Skip to main content

Moveable Feasts in the City: New York Food Trucks and Carts

My lunch yesterday consisted of one pollo asada taco, small but tasty, and for dessert, a mini-wafelini. The taco consisted of chopped grilled chicken with a dash of pico de gallo and a creamy avocado sauce served on a couple of soft corn tortillas. The mini- wafelini was essentially a little piece of waffle on a stick tucked between slices of banana and strawberries. Both were delicious, and each came from a different food cart or truck parked on separate streets south of Houston Street.

The latest craze in gourmet street food may be found in other cities throughout the country, but the phenomenon has garnered lots of attention of late in New York. While eating at food carts is nothing new in the big city, the availability of gourmet quality food and adorable desserts has added an extra amount of fun to New York street life. In the past, I've frequently bought coffee off the Mud Truck, a movable coffee bar with a particularly nice brew, and near to home, I often pick up a cup of coffee and a pastry from a friendly guy with a cart on W. 4th Street. Buying food on the go is especially nice when I'm headed to the park with dogs.

This summer, the Cupcake Stop arrived on the streets, parking often on Fifth Avenue and loaded with mini and normal size cupcakes, and now the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck has made its dramatic entrance. Because so many of us are acting like screaming teeny-boppers at their very sight, I'm sure more entrepreneurs are thinking of new additions for our burgeoning culinary street life. The new brand of food trucks and carts are especially welcome in New York, a place where too often the only portable fare comes in the form of lukewarm and disappointing hot dogs. I often feel bad for poor tourists who are forced to sustain themselves in Central Park on hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches alone. But in addition to these new dessert trucks that serve up red velvet cupcakes and cha-cha ice cream, mobile culinary units like the Calexico Carne Asada Cart and the Rickshaw Dumplings Truck feature substantial and delicious food. By pairing their offerings with seasonal fare from fresh fruit stands it's possible to eat very well on the streets of the city.

The Calexico Carne Asada Cart, winner of the 2008 Vendy Award for street food, has achieved such a success that they've opened a sit-down place in Brooklyn this week. I mostly visit their cart when it's parked near the intersection of Wooster and Prince in SoHo, though the wait can be 15 to 20 minutes. The California Mexican food they offer reminds me of some of the places I liked in Austin (Guero's comes to mind), and between Calexico and Pinche Taqueria, an unmovable but small place at 277 Mott St., I feel I have met my Mexican comfort food cravings close to home.

For sweets, I recently tried out the new Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. The beauty of this operation is with its operator, a charming man named Doug, and the variety of toppings for soft serve ice cream. Doug recommended that I try vanilla with a blueberries and saba reduction, and this combo hit the spot. I look forward to going back and trying other flavors. I'm also fond of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, especially their pistachio and ginger flavors.

Many of the new food cart and truck operations take advantage of social media, namely Twitter, to alert potential customers of special locations and giveaways. Here's a partial list:

Calexico Truck: Twitter: @CalexicoCart
Wafels & Dinges: Twitter: @waffletruck
Cupcake Stop: Twitter: @CupcakeStop
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck: Twitter: @biggayicecream
Cravings Truck: Twitter: @nyccravings
Dessert Truck: Twitter: @desserttruck
Le Gamin Truck: Twitter: @legamintruck
Rickshaw Dumplings: Twitter: @RickshawTruck
Treats Truck: Twitter: @TheTreatsTruck
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: Twitter: @benwvl
LCB Burger Truck: @LCBBurger Truck

For further reading about New York food carts and trucks:

"Foodies Flock to Twitter-Friendly Carts" from NBC New York

• See other carts and trucks throughout the country with Twitter accounts on List of Street Vendors Using Twitter from Serious Eats

• New York Magazine. Grub Street: Street Fights: Food Carts and Trucks vs. the Brick-and-Mortars

Images: Calexico Cart, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Cupcake Stop, Wafels & Dinges.





Popular posts from this blog

The Company of Nature: Walking With Butterflies in Fort Tryon Park

If wandering the empty urban canyons feels a little lonely and depressing, a better idea would be to head to the nearest park. This past Saturday, a day that was sunny but not too hot, Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan turned out to be the perfect place to not only satisfy wanderlust but to rediscover the company of nature. Butterflies were there. Hundreds of butterflies - Tiger Swallowtails, Monarch Butterflies, Black Swallowtails, Cabbage White Butterflies, and Silver Spotted Skippers, among them. Moths, too, although I have not yet learned their names.  The Heather Garden is situated just beyond the entrance to Fort Tryon Park. With seasonal plantings, the garden is always a serene spot.  Observing butterflies involves watching their interaction with blooming flowers and shrubs. The Tiger Swallowtails are easy to find and found here in significant numbers. Just look for the Butterfly Bushes. The Cabbage White Butterflies are here in abundance, too, though not as showy as the swallow…

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Update: As of March 12, 2020, many New York arts institutions have temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Please see this post for announcements of reopenings.

