Picture it: Minneapolis, 2009. Food trucks saturated the streets of most major cities, but local municipal codes and a lack of regulation for street-cart vendors meant they were just barely “a thing” in the Twin Cities. Sure, Chef Shack was already turning up at farmers markets, and every so often you’d see a somewhat seedy taco truck (or, more accurately, taco trunk) parked outside the Turf Club, but we had no idea this was just the calm before the storm. There are now around 80 trucks that regularly rove the metro area, but our desire for these meals on wheels has become insatiable, demanding more trucks with more options, and this year is no exception. Here are a dozen trucks that are new this season, with info on where to find them and why they’re worth seeking out.
Hot Indian Foods
When it hit the streets in mid-May, Hot Indian Foods was mistaken for a mobile version of Chino Latino (which, for clarification, does not exist). It makes sense, with all the bright colors and fusion food, but HIF is indeed a unique entity with a menu that revolves around a unique item. Their signature Indurrito has all the saucy curry, rice, and paneer of an Indian dinner, rolled up into a tortilla. You can also get it as a deconstructed plate without the tortilla and add tasty, crispy, Indian-spice battered fries — a mix of regular Russet and sweet potatoes — to any order. Pro tip: You can shave $1 off your meal by showing owner Amol Dixit (he’s usually taking orders in front of the truck to help keep the line moving) your best Bollywood dance move. Find the truck at the Linden Hills farmers’ market, outside the 612 Brew taproom in Northeast, and@HotIndianFoods.
A la Plancha
This Spanish-inspired truck is doing ham, cauliflower, or pepper croquettes; veggie, beef, banana, or seafood empanadas; and grilled skewered chicken or beef with garlic aioli and vibrant chimichurri. The truck itself has a diesel engine with a gravity-fed veg oil tank, so all the fryer oil used to make your crunchy croquettes is later converted to fuel. Smells good, does good. They’re roaming around Uptown and Eat Street but are adding more events, hours (hopefully late), updates, and locations @aLaPlanchaMPLS.
Lulu’s Street Food
Based in Hudson but frequently setting up shop in downtown Minneapolis, Lulu’s Street food is serving Caribbean, Latin, and other surprise fusion cuisine, like the Cuban-Polish hash with Polish sausage, diced potatoes, peppers, and onions all grilled up and topped with a fried egg. Feeling less breakfasty? Lulu’s recently did a lobster, snow crab, shrimp, and blue claw crab salad on a sweet Jamaican toasted bun. Look out, Smack Shack. They also have fresh-cut black truffle and Parmesan fries, ahi tuna tacos, and anything else they dream up that day. Look for the sunny truck at Eighth and Marquette and@LulusStreetFood.
Its claim to fame as Minnesota’s first and only Korean barbecue food truck would be enough to get us searching for this tiger-striped vehicle, but mostly we love to say “mobile bulgogi.” Fans of Hoban in Eagan, the Left-Handed Cook at the Midtown Global Market, and enthusiasts of meat in general will be delighted with the selection of galbi (super-tender spicy beef short ribs), bulgogi (barbecued beef), mandu (crispy fried potstickers with soy dipping sauce), and sticky rice with kimchee. Gogi brothers Fred and John are all over the place — Rice Park, outside Bar Abilene, the shops at the West End — spreading good cheer and good barbecue from St. Paul to St. Louis Park. Find their exact daily location@GogiBros.
Now that this mobile bakery with a French accent is on the streets, you really have no excuse for skipping breakfast (or mid-day pick-me-up or late-night snack). Paulette Bakery features sweet and savory croissants like chocolate-almond and ham and gruyere. Since the menu is small, the focus is on super high-quality ingredients such as vegetarian-fed, nitrate- and antibiotic-free Beeler ham. Even so, they still took the time to make the cutest little Eiffel tower-emblazoned wax paper bags for carrying out your pastry. Piping hot Peace Coffee is available too. Find Paulette on Hennepin between Sixth and Seventh, behind the Lagoon theater, and on Washington at Second Avenue North, or @PauletteBakery.
