So on June 27th, around 11am (I say around because I was 15mins late) Howard, our friend Steph and I met up at Grand Army Plaza to start our food truck journey. We had traveled from Park Slope to Williamsburg to the East Village to Union Square to the Flatiron District to West Harlem to the Meatpacking District to the West Village back to the East Village to SoHo and finally back to Park Slope. We had lost Steph half way through because she had to meet up with a friend. In the end Howard and I spent about 11 hours, 12 trucks, sore feet but loads of fun. *A sad note, the Le Gamin truck had to be in Jersey that day so we weren’t able to try it. Steph had the chance to eat the merquez sandwich earlier in the week and couldn’t stop telling us how good it was. Boo
Green Pirate Juice Truck
Location: Grand Army Plaza @ Prospect Park West
Donny: I see this truck a lot but never once have I thought of getting a juice from them. Juice just doesn’t tickle me the same way food does. I got myself The GP Lemonade which has lemon, red apple and cucumber. While waiting for my drink the girl behind me ordered her drink but asked for green apple instead. I took a sip of my drink. First impression, cucumber. The taste of the cucumber was very strong and basically took over the drink except the twang I got after the cucumber taste went away and THAT saved the drink. I wanted more of a balance of the apple and cucumber. It was a refreshing and good drink but just wasn’t what I was expecting.
Howard: While waiting for both Donny & Steph to arrive, I studied the menu of the Green Pirate truck. They seemed to include cucumber and/or celery in most of the drinks. I decided on the namesake drink, the Green Pirate ($5), which features green apple, cucumber, celery, and a “hint of ginger.” It’s funny, until I had the drink in my hand I didn’t really think about the fact that this was just fresh juice; I guess I was expecting something colder and more refreshing. The Green Pirate drink tasted very strongly of cucumber and celery, not so much of apple, though there was the promised hint of ginger. We all tasted each others drinks, and they all tasted, well, healthy. I got a seed in one sip, and at the bottom of my cup the juice got very thick with pulp (and a piece of grit). While at Grand Army we had planned to visit the Le Gamin truck, but it happened that they were at a private event in NJ.
Donny: Hey they got themselves a new truck and 2 people working in it instead of 1. It’s been a long time since I been to the wafel truck. Every time I go there it makes me think of the very first time I had a wafel from this truck. A cold random night in the West Village on my way home and there it was sitting on the side of the street. I walked up and ordered a wafel with whipped cream and strawberries. The guy quickly poured batter into the wafel iron. In 10mins or so I got my freshly made warm wafel. But after that every time I get a wafel its pre-made, which sucks ass. This time around it was no different though I’m pretty sure the wafel I got wasn’t toooooo old. I got my usual nutella and strawberries combo. Can’t beat that. Also I’m glad the prices were still the same. I wonder if next time I can ask them to make me a fresh one, that would be awesome.
Howard: I knew that we would have to pace ourselves for the upcoming adventure, so rather than order the full-sized Liege wafel that I really wanted I ordered a mini-wafel. I tried to order it with dulce de leche, but the guy told me that there was no way to top the minis without creating an awful mess. The mini wafel comes on a skewer like a shish kabob, sandwiched between a piece of strawberry and banana at each end. The wafel was hot, and chewy, and sweet, though the fruit was a little too warm for my taste.
Donny: I’m going to straight out say I was never a fan of Rickshaw Dumplings and nope I never been to a Rickshaw Dumplings restaurant. I know I shouldn’t decide on something before even trying it out but I know…I know just that I can get way cheaper and way better tasting dumplings in Chinatown. But since they have their own truck now I had to go try it. They offered pork, chicken or veggie style. To try and have room for other food trucks we decided to share one order of dumplings. We asked the guy in the truck if we can do have an order of chicken and half an order of veggie. He said no. Not because that was the rule but because it was physically impossible, he said. We thought he meant that each order of 6 dumplings were individually wrapped but then I saw him pull out a take-out box and place the dumplings inside. After paying for the dumplings, 6 for $6, we sat outside of Connecticut Muffin. I opened the box and found 6 normal looking dumplings with a tiny cup of sauce. When we attempted to get the dumplings out with our plastic forks we figured out why he said it was physically impossible to give us half and half. The dumplings were pretty much stuck together! I took one bite and found the dumpling skin to be chewy, of course, and the filling blah. Though I do want to go back and try their other dumplings just to see if the meat versions are just as bad.
