Keep on Truckin’
Tired of overworked foam-and-froth dining, Americans have helped create a food revolution – with the help of the humble burger van. Here, Jill Starley-Grainger, editor of EcoLuxHotels, heads back to the country of her birth in search of the country’s finest street fare.
It’s become such a phenomenon that there’s even a TV game show about it, The Great Food Truck Race, in which seven trucks go head-to-head in a cross-country race to see whose food is the most popular and profitable. On your next trip Stateside, take to the streets to see how the once-humble food truck has taken pole position as the country’s trendiest eatery. Here are a few of our favourites.
Seabirds — from Orange County, California — were finalists in 2011’s Great Food Truck Race, and bring a welcome dose of femininity to the largely male-dominated food-truck market. Owner Stephanie Morgan and raw-food trained chef Raya Belna serve amazingly tasty vegan fare to the famously fussy OC crowd. The local, seasonal, organic menu changes daily, but since its appearance on Good Morning America!, the Beer Battered Avocado Tacos (two for £4.50) have been a mainstay, frequently joined by Island Jack Tacos (two for £4.50), made with teriyaki-marinated Jackfruit (tastes like tart green bananas) and grilled pineapple, and vegan cupcakes (£2.50). Truck stop: Find out where and when the truck will be serving via www.twitter.com/SeabirdsTruck, Facebook: Seabirds Truck and www.seabirdstruck.com
Skip down Broadway to New York’s Union Square to find the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck — and recapture the joy of childhood with a towering cone of soft serve, dished up from an old-school ice-cream van by jovial couple Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff. But instead of the bland confection of yesteryear, these cones (from £2 for the basic vanilla ice cream, toppings from £1) are smothered in decidedly grown-up sprinkles. Sample a Salty Pimp – dulce de leche, chocolate and sea salt – or choose from a dozen or so wackier options, like toasted curried coconut, wasabi pea dust and pumpkin butter. Truck stop: Open on warm days, late spring to early autumn, usually corner of Broadway and 17th Street; Mon-Fri, 2.30pm to 5.30pm; but check www.twitter.com/biggayicecream for daily schedule. A year-round off-shoot (Big Gay Ice Cream Shop) just opened at 125 East 7th Street.
Tourists flock to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park for its beautiful scenery – and there’s no better place to stay than in the hippy-happy city of Asheville. Before heading out to hike and look for bears in the hills, pick up your picnic lunch from The Lowdown. Choose from a range of creative and classic sandwiches. We like the traditional Southern BBQ sandwich, with smoked pork and Carolina barbecue sauce; the innovative and tangy Vegetarian Banh Mi, with lemongrass tofu and pickled veggies; and for kids, Lowdown’s twist on that American childhood staple, peanut butter and jelly – this one replaces the jelly with banana and nutella. Truck stop: Usually at 425 Broadway; and usually open Mon-Sat, 11am to 3pm. Follow them on www.twitter.com/thelowdowntruck and Facebook: The Lowdown Food Truck.