B-52 Slider Squad
This is actually the mobile version of B-52 Burgers and Brew out in Inver Grove Heights, serving house-made veggie burgers, traditional beef sliders with your choice of cheese and a little pickle, mini Reuben sandwiches, and a sometimes-available Bavarian slider that comes on a pretzel bun with sweet and spicy mustard and white onions. Every sandwich arrives with a fistful of fries, but the must-order item is the doughnut-like fresh sweet corn fritters with chipotle mayo dipping sauce. The squad is mostly in the St. Paul downtown and West Seventh surrounding area, specifically Wabasha and Cedar, Seventh and Walnut, and near Tom Reid’s sports bar, but they’re adding new spots all the time, so keep up to date@SliderSquad.
The Moral Omnivore
Perhaps the most hyped of the new trucks, the Moral Omnivore keeps its focus on sustainably sourced ingredients and making beets taste as good as bacon. The eclectic menu includes stroopwafel — a Dutch treat that sandwiches a thick layer of caramel between two thin, crisp waffle rounds; a vegetarian curried spinach-lentil taco on a house-made waffle shell; an awesome BLT with fried tomatoes (and no mayo — but somehow it’s still so good); mushroom fries; and wild rice burgers topped with pickled radishes and lingonberry-wine sauce. Everything is organic and delicious, but you’ll really feel good knowing that once a week 5 percent of the proceeds of your lunch goes to a local charity. Look for the mean truck parked on Marquette between Eighth and Ninth, at 10th andNicollet Mall, and at the Excelsior farmers’ market. Track them on the move@Moral_Omnivore.
No more grease and dirty grill tops: Starlight is doing diner food for a modern audience. Think hamburger hot dish but with morel mushrooms and chive blossom garnish. On the more classic side there’s hearty pulled pork and Italian beef sandwiches, thick-cut onion rings, and beer-battered asparagus. Trying to keep it light? Starlight is smart to offer fruity fare such as watermelon gazpacho and simple slices of mango sprinkled with chili salt. The navy and gold truck can be found at Eighth and Marquette, 612 Brew, and@starlighteats.
Brava on Wheels
The sister truck of the She Royal Deli, Brava on Wheels is doing a succinct menu of Thai curried chicken, beef, or vegetables available either as a burrito (we see this fusion burrito thing is really taking off, probably thanks in no small part to World Street Kitchen) or a rice bowl. Be sure to indicate extra-extra spicy if that’s how you like it, since Brava tends to lean toward a milder dish. There’s cleansing, ruby-toned hibiscus tea to drink, which will be extra-refreshing as we move into the dog days of summer. Look for the bronze and black truck at Marquette between Seventh and Eighth and @EatBrava.
Say it slowly. Ka. Bom. Lette. Kabomelette. Now what do you think they serve? Something that explodes? New competition for the cronut? No, it’s kabobs and omelettes, because you can never have one without the other. The idea is that you come out early or late and get a breakfast of broccoli and chorizo omelette or a lunch of Jamaican jerk chicken kabob. There’s also a walking salad — the caprese kabob with homemade pesto — and a dessert kabob of skewered chocolate-covered strawberries. Combine the two concepts and get the Kabom hash — onions, peppers, and squash, with potatoes, bacon, and cheese, all crowned with a fried egg. So far the truck has popped up on 10th and Washington Avenue South, 10th between Nicollet and LaSalle, and at the Midtown Farmers Market. Find out where they are today @kabomelette.
Think of this as a Benihana on wheels, without the fear of flying knives winging past your face. Hibachi Daruma serves pan-Asian fried rice and noodle dishes as well as stuff hot off the hibachi grill. Expect glazed chicken teriyaki, grilled beef with vegetables, and almost everything with a side of the creamy daruma shrimp sauce that’s fast gaining its own following. The pink and purple truck is usually seen trolling around Rice Park, Mears Park, and outside Mississippi Market on Dale, but you can always find its exact location@HibachiDaruma.
Motley Crews Heavy Metal Grill
This flame-decorated, head-banging truck is one of the only mobile eateries you can find and identify by sound alone. The enthusiastic team at Motley’s is usually blaring hard rock while grilling up their brat burgers (take a brat out of the casing, patty it up, and put it on a burger bun); assembling philly cheesesteak and chicken philly sandwiches; ladling traditional and white chili; making Hawaiian sandwiches with grilled ham and pineapple; and bagging up the endlessly edible sweet-n-heat pretzels that go great with beer. If they aren’t parked outside a brewery, the cherry limeade is pretty good too. Follow the sound of hair metal to Indeed Brewing, Seventh and Marquette, Mears Park, and @MotleyCrews.