Turkey To Go

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https://twitter.com/TurkeyToGo

www.turkeytogo.com/

 

Main Location: Minneapolis

            Everybody who grew up going to the State Fair in Minnesota knows of the turkey stand where you get the drumsticks and sandwiches. Unsurprisingly they hopped on the scene as one of, if not the, first Food Trucks after the law passed. Already having a transportable cart, ready business plan, experience, and readily available income source, hopping onto the street was a quick deal.

            One of the very few carts (still haven’t seen an actual TRUCK) on Nicollet, Turkey To Go focuses on two things, and two things only: Drumsticks and Pulled Meat Sandwiches. Barbecue sauce is an optional topping for both.

            Unlike most other trucks, Turkey To Go tends to get in a little early and stay out an hour or two later. Very much durable, it is quite likely for you to see them out in harsher weather and later on in the year as well.

Food: 6

             I’ll give them credit, they know how to cook a turkey; the meat is tender, and flavor is still there. The pulled turkey is juicy, there is just the right amount of pepper; soaks into the bun and makes it a good food between stops.

            On the other hand, as far as drumsticks go, I have had a lot better and more enjoyable ones at Renaissance and other Fairs. Though the sandwich is good for a pulled turkey, that is all it is. Just turkey on a bun, nothing else besides it; something like that can only get so good.

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Holdability: 7.5

            The sandwich holds easily in one hand, though the last one I tried had noticeable problems with drippage and soaked bun. Drumstick, surprisingly, is a sit-down fellah; cooked slowly in juices as opposed to the firm style of smoking.

Price: 9

            Very good deals, charging only $5.50 for a juicy, hunger-quenching sandwich.

Speed: 10

             Already cooked beforehand, serving is simple placing into a basket or a bun and there ya go.

The TOE: 4

             Normally, when a Food Truck decides to serve only 1-3 items that taste good, I tend to like them more; the act enhances the attitude and feeling of the Truck. This, however, isn’t really the case for TTG; for whatever reason they just feel FLAT as a stand for me. The fact is they’re a business, built off the one stand at the State fair and 3 other small stores throughout the Twin Cities area. You can tell when you go there, it just feels different than other places; the chef at the register is friendly and fun to talk to, but… maybe it’s a history thing.

                       Tally: 37.5/50

Final Thoughts

            When you’re on the go near Nicollet and need something to eat, grab a sandwich for a quick, well-priced and satisfying lunch. I might suggest doing it without the sauce; very rare to find a perfectly peppered, juicy cooked turkey, might as well appreciate it as-is.

             Avoid the drumstick, there are much better ones available at the Renaissance. Considering we all know you only have a Turkey Drumstick once a year anyways, you can wait until then.

Messy Giuseppe

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www.messyg.com/

https://twitter.com/MessyGTruck

Main Location: St. Paul

            Our cities’ first Italian-based truck, Messy G’s (as they like to call themselves… I think…) takes our childhood sloppy joe and ramps it up with the rich, spiced tomato sauce and hot… well I don’t know what kind of meat, secret recipes and all. They then top this special mix with a slice of provolone, letting the conserved heat of the sloppy melt it down to gooeyness.

            Besides the Joe, Messy G’s offers quite a few other Italian-based hoagies and sandwiches, using cured and cooked meats with various toppings. Giardinara, basically a spicy Italian vegetable relish with larger cuts of various veggies, is used often, and a prize topping to get if you still haven’t tried yet. They also offer a grilled cheese with honey, basil, and tomato on Vienna bread… mmmmmm, if I go again that’s my main goal.

Food: 6

            It all looks and sounds good, but the meat in a lot of the hoagies can seem somewhat hoagie-generic; like what you’d find in a restaurant who’s focus is something else but still serves. The sloppy joe tastes good, but the meat is very loose (well, loose for a sloppy joe). When I had mine the spicyness just seemed to stand out too much. There was not really any “depth” to the spice either, felt like just heat (and I’m good at picking out flavor depth in spicy foods, why I love curry so much).

            The food is still good, and there are nice gems here and there, the grilled cheese for example. However, I still feel there might be better options out there when it comes to flavor.

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Holdability: 4

             You cannot walk with the Messy Giusseppe at all; you have to sit down, grab a few napkins and buckle down. If you can pick it up and eat at least half with just your hands (both are required), then good onya; but at some point you will need a fork and, possibly, knife to get the rest.

