Top 10 Trucks, 2012!

Three seasons done, over 50 different Trucks on the streets, our Food Truck Culture has increased quickly and dramatically to all of our benefit. The Foodie nation within the cities has taken a firm hold of this new practice and started paving an even wider road towards the future.

            For now though, I’d like to celebrate the many Entrepreneurs, both original and new, who have helped boost this movement and fan base in the forward direction it’s been taking. This is the Top Ten List of Minnesota Food Trucks, 2012!*

10th Place: a big surprise for my first list, we have a THREE WAY TIE!!

            At 45 points each, Home Street Home, Rusty Taco, and Cupcake on the Go

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With each of these trucks offering a variety of their choice Menu Items (whether it be Sandwiches, Tacos, or Cupcakes) in a timely manner, they have already cemented themselves into the role of the quality, fundamental “Food Truck.”

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With a special note, offering their product at instantaneous speed and proving their focus to everyday desires, Cupcake on the Go has edged ahead of A Cupcake Social as the best Dessert-only Truck this year!

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9th Place: SCRATCH with 45.5

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            The best toasted sandwich bread in the State encapsulates their rich, often spicy flavors and sharp textures. Home of one of the few, and my second favorite, Toe Rings in the business, the Ginger Rice Crispies. Scratch skyrocketed themselves to a special place in my, and many other people’s, heart the moment I first visited.

6th Place: ANOTHER three way tie! At 46.5:

            Chef Shack, MidNord Empanada, and Tot Boss

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            A perfect example of what one can get with COMPLETELY different establishments. An organic, locally-focused Truck based off of well-made traditional Street Food; a Chef deep-frying Ecuadorian Dough-pockets filled with all variety of stuffings; and a place that only sells baskets of Tator Tots dressed however one wants. THIS is pure proof of what exactly a Food Truck scene can be, and that one doesn’t need to conform to a specific mold, just as long as they do it well.

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5th Place: Eli’s Donut Burger with 47.5

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            Rarely seen but often remembered, Eli’s offers the most guilty of pleasures one can find in any Establishment, Truck or Not. Preparing it all day, the burgers fly quickly at a low price, filling your stomach with the artery-clogging deliciousness of sweet, salty, cheesy, meaty goodness. It’s not the expected everyday combination, but it works more wonders than you can shake a bacon strip at… though that’s mostly because it ends up eaten before getting so far.

3rd Place: 48-point Tie between AZ Canteen and Vellee Deli

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            This just seems right. The two Trucks that I believe really encompass everything the TOE stands for, each offering handheld Street Food with a heaping helping of Soul. Andrew Zimmern did right in his menu and specialty items, creating that unique blend of both local and world street food cuisines. Though used often, the Asian-Mexican Fusion of Vellee offers items that one just can’t help going back for… even if they don’t have the budget for it.

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2nd Place: NateDogs at 49

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            Locally sourced with handmade condiments, Nate gives us the pinnacle of what a simple Hot Dog Cart can be. Hitting every single point of the rating system, it is no wonder that he has launched himself all the way to #2 in this countdown. I cannot wait to go back.

     And finally, the tippy-top pinnacle of the Trucks to appear so far!

(Highly-Annoying, Exaggerated, and Drawn-Out Drumroll)

POTTER’S PASTIES at First Place! With a score of 50.5!

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            The ONLY Truck so far to reach and go past the Maximum 50 points, Potter’s has it all. Good Prices, Instantaneous Speed, Easy-Holding and Eating, Fantastic Service, and Good Comfort Food that holds itself in its unique niche. It’s no wonder they built two trucks for twin city offerings. This is and always has been a Must Go for anybody who loves food (and that’s not a small group now is it?).

            This has proven to be a great starting season for our new Culture. I can confidently say that I am very happy and proud at what our Trucks have been able to achieve and come up with, and I cannot wait to see how this Top Ten Looks come the end of Summer.

            Until then, I shall dutifully enjoy my food as always.

*Note: all lists, both now and future, are purely based off the cumulative score garnered in my Ratings System. It is not based off of only one aspect at a time, though if there is interest in that I can always form a Top Ten based purely from “Best Food,” “Speed,” or others.

Marie Antoinette Crepes

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Antoinette-Crepes/165457686860205

https://twitter.com/thatcrepetruck

Main Location: Markets, Events, Etc

            Offering options along both the Savory and Sweet lines, Marie Antoinette’s has become a staple among many as an early morning Crepe stop. Crepe fillings are simple, with sweets pairing sliced fruit alongside chocolate-caramel-peanut butter sauces; nutella of course. Savory stay along the traditional lines of Ham n Cheese, Tomato-Basil, etc. Every once in a while there’s an interesting addition, such as Feta with the Tomatoes, or an herb-flavored sweet crepe.

