New Bohemia Truck

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https://www.facebook.com/newbohemiafoodtruck/
https://twitter.com/newbohemiamn
Main Location: Minneapolis, Etc

With what’s likely my last solid truck review of the year (unless for some reason I’m actually able to find another yet-to-hit food truck in the upcoming insanely busy, hectic, and cold holiday season), I take on the result of one of the Midwest’s own growing bar concepts. Taking the heart of casual soul food that is German and Eastern-European faire, my favorite kind by the way, New Bohemia has opened at least 6 different locations based mainly around a wide selection of Beers and amazing sausages.

I’ve dined there myself a year or so ago, so I’ve seen the results of their work and atmosphere. Thus it was no surprise to chain adding a food truck to their lineup; there’s clearly both the ability and success for them to do so.

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Obviously their truck can’t shell out ice cold pints of frothy goodness, but they do have Draft Rootbeer and basically everything else! 10 different options for Bratwurst from basic Beer to unique/interesting Teriyaki Chicken to practically-insane Rattlesnake-Rabbit. These are split, grilled, and piled in a bun with the two toppings of one’s choice (Bacon Sauerkraut, Spicy Kraut, Sweet-Hot Peppers, Beer Cheese, Cole Slaw, or Beer Butter-cooked Onions); along with a veritable smorgasbord of different housemade Beer Mustards to squirt on at your leisure. Of course this also includes some Beer Cheese Curds, and… a ‘Giant Pretzel the Size of a Pizza’!? For $14, that thing better be huge!

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… yep, that’s a big pretzel. Could have eaten my food off of it… as much as I don’t care about pretzels for lunch even I’m highly curious about  what it tastes like. Moving on, then there’s the apparent chance for Fries, which similarly to the sausages gets the chance for 2 free sauces from its own group. Oh, and for whatever reason… two Salads (Strawberry Spinach and Apple Jicama).

As much as I’d like to try and think of a cutesy or informative paragraph to briefly entertain your reading, this article has been long enough coming and I need to get it out. With luck, in perfect time for the Turkey Day Season! So enjoy the last review for a while, cheers (toasts with a pretend beer since they wouldn’t give him a real one)!!

Food: 9

                Duck and Cilantro was my option of choice… because I’m too cheap to even go a dollar over for one of the ‘adventurous’ meats I love so much. Though to be fair, I DID try one of them a couple years back in the bar itself and loved it… just can’t remember which one. With a solid little snap, the skin is joined with extra flavor and texture from the ‘split-grilling’ method, whereas a link is sliced almost fully in half, spread like a butterfly, and griddled inside-down to cook for service. Always a delicious way to enjoy. Especially when the base sausage itself is just darn good, and if one can say anything about Bohemia, much like any decades-old family-run butcher/charcuterie, they’ve got their sausage recipes DOWN. Flavorful, balanced, peppery and/or herby and/or spicy and fatty where it needs to be. Num. If I remember correctly, the bun holder did not get any, or much, actual toasting, which would have helped to elevate the enjoyment even further.
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As for the toppings, of course I went for the Kraut, no complaints there! And the Beer Butter Onions seem to be quite a signature: they tasted good, but I was hoping for more cooking/grilled-caramelization, more beer flavor, and more BUTTER, I mean please it’s in the name. The sauces I tried for the fries, wasabi-ginger AIOLI and stout bbq, were both similarly well made as expected. And yes I got some fries to go with it; it’s classic, and much cheaper than getting a secondary sausage. Good texture on the outside, soft on the inside, addicting simple seasoning work, if one WANTS fries with their dog for lunch it’s definitely not an option you’ll regret.

Holdability: 7

                 For a sausage, the end-of-the-day verdict isn’t quite as ideal for holding as one would expect. Piled with that kraut and onions, or whatever toppings you choose, in a large soft bun, picking this up isn’t quite as clean and easy, so it’s good that it comes in a basket. Though of course the Curds, Pretzels, and Fries eat clean with fingers, but are again basket foods (okay maybe not the pretzel, but how often are you likely to buy that?). Part of me feels so ridiculous still talking about this… but the other part of me loves stubborn, weird consistency!!

Price: 8.5

                  A range of $6.50-$8 depending on your selected ‘level’ of sausage, which comes at a decent size so can be a nice stand-alone lunch. That said, if you want fries will have to fork over $3-4, so might as well get the larger option, making a complete meal not so bad considering (especially since they ARE good fries). We’ve already mentioned the $14 Pretzel (oh look there it is again), then there’s $8 for the Beer Curds (there better be a lot), and finally $5-8 for the Salads… which shouldn’t even be worth mentioning, guh.
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Speed: 6.5

It’s been a while since the visit, but I remember wondering why it took more than five minutes to grill a sausage, which should have been pre-cooked already and simply needing the searing. I know the fries weren’t an issue, I saw that they do batch-frying so that it was ready to just scoop into baskets as needed. Sides and sauces should similarly be heated and needing scoopage. That said it wasn’t truly a ‘long’ wait, just a bit more than I expected considering.

The TOE: 9

                  Though it’s from a pre-existing chain, the business itself has developed enough identity, feel, and uniqueness that it easily transfers onto the food truck to separate its own ‘air’ distinctly from others; if anything, it’s ideally suited for a mobile business.
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Tally: 40/50

Final Thoughts

Despite not having it myself, one should keep Bohemia in mind for one of the strong possibilities in acquiring quality drink consumption for your street-based lunch with their Local Draft Root Beer. I forget where it was from, but it wasn’t something I was immediately familiar with and sounded damn good. Speaking of unique things to them, though I find great curiosity and excitement in the idea, at the end of the day the ‘Giant Pretzel’ is just something kitschy, and likely not really worth it, especially for fourteen dollars. If they offered it for less, maybe at ten, then certainly consider it; but I know how much it costs to make, just ignore for now unless REALLY wanting some fun group snack to slather in mustard and various side sauces.

Truly, I cannot pick your guides in the world of all things linked, especially with all the little ‘categories,’ but a suggestion from each sounds fun right? Definitely do a Macaroni and Cheese-stuffed for the heavily affordable Classics, the Duck w/ Cilantro in Premiums (just solid goodness), and for those feeling experimental (which you really SHOULD be) the Rattlesnake-Rabbit is a rare white-meat treat. The Fries are NOT a bad decision, especially alongside Jalapeno Beer Cheese, Wasabi-Ginger Aioli, or Stout BBQ.

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Very much would I like to go back and ask what beer is in the Curds batter for yet another potential truck to get a good version from.

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Loud Mouth

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http://loudmouthmn.com/
https://twitter.com/loudmouthmn
Main Location: Minneapolis, St. Paul

I didn’t think it’d take this long for me to properly make it to this particular truck! My first sight of them was at the capital while hitting Filius Blue, but I had already gotten enough from THEM to make it quite difficult to focus on anything else. Though while stopping by I did ask about the place, somehow ended up with a little side salad (it was fresh and tasty, but hasn’t been featured since so I don’t feel like really focusing on it). My second time was during my visit to Sal’s, where my cousin DID get one of their items; but can’t base a review off of just one. So I set to wait until I could get the SECOND of the two sole items that appeared consistently from them, and found yet a third time in downtown Minneapolis, where I was waiting and ready to add into that day’s food truck tasting lineup… and saw they had MORE menu items. Distinct ones too. And I was spending enough money on other things that day anyways!