Howard: Just about a block away and on the other side of the street was the Rickshaw truck, which features fake communist Chinese posters about dumplings, with sayings like “Who’s your edamame?” Clever..? So again, in the interest of pacing ourselves, we shared the one order of dumplings (though as Donny mentioned above we weren’t able to split different types of dumplings in the one order, so my vegetarianism trumped everything). We took our dumplings up to some benches outside of Connecticut Muffin and dug in. The dumplings were pretty good, though the texture of the inside was a little too mushy. There were only a few bits of whole edamame in the mix. The vinegar based sauce was a big help to the flavor.
Donny: I have a soft spot for the Treats Truck because this was the very first “food” truck I’ve been to and also Kim Ima, the owner, is super nice. Usually the Treats Truck gets to Park Slope at 11am but that particular Saturday she was there at noon. Good thing I checked the website before heading out. After eating the dumplings from the Rickshaw truck it was noon already so we started to walk up to Union St. between 8th Ave. and Prospect Park West. As we were walking up, we noticed the Treats Truck had just gotten to Union St and was trying, slowly, to find a spot to park. After a moment the Treats Truck had parked and was opened for business. We went up and placed our orders. I had looked at the menu the night before so I knew exactly what I wanted and that was the Mexican brownie. Like I said before, Kim Ima is super nice she asked me if I prefered side, center or corner. I picked a corner piece and it was a huge piece of brownie. It was nice and chocolatey, just enough of heaviness for me to finish the whole piece. Though the only thing I would change was the amount of cinnamon. I only tasted a hint of cinnamon. I wanted more of the cinnamon.
Howard: I’d also been to the Treats Truck before, and I’d gotten the Mexican brownie, which I also thought needed more cinnamon. This time I went for the pecan butterscotch bar. The woman asked me if I waned a middle piece, or an edge or a corner. I asked what she recommended, and she said I should get an edge piece. She was right — the edge was the best part of the bar, with a crunchier texture and a deeper, more caramelized flavor. The rest of the bar was a little too sweet. Now that I’ve eaten at the Treats Truck twice now, I remain on the fence about it. It basically tastes like home-made baked goods. In one view that’s commendable; in another it seems silly to seek out a truck and to pay for home-made brownies.
Donny: When I included this truck people had asked me, what about the truck at Habana Outpost? Both trucks are similar because they’re stationed at a single spot and don’t actually move around. I had 2 reasons for not including the truck from Habana Outpost. 1) The cash transaction does not take place at the Habana Outpost truck and 2) I’ve been there so many times that I wanted to save room for trucks that I haven’t been to. Are those valid reasons? Probably not but weirdly I just don’t see the Habana Outpost truck a true food truck. From Grand Army Plaza we took the B41 Limited bus and got off at the Atlantic Center and took the G Train on Lafayette St to Union Ave. We walked into an empty Union Pool and walked out to the patio area where the truck sits. There were few people there already eating food. I took a look at the menu and was debating about chicken or chorizo. I ended up ordering the chorizo taco. Too bad the cook was so high up, I couldn’t see what he was doing. But minutes later my chorizo taco magically appeared. He topped it off with diced onion and tomatoes, some cheese, cilantro and a wedge of lime. We sat under the shade and ate our tacos. I took a big bite out of it and found it awesome. Salty from the chorizo and cool from the tomatoes and onion. Maybe a little bit more cheese please? If we weren’t on a food truck crawl I could’ve easily eaten 10 or more of those. Yum yum! I’m not a fan of corn tortillas but whatever brand they used I was okay with. On to the next!
Howard: The veggie taco ($3) features beans and cooked salsa on top of two corn tortillas, topped with chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro, a sprinkle of cheese and a lime wedge. It was good, not great. The tortillas were very good and also useful for sopping up the filling which spilled out onto the plate when I picked the taco up. After eating we took a much needed break in the patio area behind the bar, which even has a couple of reclining deck chairs.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Location: Bedford Ave & N 8th St
We came across the VL truck quite accidentally, which was parked right in the middle of the Williamsburg Walks street fair. None of us were yet in the mood for ice cream, and we planned to visit another one of their trucks later in the day, so we passed it by. This is a decision we would come to regret.
