Our ever-evolving food truck scene has undergone yet another wave of transformation.
Back in its infancy, the main challenges facing these vehicular restaurants were getting proper permits and finding available street parking. Then came the success stories, the kooky concepts, the carts, the one-offs, and the brick-and-mortar dreams. Fairs and rallies were organized. Inevitable turf wars surfaced. Winter-specific trucks like Warming House popped up and made us re-think these mobile kitchens as a spring and summer-only affair. Existing restaurants got the bright idea of adding trucks as an offshoot of their thriving businesses. Kickstarters launched. Some succeeded. But most importantly, the trucks found their fans, the people followed their favorites from downtown lunch to weekend brewery event, getting to know the dedicated makers behind those sliding service windows.
If you've been meaning to get out and discover the truck that makes your ideal meal, now's your chance: The warm weather means the fleet is out in full force. Here's a handy guide to our picks for best new and returning food trucks.
What they're known for: Fully gluten-free, nutrient dense meals from brunch-y hashes to whole grain salads, all designed by the registered dietician who also happens to own the truck. Without a doubt our favorite dish here is the rich tomato-y braised beef with creamy cauliflower mash.
What's new: Sweet potato chips, Paleo-friendly tortillas, coconut-chocolate bars
Where to find them: @SassySpoonTruck
Hot Indian Foods
What they're known for: Their sole and signature item is the Indurrito. As the name suggests, it's an Indian version of a burrito made with warm roti (a type of flatbread), rice, and your choice of spicy, saucy filling. We love the fragrant aloo gobi version with curried cauliflower and potatoes.
What's new: Hot Indian Foods is moving into the stall left behind by the Left-Handed Cook at the Midtown Global Market. They're expecting a late-May opening, but the bright orange truck will still be in regular rotation outside local taprooms.
Where to find them: @HotIndianFoods
What they're known for: Pulled meats and a fresh take on soul food. The dry rub achiote pork is a game changer served as a sandwich with mixed greens and queso fresco or as an almost poutine-style entree with pomme frites, pickled veggies, and a smooth, peppery sauce.
What's new: Cafe Racer is showing up more regularly in the taproom rotation. Look for them at Harriet Brewing where you can pair a delicious brew with their tender shredded beef.
Where to find them: @CafeRacerMN[page]
What they're known for: Adventurous, globally-influenced bites and occasional appearances by owner and beloved local food personality, Andrew Zimmern. Though it seems like a weird thing to order from a truck, the oyster, crab, and Andouille sausage gumbo is outstanding. Feeling a little more conventional? That's a relative term here, but the Cabrito burger, made with gamey ground goat, puts a welcome twist on a food truck standard.
What's new: An Asian meatball sub and a Korean fried chicken sandwich.
Where to find them: @AZCanteen
What they're known for: Amazing, flavorful arepas, those Venezuelan cornmeal griddle cake sandwiches. The layered, heat-packing chicken mole filling is always a winner, offset by crisp slices of radish and little gritty bits of cauliflower. But the slow-roasted pork with black beans and cotija cheese is the perennial favorite. Guacamole is always worth adding for a mere $1 upcharge.
What's new: As yet another truck joining the brick-and-mortar team, Hola Arepa will open their store on Nicollet and 35th right across from Pat's Tap sometime early next week. Dan Oskey is doing the drinks here and word is, they secured their full liquor license. It should be a fabulous debut.
Where to find them: @HolaArepa
What they're known for: Almost all their food is generously treated with their house seasoning -- a blend of sea salt infused with rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram, hence the truck's name. There's plenty of meat including smoky local hot dogs slathered in chipotle cheese sauce and roast beef sandwiches
What's new: Everything. This truck is brand new this season.
Where to find them: @ButcherSalt
What they're known for: Their tagline "ethical eats, from bacon to beets" pretty much sums it up, but neglects to mention how delicious all of Moral Omnivore's food is. Don't miss the fried tomato BLT with lemony, smoky collard greens and the curried mushroom fries with creamy mustard dipping sauce.
What's new: Butternut squash taco bowls, raspberry-rosemary popsicles
Where to find them: @Moral_Omnivore
What they're known for: Inventive, modern burgers served up with 50s kitsch, meaning they have everything from mustard-grilled patties (if you're jonesing for In N' Out, these are an excellent stand-in) to an elote-inspired burger with corn, crema, and cilantro. Oh, and basically the best French fries anywhere. The not-so-secret is that they're fried in duck fat.
What's new: A bouncy castle has been discussed.
Where to find them: @NeatosBurgers
What they're known for: Chef-driven sliders and sandwiches, hearty comfort foods like pot pies and pork and beans, and running a zero-waste operation that showcases local products whenever possible. Anything they make with crispy pork belly is a winner and if the beef cheek Reuben is on the menu, do yourself a favor and order it. Don't forget to take advantage of the mini-buffet of sauces and condiments. They make everything good even better.
What's new: A brick-and-mortar outpost is also in the works for this busy catering company. They are already working out of the new space in Northeast Minneapolis, but have yet to announce an opening date to the public.
Where to find them: @GastroTruck
What they're known for: Korean BBQ, so expect a lot of meat. The bulgogi tacos with super-hot homemade kimchi are a way to get a little bit of everything that's good. But the mandu (crispy fried potstickers stuffed with ground meat, veggies, and lots of ginger) and the Tiger Balls (a Korean version of arancini made with rice, pork, and cheese) are also sure-fire crowd pleasers.
What's new: Look for the Gogi Bros. tiger-striped truck at less-frequented locales like Steel Toe Brewery.
Where to find them: @GogiBros
What they're known for: Mexican-Asian fusion food with an emphasis on big, bold flavors. The Korean BBQ burrito is absolutely the thing to order here, but we also love the fruity, multi-dimensional Mojo sandwich, a grilled lemongrass and ginger sausage on a hunk of crusty baguette with fresh papaya. So unique and so delicious.
What's new: Nothing in particular and that doesn't bother us one bit.
Where to find them: @VelleeDeli
What they're known for: Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. The Holligan seems to have Irish eyes smiling with sharp and creamy Dubliner cheddar, garlic mashed potatoes, and a sticky-sweet reduction of Irish whiskey that packs a wallop. They also make soups for sopping, slurping, and dipping. Try the Tomato-Cado, a combination of tomato, basil, and avocado that goes with pretty much every sandwich they make.
What's new: The menu changes weekly so check back often for cheesy new items.
Where to find them: @O_Cheeze