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But I finally made it down to visit them solely recently! Now it is the time to feature the Loud Mouth food truck! The idea may have started in 2013, but the truck finally realized itself early on this summer; if I remember correctly, actually, my first sighting of them was during their beginning week.

On first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a particular connecting theme amongst menu items, but further inspection and asking questions leads to finding out about where this all COMES from. The Beef comes from the owner’s own family farm, the Pig from a friend’s homegrown operation, and they even have a friend in Alaska working on a Salmon boat that flies in fresh, super-seasonal catches when available. Would imagine the accompanying vegetation is also kept local, fresh, and properly farm-grown as the proteins, though don’t quote me on this.

They bring these on the menu in the form of a Bacon Cheeseburger, Jerked Pulled Pork Sandwich (and I swore I thought I saw them make a ‘Cuban’ one day, but again don’t quote me), and Bowls often topped with some kind of Chicken, currently Thai with Rice and Pulled with Mashed Potatoes. When they have the Salmon on board, it usually comes in two forms; the ‘original,’ definitely noted on my first pass-by, where it’s simply plated with rice, Asparagus/Green Beans, and a Hollandaise I believe. The second form is a Taco with Pineapple, Pickled Onions, Cilantro and more of that sauce. Many of which come with your flavor choice of Dutch Kettle Chips… you know, just cuz.

Now let’s go ahead and see how if the food is as ‘loud’ as their name implies.

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Food: 7.5

                Got quite the collection of little things to try out for this one! Starting off is the Bacon Cheeseburger, topped with house-made Pickles and generic yellow mustard. The beef has that notable ‘charred pub/grillhouse’ style to it, and comes in tender, moist, and a very enjoyable mouth sensation alongside the cascade of cheese, meaty bacon, and subtly ‘pickly’ pickles. Overall I was very glad I chose to get a burger from here. Though talking about the bacon, which I’m guessing is made by them considering their sourcing and how thick it is, the moment the pickle toppings disappear (which can easily happen around halfway through consumption), it does end up making the burger a little too salty when combined with that notable grill char. I’d say this could easily be solved one of a few ways: add some Tomato-based element, like roasted or sauced; have the griddled/caramelized onions SLICED instead of that tiny dice, you barely really experience them like they are now and sliced would cover MORE of the burger easier; or make a sweet-tangy sauce. Any of those could help cut through/neutralize the little extra salty-fatty aspects. But that’s a rather minor concern here at the end of the day.
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A point that their OTHER sandwich, the Pulled Pork, also suffered from. Not on the salty side, but the fat… any regular can see that I do enjoy a gluttonous adventure of fatty goodness, but there ARE times and foods where too much can turn even me off, especially depending on the kind of fat. And sadly I just found this pile of pig to be rather on the unsavoringly heavy with the fat flavor and feel. Which is a shame, because there’s an easy way to fix it… Sauce. Which they top it with… but just not enough. I was rather excited going into this, as I LOVE a good Jamaican Jerk flavor, but I could barely taste it, except for one or two bites with a particularly concentrated amount. And theirs has a nice flavor, sort of more on the refreshing and soft aspect, barely any heat at all. But clearly it’s not strong enough with intensity to hold up. The sandwich either needs MORE sauce, a stronger flavor, or both. After which I would hope they start actually mixing and tossing it WITH the pork to help cut through the fat, both palate wise and physically too. Then again, I could have just gotten an unfortunately fatty scoop and a regular one is much better, but it’s something to consider.

Then we come to the Salmon! The fish itself: tender, cooked well, delicious, classic seared salmon, no complaints. Love that they use masa tortillas with the classic double-layering, always adds a nice note. I THINK I recall wishing there was either more pickled onions or some other accompanying element; yes, because at the end of the day everything in here comes together as all one soft texture. It sorely needs more crunch. Overall though it TASTES good, it’s all nice together… but there’s something about it that doesn’t quite ‘click’ for me. I know I love and vouche for fusion and twisting a lot, but that highly classic/’fancy’ flavors of salmon and hollandaise… it just doesn’t feel quite right being put into a taco as so. I think, for me, it’s simply that its accompaniments don’t fully bring it into a category reminiscent of ‘street tacos;’ they taste good but it doesn’t feel like it’s been properly dragged kicking and screaming into the world of street food flavors. And considering they DID use masa tortillas as opposed to flour, it feels as if they SHOULD have applied those different flavors; like getting chipotle in a pineapple salsa or something.

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But, at the end of the day, I recognize that these particular inhibitions are probably just me. The item itself IS rather unique, a cross between two worlds, and still tastes good. For whatever reason I’m sure I just don’t quite ‘get’ it as well as other customers may. So take that little rant with a grain of salt.

Holdability: 7

                 We’re really all across the board here. Though it comes in a basket, the burger on its own wasn’t really much of a mess, in fact I could have probably handled it somewhat easily, maybe some mustard and burger juice on the hands, with a wrapping and one hand if I didn’t have to deal with the pork! Then of course I imagine those bowls to be rather convenient for a two-handed-required walk-and-consume meal with a fork, and we all can imagine the convenience of tacos; though their particular style, with pineapple and such, did tend to be a little ‘juicier’ and not so ‘tight’ as the more classic Central American street food. Of course I just can’t imagine the salmon plate having ANYTHING to do with eating on-the-go, need to find a place to sit for that one. And finally, the pulled pork WAS a bit of a fatty-overflowing mess, so I was glad I had the basket for that.
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Price: 7

                  $9 each for the Burger and Sandwich, I DO believe the Salmon Tacos were the same but that could have been more like 8; what I do remember is the ‘Salmon Plate’ on its own cost  $12, not necessarily bad but then again I’m not sure how much fish one actually gets. And the newer-to-menu items, the all-in-one Bowls, come at  $10.

Speed: 8

Only took about 5 minutes for that burger; average wait time, though rather decent for how long burgers this CAN take on a truck. Not to mention you get to occupy some of that time munching on your kettle chips of choice.

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The TOE: 7.5

                  Initial impressions during the first times I spotted Loud Mouth sadly weren’t all that overwhelmingly characteristic; I see a big truck that says ‘Loud Mouth,’ a crew that talks about their fun and creative attitude… and a menu that just has a Burger and Salmon. Probably the most generic and clichéd items one imagines a new culinary student would come up with. BUT, I’m very glad I got to wait for a more full experience. The menu expanded, they added a taco version of the salmon, the distinctive Bowl-focused menu items, it’s started to take a more solid and personality-driven shape. Then I actually looked on their website where they talked about the local, seasonal, amazing sources for their beef, pork, and salmon, and was like ‘Awesome! Now this has something that gets a part of me behind it!’ So much so that I WISH they were able to translate that more on the truck; like really listing it on the menu, getting something on the side of the truck, a ‘slogan,’ something… it would have been nice if they chose a name that might have expressed this about themselves JUST a bit more, something that would make us wonder about the story more [a-la Curious Goat did so well]. If possible, I do particularly wish they developed some menu items that felt more like that ‘local, seasonal, organic, etc’ feel to it; maybe incorporated seasonal produce a BIT more, or at least do more with that salmon dish than just Fish+Asparagus/Green Bean+Starch. If done successfully, I think their impressions on the customer base could become even stronger and quite distinctive.