             Other sandwiches are a lot easier to hold and walk with, but they are served in a basket, and some risk a little spillout from giardenera and other toppings. I debated raising the score a bit because of this, but the Messy G Sloppy Joe is the item most people get, it’s what they advertise, so that shall act as the bulk of the score.

Price: 7.5

             Tends to be slightly higher around the $8-9 range. The hoagie with cured meats is probably worth it; they use some nice cuts for that.

Speed: 9

              A lot of pre-made, ready-to-assemble items; all they need to do is spread the buns, push in the meat and let the toppings explode (… sorry, I hang out with a very dirty crowd at times). The Sloppy Joe is very quick itself, so one has very little of a wait.

The TOE: 6.5

              They have a great concept, they have taken a beloved childhood food and made it adult-worthy. Many of the other sandwiches are pure on-the-go focused. Truck design itself is very fun, bright, and appealing, with the people behind the booth exactly what you want to see. However, once you get the food, a lot of that just becomes… a little skewed.

              Way I see it, they are VERY close to that little “wavelength” of what true “Food Trucks” feel like, but they just aren’t there. That can make it feel weird when thinking about it. It is that “ahhhh, so close!” event that seems to distort it even more than if one was just a little farther away.

                      Tally: 33/50

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Final Thoughts

            I understand that a lot of people really like this truck, and that it has been voted best in the Twin Cities by one or two local magazines. To tell the truth, I am really hoping that maybe I just had a bad batch of sloppy joe, and that the other pictures taste a lot better than they look. I expect to get some flak from this particular post.

           I have studied these things, been around them; I trust my taste buds, and I know grey meat when I see it.

          Now, as for my suggestions: when you can sit down, certainly still get the Sloppy Joe; it may be spicy, but it’s a good fork n knife meal. When walking is required, either go to another truck, or grab the Grilled Cheese or the Hoagie; it has some nice cured meats on it.

          Ultimately, there are probably a few better options out for same or similar prices; if you crave Italian or options are limited, it is still a good stop.

Tot Boss

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http://www.totboss.com/index.html

https://twitter.com/TOTBOSStruck

Main Location: St. Paul

            Another recent addition in the last year, Tot Boss is the stereotypical truck one would think when asked the question: “What kind of Food Stand should we open up in Minnesota?” And thank god, Dan Docken finally decided to put this idea into action and come out. I truly can’t think of how we actually got through those previous two years without it.

            There’s really nothing much to say or define this fantastic stand; no little intricacies, no hidden techniques, no up and down between differentiating items. Tator tots, tator tots, tator tots, all with different toppings and sides; that is all it is, and it is glorious.

            All the food on the menu is pure heart-clogging goodness, with baskets covered in poutine gravy, nacho cheese, chili, and various other tot-twisted bar food comforts. One can always just get a simple basket of plain tots with dipping sauce and maybe some corn dogs. The most they ever do on weird and creative is putting the lovely tots in a burrito with beef and nacho cheese; served with more tots on the side of course.

            I personally don’t think there’s anything else you need to know, so let us get right to the ratings.

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            Oh yeah, a lot of their items are Gluten Free… just don’t ask me about fat and salt.

Food: 8.5

           Oooey, gooey, fried-potato crunchy goodness. This is the food you sit down with a beer with after ripping up your diet schedule for the day. It is not about high end, not about subtle spices, it is just GOOD. I mean what’s better than a Tator Tot? These you can get with gravy and curds, nacho cheese and toppings, cheese and bacon, and casserole style.

           One stand-out downside, surprisingly, is the tots wrapped in bacon. Sounds good, and isn’t all that bad, but the bacon is thin and frozen before frying, so it loses a decent amount of its best qualities. The sauces on the side can also be somewhat beneath the peak of what one would hope for.

Holdability: 6

           Every menu item comes within a basket, so two hands are required, however you still have the burrito and bacon-tots on skewers. With their heft, you definitely want to sit down and chow, but you could probably walk around with most of these without too much issue.

Price: 10

            Six dollars is what you will spend on almost every item. That is the highest you will go without buying extra dipping sauces, which come out as only 50 cents each. Tots on their own are $4.50, which I might be tempted to strike off half a point for, but whoever goes to this truck and just gets plain tots deserves to pay an extra dollar or two than they want.

