In the old days for a couple bucks, all a hungry soul could get from a street lunch truck was a stale hot dog, a salty pretzel or a warm soda. Today however, a new generation of lunch trucks is coming your way. They serve high-end fare such as grass-fed beef hamburgers, escargot and creme brulee. As they rove the streets of cities like Austin, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, they alert customers to their locations using Twitter and Facebook. Their owners include highly trained chefs and well-known restauranteurs. Here are 10 of the best gourmet lunch trucks that may one day hit the streets of your city:
The Mighty Cone
Profile: Co-owner Jeff Blank is the chef and owner of Austin’s well-known Hudson’s on the Bend. The stationary truck serves the restaurant’s famous crunchy coating on fried chicken, shrimp or avocado.
Speciality: Deep-fried avocado—coated with almonds, sesame seeds, cornflakes and chili, wrapped in a tortilla and topped with mango-jalapeno slaw.
Finding It: The Web site, http://mightycone.com, lists the menu, hours and location.
San Francisco/ Bay Area
Profile: Rotisserie trucks serving pork, free-range chicken and local lamb.
Speciality: Quarter-chicken with potatoes roasted in salt, rosemary and chicken juice.
Finding It: A schedule of stops is posted on the Web site, www.roliroti.com.
Spencer on the Go
Profile: A newly opened truck serving French cuisine by chef Laurent Katgely, who also owns Chez Spencer, an upscale French restaurant.
Speciality: Lemony braised skate cheeks and escargot in puffed pastry.
Finding It: Information is posted at
www.spenceronthego.com and via Twitter (@chezspencergo).
Profile: Owner Jerome Chang previously worked as a pastry sous chef at famed Manhattan restaurant Le Cirque.
Speciality: Chocolate bread pudding
Finding It: The Web site, www.desserttruck.com, lists the usual schedule; there are also occasional Twitter updates via @desserttruck.
Calexico Carne Asada
Profile: Three brothers and a former cook from Manhattan’s Cru restaurant run two carts, parked on the streets of New York. They plan to open a Brooklyn restaurant later this month. Calexico won the city’s Vendy Awards last year, which designate the top street vendor in New York.
Specilaity: Carne asada tacos and carne asada burritos.
Finding It: The Web site, calexicocart.com, posts a full menu; messages about specials and locations are sent regularly via Twitter (@calexicocart).
Los Angeles, CA
Profile: Kogi BBQ shot to national fame this fall when word spread of its inventive cuisine—Korean meats in Mexican tacos and burritos—and use of Twitter (it now has 28,000 followers).
Speciality: Tacos with short ribs.
Finding It: The two trucks are easy to find via frequent updates on Twitter (@kogibbq.com) or through the Web site, www.kogibbq.com.
The Green Truck
Profile: Ingredients are either local, organic, sustainably raised (such as line-caught small tuna) or vegan, and the two trucks run on recycled vegetable oil.
Speciality: Caribbean-style tacos with pineapple salsa.
Finding It: Updates sent about once a day via Twitter (@green_truck) and posted at www.greentruckonthego.com alert diners to the three trucks’ whereabouts.
Skillet Street Food
Profile: Upscale bistro food cooked in a converted Airstream trailer.
Speciality: Hamburgers and french fries.
Finding It: Contact information is on the Web site, skilletstreetfood.com.
On the Fly
Profile: Stationary carts are parked primarily in tourist destinations around the Washington area. The company promotes its eco-friendly approach, from electric-cart technology to biodegradable packaging and organic ingredients.
Speciality: Vegetable tacos and vegetable empanadas.
Finding It: Locations are posted on their Web site, www.dconthefly.com.
Clover Food Truck
Profile: From a truck fueled by fryer grease, Clover sells only vegetarian items.
Speciality: Rosemary fries, sandwiches with chickpea fritters and BBQ Seitan
Finding It: Via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Web site, cloverfoodlab.com.