Several museums in New York City are open on Mondays, including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney.

This list has been expanded to include free or pay-what-you-wish hours.


American Museum of Natural History Central Park West and 79th Street
See the post, Big Things to See at the American Museum of Natural History.
Cooper Hewitt
2 East 91st St.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave

Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave

Metropolitan Museum of Art 100 Fifth Avenue
See the post 25 Things To Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park is also open 7 days a week from March - October.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue

MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art), 11 West 53 Street: * Also, consult the post 25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern…

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers.

Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.  

Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been frequently occupied, as in Occupied, with crowds protesting police violence. This week, NYPD officers in riot gear remove…

The City Turned Inside Out: A Walk from Battery Park to Fulton Street

While the cast of HAMILTON sings “The World Turned Upside Down,” New Yorkers could easily hum along to “The City Turned Inside Out” this summer. (not a real song) Where once a city’s important work took place indoors - within the soaring office buildings, famous restaurants, legendary museums, and storied performance halls, the COVID-19 epidemic has literally turned the residents outdoors. 

At least it’s summer in the city, when spending time outdoors is common and pleasant enough. Still, the city remains strange this summer of 2020. 

With the absence of tourists, and with office workers connecting virtually from home, many of the city’s main attractions aren’t attracting many visitors. A walk from the Battery to Fulton Street on a pleasant Thursday afternoon bore this out. 

It’s uplifting to at least find plants that are alive and happy. Thanks to the city’s gardeners and landscapers, the city parks are looking particularly lush and splendid this summer. The grounds of Battery Park feel…

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City.


The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington.


First, catch a Metro-North Hudson line train to Dobbs Ferry, a village in southern Westchester C…

Starstruck at MoMA

(Update July 31, 2020. Please note: After reopening in 2019, MoMA is currently closed as a result of the pandemic. MoMA has not announced its reopening.) 
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Midtown Manhattan is undergoing a significant renovation and expansion that will increase gallery space by thirty percent upon completion in 2019. In the midst of renovation and following a long hot summer, the museum may currently look a little rough around the edges and even disorienting for longtime patrons. For starters, you’ll need to enter the museum on W. 54th Street instead of W. 53rd Street while the work is taking place, and the museum store is now currently on the second floor next to the coffee bar which has also moved.


This state of affairs didn’t stop visitors on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend from making a pilgrimage to the museum to gaze at treasures of modern art. In an age of quickly disposable digital imagery, the original and cherished works still exude their aura. Ironically,…

The Most Beautiful Bridge in the World

Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965), the leading proponent of the International Style of modern architecture, visited NYC on several occasions in the 1930s and 1940s, and he made much to say about the skyscraper city. He didn’t think much of the faux tops of the tall buildings nor did he care about the haphazard city planning, but he did fall madly in love with one particular bridge: 
"The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. The car reaches an unexpectedly wide apro…

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters.

As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk.



One such essay, "Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer, Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the advantag…

NYC Re-openings and Travel Advice

As the pandemic crisis improves in New York State, several NYC attractions are scheduling their re-openings. What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements.
UPDATED August 7, 2020. With the state of New York currently ahead of the class in the pandemic outbreak across the US, many favorite local destinations have started to reopen. The rollout is designed to be gradual, with geographic regions advancing according to a fixed set of metrics. 
New York City, the hardest hit area in the first months of the crisis, entered Phase 4 on Monday, July 20. The local exception: indoors of malls, restaurants, and cultural institutions.

Openings     
Phase 4 began in NYC on July 20. Stay outside! (Forward.ny.gov) NO indoor dining!
• Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC. 
• Outdoor dining has been extended through October 31. 
• On July 1, city beaches opened for swimming.
•…

Delacroix’s Cats

Following its record-breaking debut at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the blockbuster Delacroix exhibit has opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While not all of the works could travel, as some are intrinsic to the Louvre, the big cats made the trip to the city. For the Delacroix exhibit poster, the Met has selected Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, the artist’s great and surprising painting from 1830, as the signature and defining work of the exhibition.


Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863), known as the leading Romantic painter of his era, loved cats. His many notebooks show preparatory sketches of lions, tigers, and several charming domestic cats. The big cats, for the most part, made it into big paintings. At 52 x 76.6 in. (130 x 195 cm), Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, 1830, is astonishingly large for an animal painting of his time, a size normally devoted to a history painting. His most famous work, La Liberté guidant le peuple, dates from the same year.�…