Speed: 8

             Good speed, nothing to worry about or exclaim to high praise; all they’re doing is frying tots (which I expect they just keep going before the actual orders for when they get a line) and topping with your gooey sauce and extras of choice.

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The TOE: 10

              It’s a truck that only sells Tator Tot dishes; not only does this fit the unique theme concept that will often define the aura of a good Food Truck, it’s a perfect addition to our Minnesotan tastes. Whether we want to admit it or not, we grew up on meat, potatoes, and tator tots in school lunch (and later on, bar snacks). This truck is a full-on celebration of this fact, bringing back the nostalgia and cravings for that giant mound of fried deliciousness. Any person that can do that gets a full 10 in my book.

                       Tally: 46.5/50

Final Thoughts

            Go when you have the room to get some good, stomach-filling food, and preferably when there is a place you can sit down to better enjoy. Avoid the Bacon-wrapped and go straight for the Poutine, Nachos, Loaded or Hotdish (or whatever you feel like really, all good).

            Great for when you really are on a budget and want a lot of food. Bad for when you actually care about your cholesterol (still don’t understand why you would though…).

Aussie’s Kebabs

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http://www.aussieskebabs.com/#

www.facebook.com/pages/AussiesKebabs/235287979819987

https://twitter.com/AussiesKebabs  

Main Location: Minneapolis

              One of our newest entrants to the street world, I first heard about Kebabs through a fellow classmate, who mentioned a friend/workmate of his starting a new stand. What do you know, when the next day I’m down with the Food Trucks I spot this smaller, steel-colored box snug between two of the giant cars. In front is a small line starting in front of a man holding a tablet, as the big wooden sign details us of the Booth’s (and that’s really what it is, a large booth, but with wheels for moving around) simple offerings.

               Now, before you get ahead of me, no these are not the random pieces of meat and vegetables shoved on a skewer. We don’t want any sword-fighting in the streets (okay, WE  do, but the food truck owners don’t need to worry about the lawsuits).

               Doner Kebabs are an Australian street food made from a gyro-like meat, both regular and chicken. Wrapped in a larger, thinner flatbread than the traditional pita, they’re served with spicy garlic-chili sauces and various other fillings. Finally, Kebabs presses in a Panini grill, sealing the edges, getting it crispy, and taking that sandwich experience to the next level. (As does any good Panini)

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               Kebabs simplifies, offering only 3 options for press, with your choice of sauce and variety of veggies for extra. They also have a salad, though why would you stand in line for lettuce?

Food: 7.5

                The pinnacle of a gyro all wrapped up in a perfect package, the lamb-pork meat is tasty and spicy, sauces are sharp, and the tortilla-like flatbread crisp and soft. Veggies, however, are placed in raw, which can lead to certain items ending up watery and bland due to only partial cooking; not sure what I think about warm lettuce either. Avoid this by choosing your toppings carefully.

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Holdability: 9

                Press is tight and sealed, the only thing escaping being a few trickling of juice right down your hand and wrist. Everybody knows that’s usually the best part. Very easy to walk around with only one hand available.

Price: 9

                All presses are around $7, but let me tell you the real deal for this booth; if you want different and extra veggies, they don’t screw you over with charges. 15 cents is all they charge for each addition, meaning very easy customization for non-wallet bending costs.

Speed: 5

               Their only real drawback I’ve found, due to the fact that for every single order they have to slice the meat from the stick, mix and wrap things together, and press for a few minutes. Now, this doesn’t sound so bad, until you realize that they only have two sandwich presses in their small area.

               This ends up where even the smallest of lines can end up a decently noticeable wait for your order.

The TOE: 9

               Doner Kebabs is an absolutely fantastic idea for street food; it takes something we are all so very familiar with but changes it just enough to provide a unique eating experience you can walk around it. My favorite thing about them though is their booth, that small little thing that looks like it should be squeezed in the corner and out of the way. You can’t help but think it belongs in some international market bazaar between a soup stand and a tent made of beads… though it might be a little flashier.

Service: -1.5

                Alright, the first time I actually tried to eat here, I had to give up; the line was taking an incredibly long time to move, despite the fact there were only about 5-7 people in it. My next time moved a little faster, but it was still quite slow. This mainly because, for whatever reason, the person taking the order was trying to do it on some sort of Tablet-related Program, despite the fact the kitchen window was RIGHT BEHIND HIM. Pencil and paper would have done the job a lot faster, which most other food trucks have already figured out.

