I was very lucky to take two trips to New York almost back-to-back in the last month, while I was there, I took advantage of an established food culture in NYC that is really just starting in my home town, food trucks. Not just fries and hotdogs, we’re talking serious gourmet offerings with fresh ingredients, ethnic culinary adventures and everything in between. I was delighted to write a guest post for the New York City Food Truck Association [View PDF]about my first adventure with the city’s amazing food truck offerings. On my second trip, I took my vehicular culinary exploration one step further: a food truck rally in Brooklyn.
How to find food trucks in New York
Finding great NYC food trucks is a combination of luck and research. Generally speaking, you’ll find food trucks where you find people. Midtown at lunchtime, Union Square and the Financial District.
If you want to launch more of a precision attack, I’d recommending going right to the source: the NYC Food Truck Association. Every day before lunch, the Association publishes a “roll call” on its blog, with up-to-date locations for each member truck. For my money, Twitter is the best resource for up-to-date location information and daily specials – and the occasional secret code for an extra treat. The NYC Food Truck Association has put together a list of its members which is the best one-stop shop I found (Twitter login required).
Grand Army Plaza Food Truck Rally
Now that summer is (mostly) here, good weather and a rumbling stomach is the only reason you need to head over to Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and eat your way through a dozen or more tasty offerings from NYC’s coolest and most adventurous food trucks.
Food truck rallies take place throughout the summer on the first and third Sundays of each month. I wanted to sample a few different offerings, but the first order of business was to go back to a favourite from my previous trip, Palenque, which serves up home-style Colombian food.
I should have had something more adventurous, but I had the exact same thing I ordered before and it was exactly as delicious as I remembered it: soft corn arepa with Oxaca cheese, hogao sauce (tomatoes, scallions and olive oil), cilantro, hot sauce with an agua de panela (sugar cane lemonade) for a beverage. Perfection!
It’s a filling meal, to be sure, but I left some room for dumplings at a truck I had heard plenty about, but had yet to find. Rickshaw Dumpling Truck offers up tasty combinations of flavours in easy-to-eat sizes, with complementary dipping sauces on the side. You could easily make a meal of their menu, just keep going back for more. I tried the traditional pork and Chinese chive with soy-sesame dip and a vegetarian edamame with lemon-sansho dip. I considered getting some to go for the long trip back to Nova Scotia, I’m sure the TSA would have loved that.
This pattern continued on for another half-hour or so. Wandering from truck to truck, studying the menus, trying a little bit here, a little bit there. It’s the best way I can think of to explore the culinary landscape of New York without making a reservation or standing on line for hours at a well-known restaurant.
My two food truck dominated-trips have only furthered my resolve to seek out street food in my travels and at home. Not only are food trucks and street food a great way to connect with local culture, they’re increasingly the domain of young entrepreneurs who are essential to sustaining local economies, both at home and abroad. In practical terms, eating from food trucks and street vendors is a terrific way to save time and stay nourished when you’re on the move. New York is an obvious choice for testing this theory, but I expect options in cities everywhere will continue to increase and culinary options while traveling will expand as a result.
What are your favourite food truck and street food experiences? Tips or recommendations for other cities? Fire away in the comments!
See for yourself:
New York City Food Truck Association
Summer food truck rallies, 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month (and Memorial Day weekend)
Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Subway: 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza; Q to 7 Av