Location: Bedford Ave & N 6th St
Donny: A not too far walk from El Diablo was Bedford Ave. Most of the cool part on Bedford Ave was blocked off for an artist street fair. We found Endless Summer not on Bedford but on N. 5th. I found the menu of Endless Summer a bit boring. They only offered beef pork and chicken. They do offer seitan for vegetarians so I guess thats a plus for vegetarians and seitan lovers. The wait time for my taco was about the same as El Diablo but unlike El Diablo we had to eat our tacos standing up but I guess thats the point of eating from a food truck. First bite…..hmmm okay okay. Second bite….hhmm yeah okay. Third and final bite…hmmmmm well its okay, its just okay. I’m sorry to all the Endless Summer fans but the chicken taco just didn’t do it for me. Overall it was dry. The chicken was dry and the corn tortilla was dry. What’s the hype about? Eh…was there any hype? The only thing that I liked about this taco was the layer of tomatillo sauce and sour cream. The sauce and sour cream were the only things I like about from this taco over the taco from El Diablo. It’s not really the best comparison though since I didn’t order a chicken taco at El Diablo.
Howard: I ordered a vegan taco ($3), which is topped with seitan. Although the tortillas and the seitan were both a little dry, the other ingredients tasted much more fresh than the ones at El Diablo. It was also good and spicy. I give the slight edge to the Endless Summer taco.
Donny: I’m sorry to say that I was a tiny tiny bit disappointed with the appearance of The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. I kept imagining a big purple ice cream truck but nope. It’s just a regular old Mister Softee with purple party decorations! I also thought that he offered really cool flavors but I was wrong also. He offered vanilla, strawberry and chocolate just like Mister Softee but the toppings were what set him apart from other ice cream trucks. We left the deciding to Howard so I didn’t get to study the list of toppings. Howard got a vanilla ice cream in a cup topped with sea salt and olive oil. When he told me thats what he was going to order I was a little afraid. Sea salt and olive oil aren’t my regular toppings but that day was an adventure and adventures mean trying new things. I dug right into the ice cream and ate the ice cream. WWWOOOOOOWWWWW it was soooooo good! Extra richness from the olive oil and the saltiness from the sea salt really made the already good vanilla ice cream even better. Also a big part of the ice cream truck was the owner. You could definitely see the passion from him to offer his customers the best ice cream and toppings.
Howard: This stretch of 4th St was closed off for another street fair, this one part of Gay Pride week. We found the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, bedecked with a little bit of purple tinsel, parked in the middle of the block. The proprietor was joking around with all of the customers, he was clearly having a good time. We were only half-way through our journey, so we decided to split one order between the three of us. We checked out the menu, and once I saw the olive oil and sea salt topping I knew we had to get it; I only hoped that Donny and Steph wouldn’t hate me for it. Luckily, it turned out to be amazing. It wasn’t only the salty/sweet combination that I love so much — the olive oil actually added flavor and (as Donny said) richness to the soft serve. Plus, it was really good vanilla soft serve. This became my favorite truck of the day.
Location: 3rd Ave @ E 9th St
We were walking from the E. Village up to Union Square and we randomly passed by the Dessert Truck. Again, it was on our list to visit later so we decided to pass it by. Steph double checked with them that they would be there until midnight, and we kept on going. This was a decision we would not come to regret.
Vinny Vincenz Pizza
Location: Union Square West @ E 14th St
Donny: After getting ice cream we walked from the East Village up to Union Square. There were tons of people at Union Square that day but Howard, through the crowds, found the pizza truck. Earlier Steph had told us that she saw the pizza truck once and the pizza didn’t look too appetizing. The pizza looked more like those Japanese plastic food display. Went we finally got too the truck I saw 2 pies being displayed at the window. They looked like they’ve been sitting outside for awhile. We decided to just share a regular slice. The guy in the truck didn’t even bother putting our slice in the oven to heat it back up and just gave it to Howard. Howard took a bite and quickly said I can have the rest. I know he loves pizza so for him to say that, it just means bad news. I took a bite and how true it was. It was probably one of the suckiest slice of pizza I ever had. The crust was bland and very doughy. The sauce was alright. I could’ve walked into any of the 100 Ray’s pizza place and get 100 times better pizza. Blah! Hurry! Next stop!
Howard: We approached Union Square and when I mentioned that the truck was indeed parked where I had seen it before, Donny looked disappointed. I think we were both starting to feel the effects of our journey. When I approached the truck and saw that the pizza was just sitting there on the “counter” I knew it wouldn’t be great. There was a guy standing there next to the truck who seemed to know the owner, but mentioned to me that it was “pretty weird” to serve pizza out of a truck but that it was really good. It wasn’t. Steph likened it to Chuck E. Cheese pizza, which I think sums it up nicely.