Tally: 37/50

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Final Thoughts

Definitively set in the tier of trucks most ideal for those looking to have something a bit more substantial in their main lunchtime meal item, though not on the really heavy end; though I rarely care for getting fries myself, I would much prefer the option of having THOSE with the sandwiches as opposed to just getting a small bag of empty-calorie chips. I’d actually say the main highlight, to my own surprise, are the Bowls, especially the Thai Chicken which I hear is the bomb. That and the Burger; though it’s not my favorite that I’ve had from a truck, it’s a solid ‘grill-house’ sorta-guilty-pleasure kinda option.

I’m sure the Salmon Tacos will appeal highly to some people; they don’t fully ‘hit’ me but I won’t knock them, just my own personal oddness. Still I don’t see ANY reason to get the OTHER Salmon ‘option’… not until it’s worked on further. Finally, of course I am aware that the ‘extra fattiness’ of the Pulled Pork was probably more of an inopportune mistake on my particular order, and not something which consistently happens, but still I don’t think I’d want to have any pig-related menu items unless they’ve been officially improved with more sauce and/or other toppings.

Eastlake Craft and Taco Cat Quasi Review

tchttp://www.tacocatmn.com/
https://twitter.com/tacocats

Sad to say, the past winter, in combination with the full-time job I’ve acquisitioned into, has bulldozed my daily schedules and habits to one which has fully kept me from my beloved food truck explorations for the longest of times. I worry that I won’t be able to make it out to try some of the new entrepreneurs, let alone catch up with ones I still have yet to reach after last year’s premier.

But this spring feels so revitalizing! Just recently finishing up a month-long vegetarian diet project (which I’m now regretting not featuring in my Other Blog), getting used to the new hours, my wallet not feeling as dry and stingy as before, and with the weather taking a noted turn for the better, that flexible sense of adventure and exploration finally re-set itself in my soul and fingers. Restrictions no longer seem to cling to me anymore, leaving my wandering tastes excited for the new possibilities as I make my plans to get back into the food scene of my much loved Twin Cities.

20150315_163237And with my first full day off of work after this amazing weather hit, I just had to go to a taproom, so I headed down to the Midtown Global Market to visit the newly-opened Eastlake Craft Brewery, a fun venture started 3 months ago that focuses on some Belgian, IPA, and unique styles, including a fully Vietnamese-flavored and styled beer called “Eye of the Tiger.” Besides beer, the place offers Dean’s Kombucha on tap, tasty on its own but even better when utilized in a “One Two Punch,” whereas they’ll do a half-and-half mix of your chosen beer and flavored kombucha (I tried the Tiger with some Blackberry, subtly spicy sassy sour super sipper, num). But that’s a review for another time, which I’ll probably hand over to Eat.Drink.Dish, what we really need to talk about is the food!

20150315_155139The reason I chose Eastlake, in the center of uptown as it is, was to finally achieve an experience I, and many other Minnesotans, have been telling myself I’d do for over a year without actually making a proper attempt: Taco Cat delivery. Yes, those gurus of the stuffed tortilla that started in the southern area of Minneapolis, solely relying on a bike delivery services and sarcasm. Despite being based out of a kitchen in the Global Market, TC still has no ‘proper’ pickup, requiring you to stand outside of the building to then have your tacos delivered by bike. Despite the simple requirement of having to be anywhere in uptown, the cliché of everyone talking and raving about Taco Cat without having actually tried it yet has still stood strong in our cities (well, at least I’m no longer part of those statistics).

I wanted to take a picture for the feature, but my guy wasn’t wearing his jersey today (the bearded bastard!!), and I couldn’t find any good ones online of their delivery guys wearing anything besides winter coats, so here’s a picture of a cat in a taco costume!

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D’awwwwww

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It certainly is yet another great taproom food, the guys offering a few basic and unique topping-laden tacos, along with options for Nachos and Burritos filled with choice meats. Going for two items today, I chose the Ruckus, a mint-chimichuri and pickled radish-topped steak, and the Outlaw, slow-cooked pork with kimchi and typical salsas. Each order comes with Three decent-sized tacos, great for sharing or just stuffing your face (and, of course I checked, no we cannot do mix-and-match orders… thus why I ended up having to buy 6 tacos just to try two menu items… at least my next home lunches aren’t gonna suck). Of which, both of these certainly displayed how Taco Cat has gotten its reputation for scrumptious street food.

Two quality, soft layered masa tortillas stuffed with juicy, tender meat, I mean come on. The pulled pork was easily one of the best, juiciest that I’ve had in the street food game so far, and a great base to build a taco with. Steak was nice and typical of most but, on the other hand, when I hear grilled steak, I want something… more. Give me some crust, texture, something more than cooked beef cubes (they’re good cooked beef cubes mind you). But my mouth was overall quite happy with what I put in it.

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Oh, and can’t forget the salsas! A green salsa verde with the steak, a chipotle-based number for the pork, both of them so devilishly good… especially the latter, so smoky and rich and indulgent, I just want to slather it all over the pork and just stick with that.

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They may not be an actual food truck, thus my choice to delegate them to the Quasi-review circuit, but they’re fully delved into the core of street food in our cities, and I’ve been wanting to try them anyway, so there.

                 Food: 8 – What I’ve already mentioned, I also found that the fun toppings I was so excited for, such as the kimchi and mint chimichurri, barely came out. When having it plain (no salsa), I was able to get a subtle mint on the steak, but that was the biggest personality inclusion. I really wish they stood out with a ‘POW’ like they should. Can assume similar meat and flavor qualities across options.

20150315_151142              Holdability: 8 – Tightly bundled tacos, easily transportable in their aluminum wrap (and doggy delivery bag)

Price: 5 – Certainly higher than typical taco trucks, even for the simpler offerings, and forcing us to buy 3 of the same at a time keeps bills higher, especially when sampling multiple items.

Speed: 4 – Great for bike delivery I’m sure, but even when ordering outside the kitchen makes a 10-minute wait. So, compared to food trucks, not the best.

Toe: 10 – What? I like the name… and it’s funny reading their website’s Q&A section

I don’t remember if I usually have a ‘final suggestion’ section in these Quasis anymore, but I certainly wanna say that, if you ever have the chance to hang in uptown and place an order, do this: Order as a Group, so you can try a few different meats, split the costs, and have a smorgasbord of fun to try. Don’t go for the ‘special’ tacos with the different toppings; instead, just get the plain (pork or chicken ideal) and smother in those amazing salsas… I mean seriously. I bet the nachos and burritos are pretty gangsta too (yes I just said that); and safe to say, these are best enjoyed at breweries, coffee shops, or other fun outdoorsy sit-downs in uptown.

