In New York, fast food restaurants with drive-up windows are eclipsed by fast food trucks with walk-up windows. Lately this business has taken up that of pigeons in flocking to campus—to an overwhelming result. This is no longer a simple matter of Halal versus roasted nuts. Deciding when to eat at which truck takes very careful strategizing.
Students no longer hop on the big yellow bus to school like in days of yore but can stop by Wafels & Dinges’ big yellow truck on the way to class for a tasty breakfast. Parked on Broadway between 113th and 114th streets, Wafels & Dinges serves up two styles of Belgian waffle: the denser, oblong Liège and the more delicate, rectangular Brussels. For a perfect balance of crunchy, chewy, and gooey, go for a speculoos-topped Liège waffle ($5). Dubbed by one customer as “crack butter,” speculoos is thicker than syrup but just as sweet and infused with nutty creaminess. To balance out the dish’s gumminess—it fills the mouth a bit like peanut butter toast—add a cup of brew for $1.50. Downside? The truck is only here on Mondays.
Frites ‘n’ Meats, one of the newest novelties to appear around campus, offers up a killer grass-fed Angus burger. And at $5.50, the price easily beats out Community Food & Juice, Deluxe, or Mel’s. Toppings like fancy gruyère cheese ($0.75) and garlicky guacamole ($0.75) are worth the small, extra splurge. Since this truck is only by campus on Thursdays, hungry students on-the-go can happily get their fill at Vegenation, at Broadway and 116th Street, any other day. In place of the usual dosa, try a masala potato uttapam ($5). Cheese, onion, and spices are cooked into the flatbread-like base, and the whole thing is cut like a pizza. Wash it down with a basil or tamarind soda.
The authenticity of city Mexican food is always contentious so forgo it altogether and have Mexican the Korean way at Korilla BBQ. Though Tenka gave the truck its big campus break, it is easily forgettable with its location underneath the 117th Street and Amsterdam bridge. There Monday through Thursday for dinner, Korilla BBQ is the perfect pit stop for those with an evening class in the International Affairs Building. As much as Columbians adore Taqueria, its dried-out carne asada can’t hold up against Korilla’s succulent barbecued beef. Red and cucumber kimchis replace beans in a burrito ($7), lightening up the dish with an intriguing, tangy crunch. Topped off with a slightly puzzling entire leaf of lettuce and kBBQ (or Korean hot) sauce, the result is a burrito of Chipotle girth for exactly $1 less.
Those who like to start their weeks on a heart-stopping high can end Mondays at Wafels & Dinges, too, with a De Verdekke ($5), the Belgian take on an ice cream sandwich. On Tuesdays, students can sidle up to the Sweetery (Street Sweets’ revamped title) on 115th and Broadway for flourless chocolate walnut cookies that are dense like cake but retain that cookie crunch. Savvy eaters might buy a 10-cookie bag of lighter, candied ginger shortbread to get through the week—or afternoon.