Vio Vibrancy Drink Truck
Howard: Parked directly behind the Vinny Vincenz truck was a truck handing out free samples of Vio drinks, and the line was quite long. Donny & Steph decided to try it, I stayed with my bottle of water.
Donny: I would like to add that it was sold as a vibrancy drink. It’s fizzy and milky and I didn’t like it. The guy in the truck asked the person in front of us if he was lactose intolerant.
Donny: I like my sweets to be not too sweet. I like my sweets to be not heavy but light. When I had the oreo crumble mini from Cupcake Stop few days before the food truck day I was surprised by how light and good the cupcakes were. So when we arrived to the cupcake truck I was confident yet cautious. I mean maybe the cupcakes were light and good just that day. Check their Twitter for daily flavors but I notice they always have red velvet and oreo crumb. That particular Saturday, they had red velvet, oreo crumb, Boston creme and hummingbird. Hummingbird was a walnut cake with banana, pineapple and cream cheese frosting. I was debating over the Boston creme and hummingbird but the Boston creme only came in regular sized and not in minis so hummingbird it was. The problem I have with bite sized food is that usually you need more than 1 bite to really taste the food. I peeled the cupcake paper off the mini and ate it in 1 bite. It was super light expected, nutty from the walnut and the taste of banana made it a pretty good cake. But like I said its hard for me to judge something with just 1 bite. Should’ve ordered the regular sized cupcake and hopefully they’ll bring back the Boston creme so I can try it.
Howard: I never got the whole cupcake craze, so I wasn’t expecting much from the Cupcake Stop truck. Again, thinking moderation, we ordered mini cupcakes ($1) each. Steph and I got red velvets, and to my surprise they were really good; moist and rich. When she saw that I was photographig the food, the woman in the truck asked to see the pictures. “They look better in the photo than in real life,” she said. I disagree. We also ran into one of Donny’s co-workers, who was stopping by for cupcakes as well. After leaving the truck we headed over to Madison Square Park for another, much needed rest. It was hard to find a spot in the shade, but we managed to do it. After resting up Steph took off to meet up with some friends who were in from out of town, and Donny and I headed up to the Upper West Side.
Super Taco – Yelp
Location: On W 96th St between Broadway and West End Ave.
Donny: I’ve been waiting for this. A taco truck that serves beef tongue tacos! Woooooooooo oh yeah. I placed my order and thought I’ll just stand back and patiently wait for my taco. Nope I got my taco within minutes. Love it already. Another surprised was that the tongue was actually in chopped into cubes instead of super thin slices. For some reason I thought it was gonna be super thin slices. I grabbed my taco, napkins and coke and quickly found an empty stop on the narrow counter that was attached to the truck. I took a giant bite and was oooohhhhhhhhh so good. Then I thought hmmm I think it needs some seasoing because the tongue was a bit bland. Oh wait! Forgot to put some sauces onto the taco. The sauces really made a difference. Super Taco was definitely the best taco truck that day. Cheaper, tastier and quick. Too bad its so out of the way for me but I really wanna go back and try other things on the menu.
Howard: Super taco was the busiest truck we visited all day. Plus, as I was taking photographs of the truck the workers were pointing at me and whispering to each other. For some unknown reason I decided not to get another taco, and instead ordered a quesadilla ($4). I know, I know, it’s my own fault. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t great. The sauces I put on top were good and spicy, but I could only eat about half of the quesadilla. Donny seemed enraptured by his taco; when I asked him how it was he just started nodding enthusiastically. After eating we headed over to Central Park where we met with our friends Matt & Phae, who were at a company picnic. It was another break in our journey, which was definitely slowing down now that it was coming to an end.
Donny: I had studied their menu the night before so I knew what I wanted, a croissant corner. I was wondering what IS a croissant corner? Well its actually nothing more than a regular old croissant. You do get a choice of filling and I got the mocha flavor. I have to say that the 2 owners in the truck were extremely nice. When they handed me my croissant they reminded me to grab a couple of napkins. Thanks! Like I said the croissant was just a plain croissant, though it was fresh and flaky, and the mocha filling could’ve used more mocha flavor. But it was pretty darn good.
Howard: In the shadow of the new High Line Park we found the Sweet Treats truck. I just wanted a quick snack at this point, so I got a chocolate chip cookie ($1.50), which they told me was only a half-hour out of the oven. There were lots of gooey chips in the cookie, but overall it was way too sweet for me.