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Well, that’s about it for now, I’m gearing up for some more brewery visits and other upcoming fun! Enjoy this amazing season all of you (unless for some reason you’re reading this in winter… in that case, so sorry… maybe build a snowman and watch Frozen?)!

Red River Kitchen

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https://twitter.com/RedRiverKitchen

Main Location: Breweries, Markets, Etc

            Have you ever been in that situation where you visit a restaurant, maybe one that had recently opened, been totally not impressed by the food for very obvious reasons, and then half a year or so later you see these articles or posts from people saying how great and fantastic it is? Did they improve their food? Have we ordered the wrong menu items at the time? Are they talking about a different location that’s better than the one you went too? Is everybody else taste-deaf? Or am I just too cynical an @$$hole in this particular occasion to give proper credit?

            That was my experience with Republic, a new bar which popped into the Cedar and Riverside intersection (also known as 7 Corners) during my last year of College Student Housing, replacing one of the main corner bars that sadly couldn’t last. The beer selection is great, but my food experience was quite… bleh. It’s left me quite confused after the more recent accolades.

            So when I found the excuse spend money on and try them again through the introduction of their new “Menu Testing” based Food Truck, Red River Kitchen, I jumped at it eagerly, heading out as soon as they parked at one of the breweries near me. They aren’t ever really out on “the streets,” mostly sticking to specific farmer’s Markets and Breweries; Excelsior seems to be a favorite, along with many other ones not-that-close to the Twin Cities.

            Using the mobile eatery as a way to round out and experiment with possible new restaurant foods, options change quite frequently, so it can be tricky to narrow down what one should expect going in. I think I CAN safely say, though, that one will very likely find at least one burger and/or Sandwich on the menu; a simple Bacon Cheeseburger seems to be a standby for customers not interested in experimenting. Another standby, likely to satisfy those brewery go-ers craving a fatty, salty food snack, is the restaurant’s classic Cheese Curds.

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            Other items on my visit were Barbacoa Tacos, Handmade Jerk Chicken Sausage, and a Quinoa-Mushroom Burger(pictured). Their own versions of typical Modern Day Bar Food, at least those better suited to the Food Truck Menu concept, is ultimately what one will find. Now if only they had their famous beer tap attached on the side.

Food: 8.5

             It was hard to choose between the Tacos and Chicken Sausage Sandwich (the burgers, though probably good, didn’t look THAT special to me), but after a bit I settled on seeing how well they got the Barbacoa, supplemented with some Cheese Curds, which seemed to be quite the popular item that day. Can’t imagine why, they were practically awful.

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            Well, I guess that’s a little harsh. To have their own little “personality,” I guess, River swayed from the classic batter for a drier dredge before frying, possibly cornmeal based. They were actually pretty good for a couple minutes after receiving it, still hot from the frier; a little gooey, an ‘interesting’ crust, and that “Yum Yum” sauce (from what I can tell, a simple aioli of lemon, cayenne, and possibly other simple spices) was quite good with it. After those two minutes though, as soon as it cools down… just rubbery, chewy, bland starch-coated cheese that makes you put effort into eating the rest of it, even with the delicious mayo.

           Which is a shame, because that Taco was damn good. The meat was tender, juicy, and tasted like the grill from which they were cooked on (in a good way), carrying that slightly smoky characteristic that good Barbacoa demands. The white corn (I do believe it’s masa, but it’s hard to tell with only the one wrap and all the food on top) tortilla is lightly grilled to amplify this experience, and filled to the brim with meat and typical accompaniments, which are quite poignant on their own, lending a strong flavor to the whole taco. I loved it, for the sole reason that everything tasted exactly like how you expect a proper Barbacoa Taco should, with every flavor present.

            I would like to say, if I was basing this solely on the execution of the Taco, I would gladly have scored Red River a whopping 9.5-10 points easy. But taking other dishes into account, not to mention the variable factors with changing dishes, lowering it somewhat seems the more prudent choice.

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Holdability: 6.5

             Outside getting a sole basket of Curds or Fries, every food item (on their own, not counting container) is a pure two-handed affair, with wide burgers and tacos which, though conveniently wrapped, made quite the little mess while eating (they are quite stuffed with toppings, very delicious but not condescend to portability, especially since they didn’t provide any napkins). A shame they didn’t sell them with the proper double-tortilla wrapping to sop up the fallen garnishes and juice.

Price: 6.5

              Restaurant-influenced pricing is pretty obvious, with $8 and $9 for all mains despite their simplicity. Not as crazy and psycho pricing as certain other places I’ve been, but there’s not as much range and variation either outside the $4-5 Fried Sides.

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Speed: 7

              Well, I had just enough of a wait time to head back in the brewery, stand behind two people taking their sweet ass time just to order a glass of beer, and head out just as they were calling my name. It can feel slow if there are multiple orders in front of you, but it’s not a bad speed if you consider the individual orders.

The TOE: 6

             They feel solid, with a bar-like sense of “place” that I’m sure those familiar with Republic could probably work out even better, with a nice design and set theme. Not to mention a bit of fun in the understanding that there should be often menu changing, all of it being part of the Testing period to see what may make the old restaurant menu. I never did feel much of an “impact” when I was there though, overall the place doesn’t seem to want to stand out in my mind, not much that makes me want to drag myself back.

                      Tally: 34.5/50

                       

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Final Thoughts

            Though my overall opinion of Republic’s kitchen offerings has certainly improved compared to my first visit, I can’t see their mobile operation as being a particular favorite of mine on the streets. At a Brewery and Event, however, with choice seating and a predication to not mind spending an extra couple bucks on my meal, I’d have little problem popping in for a choice edible. Due to the supposed ever-changing offerings, suggestions towards what this should be end up difficult.

            What I can probably say is, first off, if one desires Curds of Fried Cheese, their best bet would be to get it “as a group” so that it’s all eaten quickly while still hot and delicious. Otherwise, don’t bother. Similarly, if one is looking for a quality burger, I would strongly bet there are much better options on other trucks; I’m sure they’re still good here, but the quality of other Trucks like Melch’s and Neato’s should easily trump what I’ve seen so far (though I will go on record saying that I could easily be wrong, I do have yet to actually try one, but appearances CAN convey a lot if you know what to look for).

            Thus, one’s best finds are likely to be any newer items, look for things that are “Homemade” or, at the end of the day, just sound really good on the menu. It sounds lazy to say it like that, but those Tacos sounded like the most appetizing thing on there that day, and they definitely did NOT disappoint. Maybe it’d be good to say that anything “Grilled” will go best for your nearest beer source?

Undead Frank’s Zombie Bites

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https://www.facebook.com/undeadfrankszombiebites

https://twitter.com/UndeadFranks

Main Location: Minneapolis, Etc

            You know, it’s been bad enough as-is every time I’ve had to tell someone that I have yet to actually go to Psycho Suzi’s. The shame and embarrassment of not being able to experience another one of the practically staple Minneapolis businesses to visit. Yes yes I know, it’s right in Nordeast, what’s wrong with me, they’re funky and already have another bar under their name, etc. I guess lack of money keeps one from the best night activities.