            Folded into a large triangle and served in a paper basket with a fork, one can sit on an open curb and dig in (it’s what I did).

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Food: 4

           The crepe itself isn’t too bad; a little eggier than the proper traditional, but it’s got a decent fluff to it and gives with the fork. Works well on either side of the Savory-sweet line.

           Fillings are unimaginative and given little real effort in preparation and cooking. Chocolate and other dessert sauces taste pre-made and from a bottle… then again that’s cuz most of them are. Other ingredients are simple, without offering any real extra qualities. This leaves combinations that are simply average in flavor and textures.

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           Of course, one can never really complain when it comes to Nutella.

Holdability: 5.5

          Though easy to carry and walk around with, picking the crepe up with a hand is quite difficult to do easily. This due to heat, limpness, and the habit of fillings trying to fall out. As one is also only given a plastic fork that gives trouble in attempting to use when standing, this traditional French Street Food is best eaten while sitting. Quite the disappointment from the usual standards.

Price: 7

           Costs are okay, but with the quality of the food supporting it I don’t feel like it’s that much of a “deal.”

Speed: 8

           Crepe’s are a really fun street item in that, despite cooking from scratch, they don’t take that long to make. Plus, it’s always a fun show to watch them get spread, cooked and folded.

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The TOE: 7.5

          Despite certain lacks in quality and effort, crepe stands emit that wonderful warm, homey feeling of that special visit to the French Storefront. The sight of the person standing behind the counter, swirling the batter around the hot stone, offering the unique smells and experience that only a creperie can create. I only wish that their ingredients could match the expectations of this long French tradition

                        Tally: 32/50

Final Thoughts

            Still a fun experience, and if you’re at a Farmer’s Market where they happen to be, it wouldn’t be too bad of a stop for lunch or a snack.

            Avoid the simpler items, the only one of any worth being Nutella (if you haven’t had a Nutella crepe, it’s like the French Chocolate Chip Cookie). Anything with special ingredients, in particular the Tomato-Feta could be worth a grab.

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Foxy Falafel

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foxyfalafel.com/

https://twitter.com/FoxyFalafel

 

 Main Location: Minneapolis, Markets, Etc

            Located at a variety of set scheduled locations during the warmer seasons, Foxy Falafel has quickly become one of the cities’ favorite stands. Quickly evident as Citypage recently named them the best Falafel in MN

            A student of holistic health and lover of falafels (street foods too), Erica Strait sprouts her own chickpeas for the middle-eastern delight (currently I am doubting it is used for every single falafel, especially after the restaurant opened, but still). These little balls of ground chickpeas and spices are then fried crispy and place in a hollowed out half-pita, ready to be topped with her homemade sauces and pickles.

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            Besides the regular falafel, they also serve up ones flavored with Curry and Beets; though they aren’t always in rotation. I didn’t see them the day I was finally able to make the trip. Hummus and pita chips are served as-is or as a combo platter with the falafel, not surprisingly.

            The ingredients are fresh, the food is spicy and flavorful, and the textures are that fun blend between crisp and fluffy. Foxy Falafel is a sure can’t-miss team in the world of street food.

Food: 8.5

            They use good pita bread, which is then filled with exactly the sort of thing one wants for a falafel. On the front of the truck are three different sauces paired alongside a few seasonal pickles. I suggest you dab a little sauce on a finger and try it out to determine which one you want. Oh, and just put every single pickle you can find on there; which are always sooooo good no matter what food truck does them.

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            I haven’t had the beet or curry, but the beet falafels have such a deep, inviting color to them; I can’t imagine that they’re screwing them up.

           My one concern is that, for whatever reason, when I got mine they sort of “shoved” the falafels, smushing them together into mostly one form. It really deserved the name “Falafel Burger” that was written on the blackboard. It still tasted fantastic, but ended up taking away a decent amount of that great crispiness factor that a good falafel is known for, which there already wasn’t much of anyway (despite taking so long to fry for some reason).

Holdability: 8.5

           An iconic street food, falafels in pita bread has great transportative capabilities. With the pita’s width and the sauces, not to mention the paper lining which covers it almost entirely, you’ll probably wind up needing both hands for some of it. However, still an easy and enjoyable experience it is.

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Price: 8.5

           $7 is the price for each of their falafels, hummus and pita are less, and the combo of course comes at more. All in all, a pretty good deal for such a quality product.