                To be fair, they had only just opened, but it is very difficult to see them moving to something acceptable anytime soon. I really do HOPE that they’ve been able to work past these beginning problems; they really have the potential to be one of the Pillars of Food Truck scene.

                I can’t wait until the day I read a new comment telling me how wrong I am now about this.

                       Tally: 38/50

Final Thoughts

               Do not try to visit if you are at some Food Truck Gathering Event or if you are in a rush; both the wait in line and wait for the food will not be kind. However, when you’re walking down the street on a cool day and you see them standing with only a couple people in line, take a stop and enjoy something fantastic. Try the chicken while you’re at it, it looks good.

              For extra veggies, these are the ones to avoid:

  • Mushrooms (put in almost raw, lot of water pushed out, not fully cooked)
  • Cucumbers (don’t like the idea of cooking cucumber; get the Tzatziki sauce instead)
  • Pineapple (lukewarm-hot steamed pineapple isn’t pleasant)

Cupcake on the Go

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www.cup-cake.com/

https://twitter.com/cupcakempls

 

Main Location: Minneapolis

            It’s not a food blog unless we visit desserts, and when we look at sweet-based food trucks, we’re talking cupcakes. Not only are our cities gifted with two fantastic traveling Cupcakerias (still working on my Spanglish…), one of them has proven itself BETTER than others on the National scale.

            Cupcake on the Go, the mobile orange van based off of Cupcake (now with a shop in the Mall of America!) featured itself on 4 different episodes of the last two year’s Cupcake Wars. They came in Second on the first, climbed back to First by winning the Redemption episode. Then they went on to win both episodes of Food Network’s very first Cupcake Champions show.

            Anyone else a bit weirded out that this much State Pride would be cupcake-related?

            The little orange van itself sells a wide variety of their different little bundles of joy. Displaying them with little stickers on the side of the door (sorta like an ice cream truck… but better), making it easy to switch out every now and then, which I imagine they do often. For what they are selling now, one would have to wait until they come out, or you could just go straight to the store for the full gambit.

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            Generally a combination of both simpler, well-known styles and unique creations; both well done and quite tasty. One of the more interesting items is a chocolate cupcake with a small amount of cheesecake batter poured on top before baking. I forget the name, but it is a fun little snack and easy to spot; it’s the weird looking one.

Food: 9

             Hello, they beat out 14 other top-ranked competitors in a Food Network series. If their cupcakes weren’t this delicious I would be shocked. Cake is soft, frosting smooth and not too sugary or heavy, flavors come out very well. Due to the pre-packaging, though, I can’t imagine the cakes out of the van truly being QUITE as good as those being made and sold right in the store. So a one point deduction.

Holdability: 9

              They don’t fall apart, easy enough to hold in one hand. May need to peel back with your teeth if the other hand isn’t available; who cares though, that’s just part of the fun. Can get a little messy depending on what you buy, but that’s frosting-messy, no risk of falling apart and getting on shirt/ground.

Price: 9

               To tell the truth, I’m very hazy and unsure if I’m making the right call in this grading. It always feels weird to have to pay so much for cupcakes these days; on the other hand, around $3 is still a small amount compared to other food truck offerings. At the end of the day though, these are pretty darn good cupcakes, and worth any questions of “this much for a cupcake!?” So, 9 points for a cheap purchase.

Speed: 10

               Much like Potter’s Pasties; you tell them what you want, give them the money, and they give you the cupcake ready-to-eat. Hard to get much faster than that.

The TOE: 8

                It’s an orange van that travels around and gives out cupcakes. They’re very fast, very tasty, and a perfect addition to any Food Truck-related 3-or-more-course Meal. Very close to the pure feeling of Food Truck, yet there just seems to be a little something missing… I wonder if it’s the height (small car). Though, it looks like they may be changing vehicles, so this score may change as well.

                         Tally: 45/50

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Final Thoughts

            Go out, get your lunch at your favorite Truck, and grab a quick cupcake for dessert with your extra couple dollars. If, for some strange-ass reason, they don’t have a flavor that you like, then find their shop on University or MOA to find your ideal snack. If you have the money to spend and the sweet tooth to match (or friends), grab a few different kinds and give them a full product sample.