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            And now I feel even worse. Cuz if I HAD started going to Suzie’s or their brother bar Donny Dirk’s, I probably wouldn’t have had to wait until April to find out about the Food Truck they started up. Donny Dirk’s is, after all, Undead Frank’s Zombie Bites’favorite nightly stop, usually hanging outside every Thursday-Saturday. Since the bar doesn’t seem to serve food, it’s quite the perfect arrangement (maybe Marvel should get their own food truck… now wait, they have snacks now. Darn); it’s definitely a fun experience to get one of their undead crafted cocktails with the forbidden edibles. Their themes do match after all.

            Along with a few interesting street food items (may I present 3 different kinds of “Meltie?” Chicken, Beef, and ‘Fundido,’ aka just cheese and veggies), Undead Frank’s mainly serves up various Bar Snack typebaskets. Mostly filled with their own truck-unique items; such as the Zombie Bites, “Undead” Fries and (handmade) Chips served with Cheese, Jalapeno Coleslaw, and a hot dog aptly named Frank’s Furter; they also bring back a much missed Psycho Suzi’s classic in their Minne-Mex Rolls. These babies disappeared from the restaurant menu some time ago to the chagrin of many regulars, so the Truck decided to bring them back. Round it off with a Cactus Pear Lemonadeand we have ourselves a fun addition to the quirky little Undead restaurant family.

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            Accompanying the food, Frank’s truck is completely bedecked in a sickly zombie green, the blood of its recent ingredi… I mean, survivors, splattered here and there. Doctor Chefs are studded out in long grey labcoats, hopefully a sign they’re working on a cure between taking orders… either that or fine tuning a new chainsaw.

            My first foray with Frank’s took my straight to Donny Dirk’s about only 3 days after I found out about the truck. I say “first” because, sadly, the menu at the time did not include that one, single item which I truly needed to have; ‘dem Zombie Bites. Not that it was a total loss, due to this I was able to try a few items, enjoy them with a friend and a cocktail (the Executioner: an apple-y, spicy whisky and egg emulsion, very delicious with the food), and come back again to get even more at the Art-a-Whirl (got some fun Tiki pics while there, as you can see).

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            Starting out solely around the various restaurants and certain events, once Frank gets their own portable generator (which I suspect to have happened by the time this is posted), they plan on widening their reach throughout Minneapolis. So don’t be surprised to see them at more breweries, games, events, or just random places on the street. You know how those zombies are, they get around and show up everywhere…

Food: 8.5

             Quite a few things I’ve sampled here, let’s see if I can make this quick (for once).

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             A great street food item is the Meltie; basically a burrito placed in a panini-like-press, a tight wrapping and crispy exterior enfold a tasty, “melty” filling. The filling was good, tasty, but there wasn’t anything too exciting about it; I was really looking forward to the “beer cooked chicken,” but none of that flavor actually came through. Still juicy and well cooked, it’s a well-made standard tortilla-based munchy.

            I can see why people were upset at Suzi’s demise of the Mex-Rolls; crispy-crunchy but sorta soft fried dough, a lightly spicy, gooey cheese and black bean filling. It certainly fit with the odd bar food theme. And they look like fingers.

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            Buying just a side of coleslaw just feels odd to me, especially from a food truck (though it does at least fit my annoyed thoughts of people automatically adding sides to a mobile food and making it require a basket), but I can certainly say the Jalapeno Slawis about worth it. Its presence solves a conundrum I’ve been having for a while; what exactly makes a good quality creamy/mayo-based slaw? You can salt and drain the cabbage to absorb more, but then they get soft… or do you leave it fresh, but sometimes they affect the cream. Of which, what’s the consistency like? However it is, Frank has nailed it; crunchy cabbage, though there’s a liquid that settles into the bottom it’s not disgusting, the flavors are delicious with a good jalapeno-ness, and there’s still a nice creamy substance sticking to the outside. Maybe not the best description, but it tastes damn good; probably the best non-asian-style Coleslaw I’ve had (sorry for not keeping this one short).

             Finally, my second visit allowed me to grab those Zombie Bites. I had wondered what exactly they were like… my thoughts filled with the description of a deep-fried bundle of mozzarella, tomato sauce and pepperoni… figured it’d be like a mozzarella stick but in ball form, and with other stuff. Then I got it…

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             Do you see!? Do you see it!? It’s a Pizza Roll!!They make their own pizza rolls! And it’s got the same thin, stretched-dough-crispy crust that’s absorbed the cheese and pepperoni fat, and the almost-homogenous red filling. But it’s bigger, not as messy, sorta like an empanada version of it. I just loved it, total Nostalgia kick that I still enjoy; it’s definitely official, Undead Frank’s Zombie Bites have reached Toe Ringmaterial.

Holdability: 9

              Most items revolve around basket-based snack fair, all of which are pretty non-messy and easy to eat with the hands. The Jalapeno Slaw is quite the oddity, being served in both a cup and basket; though I guess if one’s getting it for a side with other food anyways they already eliminate the ability to hold something in one hand anyways. I am a bit saddened that the Melties are automatically cut in half; otherwise they could have made ideal one-hand-only street item. Though they are still easy to pick up from the basket and go… could probably still do it with one hand, they’re pretty thin, sorta smush them side-by-side.

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Price: 9

               $7-$8for different Melties and Main Items (like the Hot Dog), with $4-$5 for Side and Snack-based things. Overall it’s a pretty good range, multiple items which hit the mark, though it feels like a stretch for others. $5-6(it changes apparently) for “Undead Fries” or Chips, which are basically a basket with their cheese sauce, seems a bit much for a Food Truck offering, and the Hot Dog didn’t look big enough to justify $7 despite the toppings. Everything else seems about right though.

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Speed: 7.5

               About average waits for items.

The TOE: 10

               It is a ZOMBIE FOOD TRUCK! The food may not make you think of it so much (unless you look at it a certain way, though one could apply that to a lot of things), but the experience of going there is nonetheless absolute. Especially when enjoying them at Donny Dirk’s. Just what one could expect by the relative business of both Donny’s and Psycho Suzie’s; if there’s one thing they’re good at, it’s creating an “Environment.” Even got the window chefs dressed up in lab coats… simple, dank gray lab coats, but lab coats nonetheless (I wanted white with blood spatters! Whyyyyy!???). Oh, and don’t forget the Toe Ring.

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              There are likely some small aspects, of the overall package, I could knock them for, but I feel everything else just launches them far enough over these indescrepencies that I don’t care. Hell, if I had higher tiers of scoring for this then Frank’s would be one of the guys up there.

                       Tally: 44/50

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Final Thoughts

            I really think the best experience here, much like Motley Crews and the breweries, is to head down to Donnie Dirk’s, grab a basket of your favorite thing to snack on at the bar, and enjoy with one of their fun cocktails. Zombie Bitesare obviously at the top of my list, many other are obsessed with the Mex-Rollsso I think they’re as much a viable suggestion here.

            That doesn’t mean they aren’t a great option on the street. Though I haven’t had it yet, the Cactus Pear Lemonadeis near the top of my list for Food Truck Drink Options (it’s actually unique… hopefully it won’t go the way of the overused Hibiscus trend). Plus the Meltiesare strong, stable street food carry items with a unique package (compared to other options we have so far). They’re all good, but I feel like the Beefwould be my favorite.

