Twin Cities street food Pt. 2: Smack Shack, Sonny's, and more

Discover tasty treats to go

Here's what those passersby missed: a selection of ice cream and sorbet flavors from south Minneapolis's beloved Crema café, which makes some of the best frozen confections in town. The $4 cups or cones are small, but they're made with top-notch ingredients and pack a lot of flavor punch. Traditionalists will stick with the classic Crema, a coffee-infused ice cream named after the foam on an espresso, while the more adventurous might pick a sorbet made with cantaloupe and lime.

Locations: The Crema cart may be the most weather-dependent of the bunch. For the rest of the season it will be stationed at Eighth and Nicollet on Thursdays during the farmer's market, if the temps are balmy.

BROTHERS DELI

made-to-order sandwich from Dandelion Kitchen
Emily Utne
made-to-order sandwich from Dandelion Kitchen
Cruzn' Café pulled pork sandwich
Emily Utne
Cruzn' Café pulled pork sandwich

There are Minneapolitans who don't know that Brothers Deli exists. Sad to think about, isn't it? Jeff Burstein, owner of the famed skyway-level deli, says he hopes his sandwich cart on Nicollet Mall will introduce his fare to that as-yet-unenlightened group. Never tried the lip-smacking, garlic-soy Korean bulgogi sandwich? (It's been on the menu for seven years, people!) The guy making the sandwiches might just offer you a sample of its luscious marinated meat. And if you're having trouble deciding between that and a classic corned beef or pastrami (on rye with Swiss cheese and mustard, natch), you can have a half-sandwich of each, for $3 apiece. The only bummer about the Brothers cart is that, for now, they're offering homemade potato chips instead of their legendary potato salad. Burstein says if the cart does well, he'll add a refrigeration unit next spring and expand the inventory.

Locations: The Brothers cart is at Eighth and Nicollet Monday through Friday, typically from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be out hopefully through October, as long as the weather holds.

CRUZN' CAFE

Carlos Garcia has worked every restaurant job imaginable—washing dishes, busing tables, bartending, cooking, and managing the front of the house—so he was well-prepared for the multitasking skills required to staff Cruzn' Café solo. In fact, he seems to thrive with the challenge. "Hey, how are you?" Garcia cheerily asked a customer one afternoon, as Top 40 tunes played out of a radio imbedded in the side of the vehicle. When she returned the question, he replied, "Living the dream," and grinned a broad smile.

Cruzn's food offerings are limited—sandwiches, nachos, and hot dogs that incorporate pulled pork and chicken from the nearby Darby O'Ragen's—but they're tasty and affordably priced. Garcia says he's in the process of adding daily specials—tamale Tuesdays, for example—and soups, including a bisque-style option served in a coffee cup for those who want to sip as they stroll. Also in the works to make things even more convenient: a credit card machine and bicycle delivery.

Locations: Cruzn' Cafe typically parks at Fourth and Nicollet from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and hopes to be out into December.

SHE ROYAL

Due to size and weight constraints, right now She Royal's trailer is parked in a less-trafficked area on First Avenue and Eighth Street, across from Ramp A. But Royal's Ethiopian fare, prepared by proprietor Samson Benti, is well worth the hike. (Benti also does American food with a twist, such as a hamburger made with Thousand Hills grass-fed beef and seasoned with Ethiopian spices.)

The $6 vegetarian platter, for example, features spongy injera bread rolled to look like two hot towels, plus potatoes, cabbage, greens, and spicy red lentils that leave a lingering burn. (If you'd like to read more about the health benefits of lentils, see the internet printout taped to the truck's window). The chicken and rice is equally delicious, with its moist chunks of marinated chicken, fruity hot sauce, and yellow rice redolent with the woodsiness of rosemary and cardamom. If you need an afternoon pick-me-up to counteract the generous portions, She Royal is famous for its Ethiopian coffee.

Locations: The trailer is parked at First Avenue and Eighth Street during lunch, Monday through Friday, and will keep operating "as long as the people keep coming," Benti says. Starting next week it will be at Seventh and Nicollet.

DANDELION KITCHEN

After working the Midtown and Uptown markets, Natalie Coleman and Alex Brand of Dandelion Kitchen have stationed their bright yellow box outside the IDS center on Nicollet Mall. There can be a bit of a wait during the lunch rush as the sandwiches—BLTs, grilled cheese with cabbage slaw, and smoked chicken apple chutney, for example—are made to order.

The simple menu incorporates local and organic ingredients but keeps prices low. The side salad, of greens topped with tomato, roasted corn, and maple vinaigrette, for example, is a steal at $2.50. Also worth trying: the homemade sodas (lemon-ginger, basil-lime) served in compostable cups.

Locations: The trailer is parked at Seventh and Nicollet during lunch, typically three to four weekdays.

WORLD STREET KITCHEN

The season's final arrival—World Street Kitchen, a more casual offshoot of the upscale Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant Saffron—was well worth the wait. Chef Sameh Wadi, who runs the Warehouse District restaurant with his brother, Saed, calls the food he sells out of the big red truck a "great way for me to step away from what I'm doing in the restaurant and showcase my cuisine in a completely different way."

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