash is quick and easy for everyone, but most do take credit cards, too.

The best time to head to the trucks is around 11:30 a.m. Most people showed up at noon, so the lines were 10 to 20 people deep by 12:15 p.m.

To learn more about the Twin Cities’ food trucks and to see which made it onto WCCO’s list of the best in our area, check out the Curiocity blog and Best Of list.