Stanley’s on Wheels (Quasi-Review)

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http://www.stanleysonwheels.com/

https://twitter.com/stanleyswheels

           Most people know of Stanley’sBar, if not having been there already; it’s a cornerstone of the NE University/Lowry area. Mid-2012, they made the decision to join the new street food craze, launching their catering truck onto the streets of Downtown Minneapolis. Of late, I haven’t seen them too much on the street, outside of certain events (then again I’m not able to get “on the street” as often as I’d like, and not everywhere I want); but I hear that they’ve been participating in a wave of Catering gigs, likely due to the bar’s name/popularity, and have been very successful in this venture.

            Which is good, because chances are if they had to depend solely on trying to survive on the streets and breweries next to our other Trucks, I doubt they would have lasted to this Summer. My original visit to this mobile eatery was a couple years ago, and I’ve been putting off writing the review for them for quite a while; though even after starting my Quasi-review habit, I at least wanted to go back once more to give them a fully updated chance to change my first opinion. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

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            Originally consisting of a bar menu (and pictures of the food) with options that one could expect to find at any sports stadium booth, Stanley’s initial focus revolved around multi-colored Nachos covered in Cheese sauce and, now, pulled pork, BBQ sandwiches made of said meat, Pretzel sticks paired with a shot of that cheese sauce to dunk in, and at one point a “Reuben.” My first visit had me ordering this, which they served by taking a big ice cream scoop of cooked corned beef and sauerkraut mixed together and plopping it on a simple bun, squirting their version of thousand island on top. Overall it was somewhat satisfying, not bad, but it felt quite lazy as far as proper Reuben’s go. Though I haven’t seen much evidence of them still selling it though, so I guess the fine details of that particular item don’t matter.

             Nowadays they’ve kept the Beef Brisket, uncorned, and use it and the Pulled Pork as fillings for Tacos, Sliders, and Sandwiches in conjunction with the other items I’ve mentioned. Unhappily I wasn’t able to get a picture of their updated Menu on my second visit, which was during their Bacon and Beer festival at the 2014 Art-a-Whirl. The event had them keeping a very simple menu of Nachos or ultra-simple Sliders of either filling, $2.50 each. I got one of each Brisket and Pork, and they both tasted about the same: overall pretty tasteless, with a generic and thin BBQ sauce flavor, not that exciting. At least they weren’t dry.

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              Too bad they didn’t at least have the regular sliders, which they apparently top with an “asian slaw,” and use a chili-soy-sesame sauce for. Those might not be bad options. But, with that meat, the Tacos look even less promising than what I’ve had so far; they’re apparently filled with some of the most boring and cliché ingredients, mainly lettuce, pico de gallo (salsa), cheese, sour cream, and/or cilantro depending on which taco it is. For the vegetarians, they have a Wrapof Red Peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, and Hummus. And as dessert, they celebrate in their “Rock Slide Brownie;” which they make sound so perky and hopeful on the sight but is basically just a brownie with caramel, topped with more brownie and caramel (and nuts, don’t forget nuts). Doesn’t it all just sound so exciting? No? Yeah I didn’t think so either.

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                Food:4 – The food options aren’t impressive, the food barely looks impressive (though I’ll admit the nachos and brownie don’t look half bad for what they are), and the food doesn’t taste that impressive. Not “bad” but… in the overall light of other street food options, meh.

                Holdability:6 – Basket of messy nachos, saucy pulled meat sandwiches, they’re not bad but they’re not great for it either.

                Price:7 – $7seems to be the set price for most main items, with $2for the brownie (not sure about their Pretzel “Sticks” with cheese sauce, I hope it’s barely anything more). Though the prices themselves are decent, as obviously expressed there’s not much

                Speed:9 – At the very least, most items are so simple in “plating” that it barely takes any time to pile them all together

                Toe: 3 – I just barely get anything from them, obviously (though that could be just me)

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                The sad part is, looking over their website and menu pictures and descriptions, it all doesn’t look quite that bad, at least based on the pictures alone. God, I hope the translated flavors aren’t the same quality as what’s served in the actual bar.

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B-52 Slider Squad

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https://www.facebook.com/B52SliderSquad   

https://twitter.com/SliderSquad   

Main Location: St. Paul

            The Brainchild of B-52 Burgers and Brew, B-52 Slider Squad takes the obvious mainstay and miniaturizes it for the hungry crowds. Premiering along with various truck-patriots such as Hot Indian and Kabomelette, B-52 comes in to help fill out St. Paul’s obvious need for further new truck growth along with Hibachi.

            Offerings are almost entirely composed of, you guessed it, Sliders… or, “Sliders” (I’ll explain later), and of course the traditionally-accompanying Fries. One can get these in the Traditional Cheese Slider, a Bavarian (Onion and Mustard), a Veggie, and the New-to-the-Menu, and likely to make an appearance throughout the season as they mentioned, Pesto Slider. Besides these, one can also order a couple skewers of Corn Fritters.

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            To tell the truth, I don’t have too much more to say about them than this. Maybe I’m not feelin’ the “preachy” vibes tonight, or maybe they’re just that straightforward of an operation, or maybe I drank a bit more than I should have in my other writings, haha. Either way, think I’m gonna just get right into it tonight.

 

Food: 8

            Well I can’t go here without getting a Slider now can I? So I decided to go for their Bavarian. Though they label it, and a few other items, under “Burger” on the menu, all patties served ARE“Sliders.” I put it in quote as, unlike most sliders one sees in Trucks, White Castle, etc, the patties here are all ¼lbs of deliciousness. Oh yeah, that’s a big slider; though I’m sure there are many who would immediately disallow it from using the term. What I know, though, is that despite the amount used, they’re still pressed into that square patty and shoved into that soft, square, oh so nostalgic slider-like bun, only it’s a bit bigger. Ultimately, one still gets what is for all intents and purposes a slider, even if it’s a little bigger than usual; and hey, it still doesn’t reach the size most of us consider for a PROPER burger anyways.

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           Now, onto the actual quality. The Bavarian, shoved between a special Pretzel Slider Bun and topped with a white onion and some good European mustard, comes with some nice sharp flavors and textures. The bun is soft, toasted a bit but still soft in the middle like it should be. And the meat used is of nice quality, but cooked all the way to well-done, which I guess it probably should for a true slider. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t contain much real qualities of the “omg heavenly” one finds in the best grilled meats, though that’s not to say it’s poor in quality, because it isn’t.

            It’s not the greatest Burgers from a Truck out there, but you won’t be disappointed.

            As for the Fries, I’ve been thinking of a good way to describe them, and I can’t help but be stuck on this one idea. Think of what would happen if McDonalds didn’t work in low-quality bulk and made their fries bigger; like, actually restaurant-thick. That’s basically what we have here. It’s got that similar light-crisp outside, the soft inside, but more noticeable starchiness from its size. Oh, then they toss it in some seasoning. It’s pretty darn good.