Tacos El Angelo
Location: Christopher St & 7th Ave
Howard: We were unable to find the Tacos el Angelo truck at its usual location, probably due to the preparations for the Gay Pride parade. Upon realizing we couldn’t find the truck, Donny’s reaction was a heart-felt “Thank you!”
Donny: “Thank you!!”
Donny: This was my 2nd time at the Dessert Truck. I don’t remember what I got last time I just remember loving it very very much. I knew their bread pudding was their signature dish but something else caught my eye. Thyme cream?! Hm……yes please. The prices went up by a dollar since I last came. The guy in the truck handed me my dessert and thankfully it was parked next to those free newspaper stands. I was getting ready to snap a photo or 2 and this random lady came up and jokingly asked, “Did someone throw that out?” Ha…ha. Get away from my dessert! Anyways, so my dessert was a thyme creme with an angel food cake inside and topped off with local strawberries. I took a really big bite and oh it was so good, so good. Never would’ve thought to put thyme in whipped cream but it was soooo delicious. Thyme can be very overwhelming but there was enough of the herb to not overpower anything. The strawberries were cool and fresh. The angel cake was okay, could’ve used a bigger piece but the thyme cream was the star. It was such a celebrity that most of the dessert was the cream. I didn’t complain though.
Howard: Returning to the Dessert Truck, we had no idea that this would be our final truck of the day. I was full, but not to the point of sickness, so we each got our own desserts. Though I was tempted by the chocolate bread pudding, it sounded to sweet for me. I got the goat cheese cake with rosemary caramel, and I am awfully glad that I did. It wasn’t so much a cake as rich, tangy, sweet goat cheese surrounded by a puddle of caramel sauce. I was also impressed by the combination of rosemary and caramel; along with Donny’s thyme cream, this really opened my eyes to the possibilities of savory herbs in desserts. This was the best food we’d had all day.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream – Twitter
Donny: Howard noted that we had accidentally found the ice cream truck on Bedford but we weren’t ready for it yet. We had hoped to end out food truck day with a visit to their Park Slope location, where I had seen them 2 Saturdays ago. I kept checking on their Twitter feed that day but they only tweeted once in the morning and said they were at Greene St and Prince St in SoHo. So after the Dessert Truck we walked down to Soho to try our luck. Funny thing, we bumped into Steph and her friends and told them to go try the Dessert Truck. We got to SoHo and no Van Leeuwen Ice Cream truck in sight. *sigh. Then we decided to try our luck at their Park Slope weekend night spot which was 5th Ave and Carroll St. By the time we got off the R train at Union St. it was already close to 10pm. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be parked there since they didn’t tweeted at all and I was right. Just to triple check we walked up to 7th Ave and Carroll St. Not there either. Boo. Sadly our food truck adventure ended rather anti-climatic. Though we did end out night at the good old 12th St Grill and Bar. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Howard: This food truck adventure was a lot of fun. Not all of the food was great, but the real fun was traveling all over the city, seeing different neighborhoods, meeting all of the different people. Donny asked me at the end of the day if I’d want to do this again. I’d like to do another city-wide, day long trip, but I don’t think I’d want to recreate this journey. Why would I want to go to the pizza truck again? However, food trucks are continually popping up all over the city (and not everyone is happy about it). I’d like to visit more trucks. We know about El Rey del Taco up in Queens, but we didn’t have enough energy or room in our bellies for any more food on the day we did this. We also know about the Cravings truck, but they usually aren’t working on Saturdays. The Schnitzel truck and the beef truck are new addition, though as a vegetarian I don’t have any desire to visit them. Are there any more trucks we should try?
Donny: I had soooo much fun, tiring and feet pain, but fun! There were definitely disappointments and surprises. At the end of the day I just wanted to rub my belly and take a shower. As noted above by Howard, regret not trying Van Leeuwen when we saw it and maybe another beef tongue taco from Super Taco. I really want to go back to Cupcake Stop next time they have the Boston cream flavor, try other toppings from The Big Gay Ice Cream truck, and try El Rey del Taco in Queens.
What is the appeal of a food truck? Whats the difference between going up to the Cupcake Stop or going to Magnolia for cupcakes (besides the fact that I’m not a fan of Magnolia, sorry)? Okay cheaper prices but what else? Yes they are mobile, able to reach a wider audience but why do all of the food trucks crowd around Midtown?! What about Midtown South?! Few of the trucks do move south but around Chelsea. Whats so special about Midtown anyways?