Some may look for buds on the trees, the return of the robin, and other signs from Mother Nature or whatever, but as far as we're concerned, spring in the Twin Cities has only officially begun once we experience the following things: opening day at Target Field, Scott Seekins changing from his black suit to his all-white uniform, and new food trucks preparing to hit the streets. There are significantly fewer trucks this year (so far), which makes us wonder whether we have reached maximum saturation or a new food trend is quietly in the works. Either way, there are some promising mobile kitchens debuting this season and we have the inside scoop on what they're serving and where to find them.
Owner: Jean Hutar, whose previous experience includes helping to run her family's restaurants, Vertins in Ely and Greg's Place in Eveleth, and nearly a decade working as a restaurateur with Chipotle.
Sample menu items: The truck's tagline and mission statement is "season the day," and Hutar's food makes good on that promise. Expect flavorful, sustainably sourced meats like all-beef Minnesota-made hot dogs; Thousand Hills grass-fed mini burgers topped with fried onions, bacon, and pickles; indulgent loaded hash browns cooked until crispy on the truck's flat top and sprinkled with their namesake butcher salt — sea salt infused with rosemary, sage, marjoram, and thyme. If you need something to offset all the savory, a vanilla bean-flecked pot of freshly torched creme brulée should set you right without putting you over the edge.
Stomping grounds: Downtown Minneapolis along Marquette between Seventh and Eighth, North Loop on Washington Avenue, Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park, and Fulton Brewery
Try them if you like: Natedog's, Moral Omnivore, Tollefson Family Grill
How to find them: @ButcherSalt
Grill Works Truck
Owners: Will and Amy Cave
Sample menu items: American diner classics with an emphasis on burgers. They've been working on a porchetta roll stuffed with gremolata and have promised to include Spam, the most Minnesotan of all canned meats, on one of their breakfast-influenced creations.
Stomping grounds: Grill Works is planning to launch in the next two months, so check their Twitter account to find out where their first lunch will be served.
Try them if you like: Simply Steve's, Neato's Burgers
How to find them: @Grill_Works
Owner: Jason Montgomery
Sample menu items: Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas made with Easy Bean Farm produce, Cedar Summit cream, and grass-fed beef from Prairie Fare. Build your own with fennel sausage, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions, or choose one of Montgomery's custom creations. The Love Pizza, topped with beets, blue cheese, arugula, garlic, and burrata cheese, and the Health Pizza, covered in kale, pine nuts, and feta cheese, both sound particularly tasty. They'll also serve warm, wood-fired foccacia and have been playing around with both gluten-free and multigrain pizza dough. Tru Pizza's catering menu includes a s'mores calzone smeared with Nutella, but no word yet on whether the truck will do desserts. Here's hoping they do because that sounds crazy delicious.
Stomping grounds: Tru Pizza doesn't officially hit the streets until June 1, so check out their Twitter feed for location updates.
Try them if you like: Little G's Mobile Pizzeria, Potter's Pasties
How to find them: @TRUPIZZATRUCK
Owners: Haley and Tony Fritz, partners in business and in life, who are both alums of the University of North Dakota and major cheese enthusiasts.
Sample menu items: This truck is all about gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. There's a lovely and light caprese-inspired one with fresh mozzarella and plenty of basil; a hearty, St. Paddy's day-appropriate creation with creamy and sharp Dubliner cheese, a layer of garlic mashed potatoes, and a sticky-sweet reduction of Irish whiskey; and a surprisingly irresistible version of handheld mac and cheese with elbow pasta and three kinds of cheese fused between slices of buttery, crusty bread. They also serve a few smart soups for dipping, including the Toma-cado, a take on classic tomato basil bisque made with avocado, and a multicolored bean chicken tortilla soup.
Stomping grounds: 612 Brewery, Surly Brewing, Indeed Brewery, and John Ireland Boulevard near the State Capitol Building in St. Paul
Try them if you like: R.A. MacSammy's, Fork in the Road
How to find them: @O_Cheeze
Big Brother Almighty BBQ
Owner: Kenneth Frazier
Sample menu items: Saucy smoked meats including ribs, chicken wings, and pulled pork. They'll also be doing classic smokehouse sides like creamy mac and cheese and coleslaw.
Stomping grounds: Big Brother is yet to roll out, but they have indicated that when they do, they'll be serving not only Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also Brooklyn Park.
Try them if you like: Gogi Bros., Cafe Racer, Melch's Meat Wagon
How to find them: @BBAlmightyBBQ
Undead Frank's Zombie Bites
Owner: Leslie Bock, who also owns Psycho Suzi's, Donny Dirk's, and the upcoming Betty Danger's Country Club
Sample menu items: Funky fusion bar food. Undead Frank's actually launched at the beginning of this winter, but frigid temps meant they kept their service hours pretty brief and never went beyond the outskirts of Donny Dirk's Zombie Den. This spring they'll have more regular hours and might even get on the move with other trucks around northeast Minneapolis. The bile-green truck serves Voodoo Zombie Bites, a Thai take on cheese curds with hot chilies and peanut dipping sauce; a couple of melty grilled sandwiches stacked with beer-braised chicken or slow-cooked beef, jammy wine sauce, and fontina cheese; and deep fried mini Mexican eggrolls.
Stomping grounds: 2027 N. Second St., Minneapolis
Try them if you like: Heavy Metal Grill, Barrio Truck
How to find them: facebook.com/undeadfrankszombiebites
Owners: Daniel Wilder, a former pizza shop manager whose devotion led him to build a wood-fire pizza oven in his backyard in south Minneapolis, where the idea for WildEarth was born.
Sample menu items: Another wood-fire pizza truck making Neopolitan-style hand-stretched pizzas, WildEarth is committed to using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and even puts a touch of local maple syrup in their dough to make an extra crispy crust that's just a little bit sweet. Expect farm-to-table toppings including ramps, goat cheese, and artisan sausage.
Stomping grounds: WildEarth is still putting the finishing touches on the truck, but you can find them at Art-A-Whirl on May 17, where they will be giving away free pizza to the first 100 guests who show up with a topping to share.
Try them if you like: Red Wagon Pizza Company
How to find them: @WildEarthPizza
Taste of Valleyfair Food Truck
Sample menu items: This roaming truck is basically just another easy way to get food in between trips on the roller coaster and water park rides. Think ice cream novelties and soft-serve cones, classic chili cheese dogs, Coney Island dogs, and a special Twin Cities dog called the Juicy Lucy dog.
Stomping grounds: In and around the amusement park grounds in Shakopee.
Try them if you like: Taste of Target Field Food Truck
How to find them: valleyfair.com