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            And finally the Fritters, skewered Dango-style for our enjoyment. Bonus points for mixing in the fresh corn, jalapenos, and cilantro, so it’s not just one-note. The outside is crispy, though I’m sort of unsure of the actual filling texture; it’s quite noticeably cornmeal filled, though I think that comes with many of its positive and negative qualities. Eating it, I felt like the flavor reminded me of something… and all I can think of that might be close is cornbread; particularly the sorta-overcooked kind. Though I found the actual fritters weren’t really dry, this does clue you into something very important about them; it is VERY hard to get through eating all 8 of them, even with the palette-exciting flavors mixed in.

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Holdability: 9

            They have a fun way of serving the burger and fries, putting them BOTH in the old-fashioned paper bag, as opposed to the random paper baskets we keep seeing. If done right, one could thus require only one hand to eat the burger with; the same could be said for the Fritter Skewers, as long as you moved them into the paper bag they are served on top of. Of course, would need two hands when going for the fries… unless you tipped the bag up to your mouth (YES!).   

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Price: 9.5

           Some really good price points, with all items in the $5-$8 range, only one item being $8. Though all sliders automatically come with Fries, one can order solo sliders for only $1 off.

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Speed: 9

            Pretty damn speedy, I really didn’t have to wait long for either item… I’m guessing the Fritters are fried and skewered ahead of time then. But the burgers are cooked quick too (maybe they grill them half of the way beforehand, I worked in a restaurant that did that for when someone ordered well-dones).

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The TOE: 9

            FINALLY we have an all-slider Truck in our midst! I’ve been waiting for this day ever since I found out Gastro pussed out and just went to large sandwiches. And they certainly don’t disappoint. It’s a nice menu, a fun trailer design, and the food comes out in that little nostalgic package (and skewers for the fritter), making for an enjoyable experience for those on the grab-n-go.   

                        Tally: 44.5/50

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Final Thoughts

            Definitely one of the highlight Trucks for those looking for cheaper eats on the street, a quick grab, and easier holding while walking. Of course I can’t write a review on this without suggesting a Slider and Fries to order. If one doesn’t want to just do the Traditional, I think the new Pesto may be the Slider I’d lean towards most. I’m not sure how much I would actually suggest the Fritters (they’re interesting), but if you DO want them, then I would require you do one of these two things: either make sure you have 1 or more other people to share it with (again, they’re dense and hard to get through all 8 palette wise), or ask if you can just have one skewer for less.  

            I almost wonder if they should start doing shakes… but then I remember that this is a BAR, not a Diner. We’re just here for rich burgers and fries.

Tot’s New Skewer?

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            Stopped by Darby’s with the folks for dinner, ordered up an app of “Jalapeno and Bacon Wrapped Tator Tots.” For a simple deep-fried potato covered in cheap cheese, it wasn’t too bad. Anyone else thinking maybe Tot Boss should start covering their own skewers in cheese and jalapenos now? Though I’m sure they could figure out a better side than Darby’s Sour Cream-Taco Spice mix (ugh…).

Jake’s Street Grille

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https://twitter.com/JakeStreetTruck   

https://www.facebook.com/JakeStreetTruck?fref=ts    

http://www.jakescitygrille.com/

Main Location: Minneapolis

             After a miniature torrent of new trucks which are trying to start up or sound like they’re from a restaurant, we finally have another mobile operation that’s (gasp!) actually BASED off one! (well, these guys and Falafel King… but that’s really more of a deli chain…)

             Expanding from the Triple-D-made-famous Jake’s City Grille, Jake’s STREET Grille hits the… ummm, street, in flame-covered glory. With multiple locations under their belt already, it seems Jake’s has decided to take their attitude and shove it in the middle of our Food Truck lineup. And so far, one can’t argue that they don’t stand out (at least as far as colors go).

             One of the closest trucks we have to a “gastropub” vibe, Jake’s picks some of their favorite and most Street-worthy items from the varied and bar-based Restaurant Menu; along with a couple new twists of course. Top of the list includes their all-famous Jakewings, and Cajun Tilapia or Lobster/Shrimp Tacos. Following these are some Jake Burgers turned Mini, a popular Chicken Cobb shoved in a big Pita, their favorite Chowder, and a homemade Cookie! I actually got a picture of it!

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              Then one of the employees decided they wanted to pose for me…

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              So yeah…

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              It was a bit of a rainy day the time I actually visited, and luckily for customers they have their very own awning! And not just that miniature tent often used in farmer’s markets. After placing one’s order AWAY from the truck, customers can then take their ticket up to the window to hand in-person, where we can clearly view the highly cramped and crowded kitchen. Half of the space being taken up by the big man Jake himself (or someone else who got their picture taken with Guy Fierri…).

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Food: 9

               I had to of course get the two items named after the restaurant, the Wings and the Mini Burgers! I would have liked to get the Lobster Tacos, but they’re a touch out of my price range. Did get to take a picture of them though:

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               An interesting looking “Taco,” if I have to say so. If anything it sort of reminds me of a Mexican-inspired “Lobster Ravioli” that so many high-end restaurants like having on their menu to use up knuckle and other tasty lobster meat. Considering the quality of the other foods I’ve received, the flavor combinations, and the noted grill marks on the tortillas (flour, but it’s not a traditional taco filling or wrapping anyways, so I’m okay with it), I think we can assume a good level of quality to these.

              Wings were sticky, sweet, tangy, with that nice little “spicy wing” flavor in the background. Grilled to a juicy tenderness, the black skin imparting that nice little smoky flavor to the rest of the sauce. Other than a possibility of a couple wings being too “fatty” (I know, it’s weird to say about wings… but they actually might not have been cooked enough for a little more fat to render like it should), it was a very enjoyable and delicious experience.

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              Sliders are certainly something. A mosaic of sesame over the buns, its inside toasted properly before being filled with the cheese and fried onion-covered meat. Though medium-well, an overall sense of dryness is notably absent, most likely helped by the “JakeSauce” flavoring the burger (can’t actually see or feel it; almost like it was soaked in… so good), which is very BBQ-ish in nature. Onions are nice, crispy and spice-flavored of course. Though I would definitely not compare it to some of our Best Truck Burgers, as a burger-based-slider its flavors stand loaded and high.

              As for the fries: crispy outside, soft in, not SPECTACULAR compared to the street’s best but no negative qualities. Very SOLID and well-made potatoes. Just need to eat them soon after ordering or risk softening. I’m not sure about the Cookie, but it’s handmade and certainly LOOKS delicious…

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Holdability: 8

              Based off a restaurant as it is, most of this stuff isn’t exactly clean. Not necessarily sit-down food, though; with a single basket one easily only need both hands. However, wings are quite the messy, sticky beast; they even come with wetnaps (which I accidentally tossed, agh!), which one could say is quite nice for those wanting a messy meal on the street but still needing to get somewhere. The unique roll on the Tacos are actually quite perfect for the street, with little to no worry of fillings spilling out. Though I find the pile of salsa on top sort of odd and out-of-place for any street-food item (at least the Tomatillo and Guac were in cups…).