Speed: 5

            I actually find myself very perplexed at this score myself. For whatever reason,  the day I visited, despite being the only one in line, it took quite a while to make my very simple falafel. I would expect, with how many they have to make, that it wouldn’t really need that long to fry (if they form it in balls to order, that experience in doing it quickly is assumed). My guess is that it was a random thing, however my score must still be affected by it; especially since after all that wait my falafels had barely any real crispiness to them.

             If you find most of your experiences are much different than mine, please inform me and I will gladly change this rating.

The TOE: 9.5

            Not only is Foxy Falafel selling a ubiquitous street food that no other truck has even touched, they are doing it WELL. The simple act of having such a large, colorful and well known falafel stand, offering up different flavors, embodies many core attributes of what makes many successful and loved Food Trucks. Proof of this simple fact is shown in their ability and NEED to open up a restaurant based on the same foods, getting the culture following to fill it up.

            Foxy Falafel is another true pinnacle in MN’s Food Truck scene. It stands alongside so many others as an example of what great people can do.

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                        Tally: 40/50

Final Thoughts

            If they’re nearby, it is absolutely worth the trip to drive down in the summer, order a falafel and snack on its deliciousness while enjoying the open market sun. Definitely try the Beet or Curry versions if they have them. I’m not much of a pita and hummus person when it comes to restaurants. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, the combo platter is a good COMPLETE meal.

            Ignore the lemon-basil water unless it’s really hot and you need/want a drink with your food. It is probably quite tasty, but otherwise I don’t see a need to actually order it.

Gai Gai Thai

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www.facebook.com/gaigaithai

https://twitter.com/gaigaithai

Main Location: Markets, Etc

            I should say this flat out and get it out of the way; as far as I know, Gai Gai Thai doesn’t have a food truck. Normally, that qualification alone would make me completely disregard any notion of writing a review on them for my blog. However, reading through their page, visiting them, I have such respect and pride for what it is they do, that I just can’t bring myself to not share them with those who don’t yet know.

            GGT is, as one would imagine, a Thai and Asian-flavor based Market Stand that focuses on using local farm produce in their dishes. Their menu items change very often, depending on what’s available, and most likely, their mood, which makes it very fun to come back to. Dishes themselves don’t even present themselves as street food; these are things that one would usually expect to find in a restaurant setting. Bowls, rice dishes, salad with fried polenta sticks, you name it.

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            Breakfast/Brunch items seem to be a favorite for them, going along with the Asian coffee they crank out. The one time I visited, I had a simple dish of rice, egg, and hot sauce in the morning… I’ll let you know about it in the ratings.

            I’m hoping that more people get a chance to try them, because they do such a wonderful job with the small, comforting home-like dishes that they create.

Food: 9

           As I mentioned, the food here is like something one might find in a restaurant, and the flavor is the same indication. The dish of  rice and eggs I got at the time only comprised three ingredients (plus seasoning), yet I couldn’t get enough of it. It was so good; if anyone has ever had that PERFECT, properly done fried rice, you know what I’m talking about.

           I’ve only had that single item, and their menu comprises a variety of much different things, so I can’t fully score them. But if that rice dish is an indication, I don’t think one has to worry about what they order.

Holdability: 4

           Again, restaurant food, not street food. These are bowls, noodle dishes, salads, etc. They are made in a way where it is not difficult to eat them even while walking, but points are still going to be shaved off.

Price: 6

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            Reflecting the local produce, these are higher priced menu items; even my simple rice and eggs wasn’t that friendly on me. But it’s good, and most definitely worth it if you have the cash.

Speed: 6

            It takes a while longer to prepare food like this. That’s something one can’t get around. I myself had to wait a little longer than usual because the person cooking accidentally goofed up the egg and had to start over. But, at the same time that’s an admiral quality in someone cooking your food; they take the time to make it right. I was so happy for that. I certainly wasn’t impatient at all, and was rewarded.

The TOE: 5

            Again, this isn’t an actual food truck, and as such there are certain little things which are missing because of it. Keeping to local products, however, and that striving to make these very flavorful items filled with their love is still part of that Street Food Culture. It earns a lot of my respect and admiration.

               Tally: 30/50

Final Thoughts

            I’m not sure if this is one I would “seek out” just to get this, because you really would just be getting this. However, if you decide to go to one of the Farmer’s Markets where they happen to be located and are looking for something to eat, certainly stop by and order an item. They make a great breakfast, give good coffee, and are a good local business to support.

            The final score may be lower than a lot others that I post on here, but I still think they are a must-try for when you’re relaxing from chasing Food Trucks.