Healthy fast food isn’t an urban myth. Instead, it’s the newest food craze, and it’s taking to the streets—literally. From traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to soups made with veggies straight from local farms, food trucks are increasingly shunning traditional, greasy fare like corndogs and fries in favor of meals that are fresh, fast and healthy.
“There’s a huge movement going on right now. I call it the ‘food revolution,’” says Suzy Phillips, owner/operator of Gypsy Queen Cuisine, a traditional Lebanese food truck in Asheville, NC. “It’s exciting what’s coming out of food trucks.”
Irene Smith, owner/operator of Souper Freaks, a soup-serving food truck in Baltimore, agrees. “Every single piece of produce on that truck we will have grown ourselves, chopped ourselves, cooked ourselves and served ourselves,” she says. “It’s a health revolution and everyone’s invited, for real.”
But there’s more to this new trend than just delicious, healthy food—it has heart, too. With her leftovers, Smith feeds Baltimore’s homeless population. Phillips loves being able to introduce her community to Lebanese cuisine, which is a rarity on the traditional brick and mortar restaurant scene. Executive Chef Craig Barbour of Roots Farm Food in Charlotte wants his food truck to introduce people to the joys of eating locally farmed food. Brittany Grace Shiver, owner/operator of Grace’s Goodness in Atlanta, serves everything in mason jars to encourage recycling.
“I wanted to be able to bring food to people,” she says. “It feels delightful when you make something that is healthy and has fresh ingredients.”
“Things started to not make sense to me when I was working in the kitchen,” Barbour says of his time spent in the kitchen at a Charlotte-area country club. “We were buying herbs in May from one of the large wholesale distributors…you read on the box, ‘chives from Argentina.’ I was like, ‘I have chives growing in my backyard!’”
“With a food truck, I have the freedom and the ability to utilize all of this great local food because I can change my menu daily,” he adds. “I wanted to be able to control the food from the seed to the plate. I think I’m in a unique position to be able to do it with the food truck.”
Surviving the Streets
From Baltimore to Atlanta, we’ve rounded up a sampling of curbside cuisine that’s good and good for you. We’ve included Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can keep up (and tweet up) with your favorite foodie truckers on the go.
Owner/operator Irene Smith, former attorney and college professor turned Souper Freak, serves up a constantly changing menu of “souper freaky” goodness featuring local, organic ingredients, many of which she grew and harvested herself. Menu items include unique delicacies like chilled cucumber and avocado soup (it’s vegan) and strawberry, goat cheese and spinach wraps. Yum! SouperFreaks.com | @SouperFreaky
The geniuses behind the Sweetflow Mobile were nostalgic for a childhood favorite: the ice cream truck. Deciding to put their own spin on it, they created the Sweetflow Mobile, which serves up salads as well as their famous frozen yogurt, made with organic, fat-free Stonyfield yogurt. Planet plus: everything comes with 100 percent plant-based compostable packaging, including bowls, cups and cutlery. @SweetflowMobile | Facebook.com/SweetFlowMobile
Boka Tako Truck
Another fusion favorite, the Boka Tako Truck offers Asian-inspired cuisine that doesn’t take itself too seriously (their tagline: “Takos for your mouf!”). Their food, however, is no joke: their fish tako, for example, comes with marinated grape salad, lime, sweet soy, chili aoli and herbs. BokaTruck.com | @BokaTruck
Nacho Panda’s neon green food truck—emblazoned with a Mexican wrestling mask-wearing panda—serves up exactly what you might think: Asian/Mexican fusion. Track them down to discover their latest Mexican-inspired Asian creations, like Vietnamese beef or pork tacos. @NachoPandaTruck | Facebook.com/NachoPandaTruck
Seek out Suzy Phillips and Spartacus (her aptly-named food truck) for traditional Lebanese and Mediterranean fare, including tabouleh, hummus and baba ganoush. Don’t miss her falafel, which she serves up with a modern twist every day. @GQCStreetFood
Harvest Moon Grille
Harvest Moon Grille’s bright orange food cart is hard to miss. We love the hummus wrap, made with blended black-eyed peas and roasted garlic in a sundried tomato-basil tortilla—it’s perfect on a hot day with a side of their chilled farro salad. GGFarm.com | @HMGCart | Facebook.com/HMGCart
Roots Farm Food
Executive Chef Craig Barbour wanted to get back in the kitchen. The result is Roots Farm Food, a food truck that he supplies with produce from local farms, including his own. In addition to a few favorite menu items like tamales and tacos, he serves up delicacies like his carne asada steak taco with grilled spring onions and local cheese. He even makes his own drinks to serve alongside his food; when we caught up with him, he was working on a batch of homemade strawberry soda. RootsFarmFood.com | @RootsFarmFood
Brittany Grace Shiver serves up local, organic health food in reusable mason jars—bring yours back clean, and she will happily refill it for you at a discount! A typical menu item? Butternut squash and white bean soup, made with homemade chicken stock she renders herself from Springer Mountain Farms chicken and fresh sage. GracesGoodness.com | @GracesGoodness
Aleigh Acerni lives, writes and stalks the Roots Farm Food truck in Charlotte, NC. More at www.aleighacerni.com.