              I DEFINITELY want to give special mention and props to their Salad. Still, still, I do not understand those people who go all the way out on the street, to a Food Truck in all its Foodie-based “Eat me with your hands” glory, and order a SALAD of all things… I mean seriously you can get that anywhere. However, Jake’s is the first place that has actually taken their salad and shoved it into something like a pita wrap (and boy did that shove a LOT of it into a BIG pita). Not only has this created an item salad-lovers can eat while walking, but they’ve transformed one of the most boring of items (a Cobb) into something fully indicative and representing of Food Truck items. In fact, I’m somewhat considering it for “Toe Ring” nomination.

                Other items hold themselves in similar levels of two-handed-ness. The chowder itself comes as a nicely-sized paper bowl which THEN put into a cardboard basket.

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Price: 9

             There are a couple higher priced items, but unlike certain other trucks Jake’s has a fantastic VARIATION, offering a great range of different prices so one can find the right fit if needed. Whether this be a $5 Chowder, $12 Lobster Taco (which actually costs LESS than the at-restaurant version, unlike a certain other Lobster-item I know), or everything else in between, all of it seeming pretty right on the money with what they offer.

Speed: 8

             Slightly above average speed, not surprising considering the full kitchen behind the window.

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The TOE: 9

            Though its restaurant ties are clear in their menu, Jake’s attitude and personality shine in the same way as the best Trucks. Their menu may not be united in a singular style or cuisine, but each item shows an excitement and “Signature” to it that others easily miss. Not to mention the fact they’ve actually put some effort in insuring most of their offerings tie well into the Street Scene.

                        Service: +1.5

               I refer to the picture of the employee posing for the cookie. Fact is these guys are fun, energetic, and practically make the visit an experience.

                         Tally: 44.5/50

                       

Final Thoughts

            Probably the best truck so far for those who want that “restaurant experience” without sacrificing the ability to eat while mobile. Also one of the very few places (Moral Omni the other) that I find it not only acceptable, but I SUGGEST one get the Salad – Chicken Cobb in Pita.

            Most items are definitely of great suggestibility. Lobster Taco should be tried for those willing and able to spend the extra few bucks. On the lower-priced end, the Chowder looks amazing, easily in the same league as AZ’s Gumbo. The Wings are great, but only for those who don’t mind the stickiness. Mobility wise, both the Mini Burger and Cajun Tilapia Tacos fit the bill, I probably suggest the taco more; it looks amazing, I really want to go back to get it.

                Which in itself speaks to the quality; there are very few trucks that I have any real urge to go back repeatedly. Vellee and Potters are among the small group, and now Jake’s entered the list.

                 One final note, for those who looking to get a cookie on the street, I would certainly say this is one of the Trucks to grab it from.

A Day of Mixed Experiences

               You know what it is they say about the “Best Laid Plans?” Well, that particular kind of bad-luck situation seems to cross my path quite often; in fact, almost every time I attempt to plan a day with someone else. Heck, I once scheduled a day to take off of school (special 1-time use card privelage thing) a couple months ahead of time, and it just so happened that day ended up being the 1 day after 10 years that we closed due to Snow.

                This of course was no exception yesterday, when me and Paige from Alcohol by Volume finally met for a day of Brewery and Food Truck mingling. So, after driving all the way down to Indeed, I suddenly found out that, not only do they open at 3 as opposed to the Noon time we had planned, but the Food Truck I was looking forward to was scheduled for Saturday, not Friday (darn their confusing Calendar). Called my meeting buddy to re-think, drove to meet at Fulton… which also wasn’t open. SO we just met at a bar Downtown, since she was already walking on Nicollet.

                So, after booking it all the way from Fulton to Nicollet and 10th (I had already found this awesome 10hr Parking Meter, paid 50c for 4 hours, I’m not letting that baby go) I entered “The Local” and went about searching. For those who haven’t been, it was my first time too, they have a fun old-school bar interior, divided right in half by a long, extensive woodwork. The rest of the pub is interspersed with private cubicles, glass dividers, wood stands, and other such patchwork forms of older-styled décor, designed mainly for creating senses of privacy. It’s a really cool and fun thing to walk through… but it sucks when trying to find somebody. I circled twice, and ended up having to sit and have her find me instead.

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                Took about an hour, but finally got the day kicked off. The rest went smooth and simple. Shared some talk over a beer; being quite tired from the run, I needed a creamy Kilkenny, and to our luck we found they held a Harriet, so she went for that. After expressing the interest, the bartender decided to find a growler of their Saison and poured us each a taster.  Really had that characteristic Harriet Fruity-Hoppy complexity on the nose, though my more experienced colleague pointed out its characteristics technically weren’t along what a true “saison” should be. At the very least we agreed it still tasted good.

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                Feeling the need for a change of venue, specifically one that held food, I offered two main ideas, and we headed off towards Marquette. Since, sadly, we only found one Truck still parked, I decided to take her to option #2: Devil’s Advocate. Shockingly this was the first time she had even heard of it, so I thought it’d be a fun experience, even if Food Trucks weren’t involved.

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                A nice, complex and darker Winter Ale for her, and my first glass of Dragon’s Milk Stout, and we went for a simple order of meatball sliders. Pretzel roll double of Beef w/ Red Sauce and a Single Chicken w/ Mushroom; it was my first time trying the fries too, which I definitely give them much applause for in their perfection of soft inside and crispy outside. It was my first time seeing their dessert menu, too, and I definitely suggest your next visit include one of their seemingly simple yet slightly twisted items. The cheesecake we ordered, for instance, was made with Mascarpone instead of the typical Cream; made a bit smoother and not as heavy.

                Talks had no real common thread, ranging from the complex and storied past of Finnegan’s Brewery to the practices of separate city Brewing Clubs (of which I’m thinking I might look into for joining), between Hidden Bars and Donny Darko, and a particularly noted discussion of various food-related TV Shows.

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                The day ended at Fulton, where at least I was able to show off one of our prided Trucks, Little G’s. Inside, I had my first glass of their newer War and Peace stout. Very powerful, punchy in style, you really got the bitterness of the Malts and Hops; a fun little version of one of my favorite malt-bases. To our delight, we also found out about their recent foray into making their own sodas, and we both just had to share a glass of Juniper-Blueberry. Much like all homemade sodas, it was awesome.

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                We ordered an Italian (Sausage, Onion, Pepper), a simple heavy style to fit their thicker, doughier crust. She certainly approved, though sadly was full from our trip to Devil’s to eat more than one small square. Finishing our drinks, we called it a day and went our separate ways.

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                It was certainly a fun get-together, and I enjoyed the chance of being able to share our respective loves and interests in these two growing culinary scenes. Very much looking forward to the next little experience, hopefully I’ll actually be able to show off more than one Truck next time. Until then, we’ll both keep on tasting and trucking for your reading pleasure!

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                Oh, one final note. Since I had another hour on my meter, and was still a bit affected from the drink, decided to stop into the nearby Saffron for a little waiting snack. Sadly, they didn’t have the Lamb Brains available (could have sworn I saw it on one of their Happy Hours at one point, but apparently I was wrong), so I tried a little dish of house-cured beef called “Bastirma.” Rubbed with Turkish spices, one could really get that gentle complexity in the aroma, and the chew was nice with the clean fat and concentrated meat. Certainly a nice, simple appetizer to end the day with.

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