Top 5 INDOOR food truck experiences

Day by day our favorite street finds are dropping out of the game. A few intrepid souls like Nate of Natedogs and the vivacious ladies of Fork in the Road plan to stay out all winter long. Others, like Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summers of the Chef Shack, will leave not only the streets but the state in search of warming weather and inspiration around the globe.  To fulfill our cravings, we're going to have to get creative.  We're going to have to go inside.

5. Barrio
The Tim McKee-influenced Mexican food is available in three metro locations, downtown Minneapolis, Edina, and Lowertown. While each location has its own flavor, all three have that soaked-in-añejo-tequila machismo flavor they pack into that black truck. Those fine-dining tacos are still burning up tastebuds through the long, chilly months.

4.  Kitchen in the Market's monthly visiting truck
However will we get by without that Foxy Falafel and her soul-sustaining, hangover-banishing kombucha? That sassy Saucy Burt's meatball sandwich? That refreshing sweet, hot, tart Thai flavor of Gai Gai Thai? Here's how: Head inside the Midtown Global Market for the monthly tasting of local food trucks, mostly being held on the last Sunday of the month.  The first installment is coming up soon on December 4. You can check out Kitchen in the Market's full schedule here.

3.  Saffron / World Street Kitchen
From the Yum Yum bowl to the Bangkok Burrito, the Wadi brothers, Sameh and Saed, have been cultivating taste addictions all summer long.  And then they left us, without so much as a backward glance or a promise to call "some time."  Luckily, we know we can still find those exotic flavors coming out of the kitchen at their Warehouse District restaurant Saffron.  While the restaurant might be more refined, they always have their happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m..  Dishes like the Lamb BLT and the bastirma, a dried, Turkish-style beef, remind us why we fell in love with them all over again.

2.  Smack Shack at the 1029 Bar
While the cool, creamy, crunchy lobster roll might lose its appeal for some when the windchill picks up, the ridiculously rich lobster mac and cheese will erase those sunny-day longings.  Spiked with a tangy bit of Taleggio  cheese, topped with crispy panko bread crumbs, and full of monster movie-sized lobster hunks, it's all served inside a relaxed neighborhood haunt featuring some creative decor.  A bullet-riddled Minneapolis police car door is hung on one wall, and the bar is beneath a canopy of vacated brassieres.  When we asked the bartender how that tradition started, he replied with a dry, "Too much to drink ... bad decisions ..." He shrugged, "Would you like another?"

1. 128 Cafe
Come for the ribs, but stay for everything else.  Belly up to the bar, flanked by warm wood panels, and order a glass of wine from their expertly crafted list.  It's likely your order will be taken by the bewitching Jill Wilson, the owner and the same smiling face often greeting guests in the window of the truck.  Back in the full-sized kitchen, chef Ian Pierce continues to work his magic with the sticky, mahogany-colored ribs they're known and adored for, but the rest of the menu is worth exploring. It's here you can find the best risotto in the city--creamy and light with just a bit of chew left in the rice grain, an exquisite dish that only occasionally appears on the menu. Pierce's creativity and fierce editing makes for a lean and worldly menu.  Though 128 has crummy near-a-college parking, the wonderful valet service makes it easy to indulge while sparing yourself even an extra minute suffering in the cold. Plus, you'll find warm brownies and Izzy's ice cream for dessert.

128 Cafe Ribs, still exquisite even without the sunshine
128 Cafe Ribs, still exquisite even without the sunshine
Joy Summers

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