Take a look around. Innovative chefs are driving food trucks, expanding their markets to bring delicious fun to downtowns. They serve a need, especially as lunch options for workers and as tourist attractions.
Take a look around. Innovative chefs are driving food trucks, expanding their markets to bring delicious fun to downtowns.
They serve a need, especially as lunch options for workers and as tourist attractions. The key is they go beyond the usual hot-dog wagons and offer gourmet food at reasonable prices.
But not everywhere. Some cities are protecting local restaurants’ interests. They claim the trucks are competition for tax-paying restaurants. Pittsburgh and Chicago are among those discouraging food trucks.
Note that in some communities, restaurants are operating their own trucks. Such is Maximus Minimus, the Seattle pork-o-mobile famed for pulled-pork barbecue from a piggy-shaped truck. It’s a startling vehicle that attracts a crowd. The truck hauls in money while promoting the operator’s restaurant and catering businesses.
In Cleveland, Ohio, the buzz is Chris Hodgson’s Hodge Podge truck, which finished second in “The Great Food Truck Race” on the Food Network. He’s turning the tables, opening a sit-down restaurant in March. Hodgson is following the lead of Chef Johnny Schultze, owner of Zydeco Bistro in Cleveland. He operates a food truck specializing in creole and Cajun cuisine, especially seafood.
In, Columbus, Ohio, they call them “street eats.” The city even sponsors a food-truck festival downtown. Cincinnati brags on its number of food trucks, including Cafe de Wheels serving deluxe cheeseburgers downtown. Calexico Mobile Foods in New York City offers famous taco carts downtown and recently opened a permanent eatery.
Carne Asada Tacos
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1.5 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of silver skin and most fat
1 small head cabbage, cored and shredded
Pico de Gallo or salsa
Put the first nine ingredients into a medium bowl, and whisk together. Pour into a gallon-size freezer bag, add the steak, and seal. Place bag into a large bowl and refrigerate, preferably 24 hours.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill, or heat a grill pan until very hot. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Grill about 5 minutes per side, until desired doneness. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.
Place one tortilla in a dry skillet and heat until pliable; flip and heat other side, then place in center of a clean towel. Repeat with remaining tortillas, stacking them. Wrap the stack in the towel to keep warm.
To serve, place a few slices of meat in a tortilla and garnish with guacamole, pico de gallo and shredded cabbage. Makes 8 tortillas.
-- Calexico Mobile Foods, New York City