New York, NY: You Don’t Need A Fancy Truck for Great Food on Wheels

Photo credit: People stand in line to buy breakfast and lunch from a street food vendor cart. (Getty)

By Rachel Figueroa-Levin  |  AM New York

Photo credit: People stand in line to buy breakfast and lunch from a street food vendor cart. (Getty)
Photo credit: People stand in line to buy breakfast and lunch from a street food vendor cart. (Getty)

Every so often while walking around downtown, I’ll see a really long line go down the block.

Is it a new Apple product? Sneakers? Free tickets to something?

No. It’s a cupcake. An expensive cupcake. From a truck.

Gourmet food trucks have become a wonderful addition to our city (and you might even see me on line at one). But I’m noticing a bit of truck elitism. Why doesn’t the shawarma guy have a line down the block? Or the chimichurri truck? I know there’s one of these every 50 feet around here, but a good shawarma guy (and there are a few) deserves a long line.

My favorite food truck isn’t so much a truck, but a human-powered cart. Still, it’s amazing and mobile and better than anything people wait in line for.

It’s the corn lady. She walks around Inwood Hill Park selling hot corn on a stick covered in cheese. If people knew the secret of the corn lady, there would be a line from here to the moon.

I sing her praises to my neighbors and am always shocked that most people I know haven’t tried her corn. Why? Because she doesn’t have a brightly colored truck with an ironic name? Yuppies, put down your overpriced soy beans and avail yourself of some corn on a stick for a couple of dollars.

And when you’re done, skip the fancy ice cream truck and find the piragua guy. Syrups and juices over shaved ice is a perfected art form. If you’re feeling particularly smug and want a unique flavor you can brag about to your friends, get tamarindo.

Here’s an insider secret: The best tacos you’ll ever have outside of Mexico come from a cart in Dyckman Fields on Sundays when there’s a soccer game. It’s owned by a wonderful family that makes wonderful food.

Gourmet is nice, but don’t be fooled by a label — or lack of one. Many of the mobile food purveyors that were here before truck food became trendy are just as good, if not better, than the places that advertise their highbrowness despite being in a gasoline-fueled vehicle.

New trucks might be where all the cool people are. But the old-school carts and trucks are where the really good food is.

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