DINING TRUCKS: Al Fresco at its Best!
Most of us take for granted that New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Boston are well known for having some of our nation's top restaurants. And NYC is often seen as the capitol of the nation's street food scene. Many an East Coaster has enjoyed at least one "dirty water" dog on the street. But a quiet revolution has been unfolding across our great land. The popularity of American Street food - often served from the venerable food truck - has spread like chipotle mayo on a ciabatta bun. And we're not just talking about over-boiled hot dogs or mystery meat chili. Street food has become a highly competitive alternative to expensive restaurants in this tight economy. They also span the globe as far as cuisines, with lots of uniquely American fusions happening. The best part, we all benefit! With a little insight from our friends over at newyorkstreetfood.com, we've taken a look at some of the hottest current trends in Street Food in a few of America's cities. In New York, one expects diversity when it comes to food and the Big Apple does not disappoint. One of the Brooklyn's newest, yet somewhat evasive, trucks is Fun Buns NYC and their Pork belly buns with five spice, sour mustard greens and sugared peanuts. Looking for food that "inspires peace and bliss?" Push past the hot dog and praline vendors and seek The Cinnamon Snail for awesome and creative vegan and organic fare. In Los Angeles, they have their own take on street food. Enter, Buttermilk Truck which features unique breakfast and late night offerings like red velvet chocolate chip pancakes, or Hawaiian bread French toast sticks. Night owls swear by their southern classic, chicken and waffles! And only LA could offer a food truck like Ahn-Joo (Korean for snack) making the best Korean Nachos this side of Seoul. (Think braised pork, kimchi, sesame seeds and scallions over a type of Korean rice cakes.) Like New York, the LA options are virtually endless - including german "currywurst", greek pitas, and gourmet Italian. Many cities have seen the emergence of the cupcake truck. In LA its a truck called Flirty Cupcakes ("We squeal our tires curbside for cupcake lovers") The Windy City serves up plenty of classic Chicago-style hot dogs - complete with peppers, onions, tomato, mustard and relish on a bun - best bets for Chicago dogs include Superdawg, Weiner's Circle and Jimmy's Red Hots. For serious foodies, try the Gaztro-wagon, with such refined offerings as "naan"wiches of Wild Board with fennel, olives, yogurt and shaved red onions, or slow roasted lamb with gyro fixings. You definitely won't go hungry in Chi-town! When heading toward the Rocky Mountains, mile-high Denver offers all the classic burger, dog and taco options on the streets. But you'll also find an Anthony Bourdain favorite, Biker Jim's, offering the city's only gourmet reindeer dog. Another Denver favorite is Tacos Borrachos (Drunken Tacos) with offerings that include a wonderful chipotle-citrus marinated pork with avocado-tomatillo crema. All we can say is 'Ole!'. Heading back East to Boston, look for Lefty's Silver Cart in Cambridge and you enjoy "local, real organic food" like the Granny Be Good... grilled sourdough bread, granny smith apple, sharp cheddar and a side of dark chocolate. Lefty's offers free use of their hula hoop with all grilled orders while a Haiku is $.50 extra. So as you plan your summer road trip, consider eating your way across America without setting a foot into a restaurant. Just look for an interesting food truck and belly up to the window...we think you'll agree, they have come a long way, baby.