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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

An Architectural Guide to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Route

The 85th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, November 24, 2011 beginning at 9 a.m. will follow a path from Central Park West at 77th Street down to Columbus Circle , then take a quick jog east on Central Park South before heading down 7th Avenue to 42nd Street. Here the parade takes another little jog east to 6th Avenue and then continues south to 34th Street. The finale moves one block west on 34th to Herald Square, the location of Macy's . Balloons from an earlier year try to pump themselves up the night before the big parade.

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli

Visiting New York on a Monday

Mondays are OK. Let's have a look at some of the museums open Mondays - • American Museum of Natural History • Jewish Museum • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) • National Museum of the American Indian • Neue Galerie • Guggenheim Museum • South Street Seaport Museum Any of these museums could be paired with a nearby restaurant or bar, making a complete full afternoon or day in New York. Monday is especially good for a museum visit, because the crowds tend to be thinner, and restaurants, too, tend to be less busy than on a weekend. A fun museum and bistro walk on the Upper West Side would be a combination of the American Museum of Natural History and the nearby Cafe Lalo on W. 83rd St. I also would suggest a pairing of the Neue Galerie with a nearby cafe, but the two cafes inside the musuem are so good, why go anywhere else? Image above: The Guggenheim on left and Beaux-Arts townhouse on right. View from E. 88th St. by Walking Off the Big Apple.