Every food truck season, we come undone. The pressure of trying to categorize, chase, social media-stalk, and taste every new (or newish) food truck becomes an exercise in calorie consumption and beating the clock.
And yet, every year we do it. Because the hum of the generator continues to thrill us. Because guys and gals pass us greasy, drippy, spicy stuff through a window so we can inhale it on the street. As long as there is gasoline and fryer grease to fuel our desires, we will chase these four-wheeled kitchens.
Presenting the best new (and newish) food trucks of the moment. Be swift. This an ever-changing scene.
Think of a critter, and New Bohemia has probably considered squeezing it into a casing. If that image is appealing to you, read on. At six storefront locations by the same name, "wurst and bier" (sorry, no bier on the truck) are the chain's specialties.
They claim to have "the best sausage made on earth." Whether or not that claim is true, we tip our hats to the quality of the meats, which they pledge to buy from small farms that don't use hormones. Though just who is farming jackalope, antelope, rattlesnake, or alligator (all sausages available on the truck), we're not sure.
You can keep on the cautious side with beer brats and jalapeño and cheese dogs, or split the adventure-eater difference with a macaroni and cheese-stuffed dog. And of course, pair it with the hand-cut fries, dipped in one (or three) of the various sauces.
Bark and the Bite
Billowing smoke being the universal sign of outdoor eats, Bark and the Bite serves up a changing selection of smoked brisket, Memphis-style baby back ribs, and smoked pulled chicken. They're also doing a forward-thinking smoked jackfruit, a tropical fruit that takes on the uncanny look and mouthfeel of meat when barbecued, and it's vegan.
Choose from three sauces including spicy chile vodka along with some standard sides (beans and slaw) and less standard ones, too (arugula potato salad and honey-spiced hush puppies).
After more than 70(!) years in business, Nicollet Avenue's Market BBQ has rolled out a big, pink food truck this season. Pork ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, a brisket sandwich, and BBQ wings make it a perfect lunchtime plate — so long as there are napkins handy.
Aside from a mini cornbread loaf, the only sides on offer are the fries and little pots of coleslaw. You don't need much more. Meats are tender and lightly smoked, and the sauces trend toward sweet.
Fries are slender and greasy, and coleslaw is creamy, straightforward, and spot-on. The whole of it is $11 for a plate with the meat-slaw-fry triptych.
Now that Pimento Jamaican Kitchen has its Eat Street location, we've got a small but solid local Caribbean food scene (including longtime trailblazers Marla's and Harry Singh's). Xtream Cuisine food truck is now also serving jerk-style chicken, plus curry chicken and goat, as well as grilled tilapia.
The jerk has excellent flavor and char, and is cooked to tender precision, but don't fall victim to the toothless warnings of spice. This is "Minnesota spicy" at its gentlest.
An enormous portion of chicken is just $10 and is easily shareable. (Skip the gloppy rice and beans and soggy coleslaw.) They have no online presence, so you'll just have to watch for them in downtown Minneapolis at lunch hour on weekdays.
The owners of Loud Mouth are hobby farmers who raise their own beef and locally source pork and salmon from family friends. This is farm-to-truck cuisine.
The ethnically eclectic menu feels like a clearinghouse for All the Greatest Food Truck Hits (Thai chicken rice bowls, pork tacos, Cubanos), but curry udon noodles and a light coconut rice bowl are pleasant takes on the genre, if not the categorical best. It's a bold move to put out a Thai rice bowl with World Street Kitchen's famous and gold-standard red curry chicken just a plastic fork's toss away. Still, shredded veggies and herbs are prepared with care, and pickled onions are a piquant and pleasant touch. This is uncomplicated but satisfying.
We give them extra points for often intrepidly parking at the less populated Second Avenue and Seventh Street intersection of downtown rather than the more hopping Second Avenue and Fifth Street stretch, where the owners say "everybody fights for a spot."
Who doesn't want fried chicken from a truck? Look for one of the longest lines and at the front of it you'll find Wyn 65, Lyn 65's Winnebago-style food truck. (Wyn 65, get it?) They serve all the Southern faves: fried chicken with yams, collards, mac and cheese.
Fried chicken by its nature isn't a fast food. The good news is that the wait is a worthy one here. A crisp cornmeal batter crust breaks to reveal the dewy flesh of brined bird within.
Collards are equally delicious, simple and enlivened with hot sauce. Brussels sprouts are done Korean-style, with a sweet-hot, sticky, addictive sauce.
Also consider the "Winnebago Sandwich," fried bologna (the unofficial sandwich trend of the year) with housemade pepper bologna, pimento cheese, tangy mayo, and pickles on a squishy bun.
Whole Sum Kitchen
We don't tend to get overly effusive about smoothies, seed bars, or gluten-free anything. But that was before we tried Whole Sum Kitchen's smoothie bowls and fresh-press juices.
Smoothies like mango and pineapple with gogi berries bring to mind nothing short of a "gimme another" treat. Fresh-pressed juices like pear, celery, mint, and kale are at once unusual, enticing, and virtuous.
Watch also for their brick-and-mortar restaurant coming soon to the 50th and Lyndale neighborhood.
If you are one of the few surviving human beings who still prefers your tacos with flour tortillas, Turbo Taco was made for you.
Specializing in "Baja-style" tacos, they garnish theirs the gringo way with tomatoes, shredded iceberg, and a creamy "Turbo sauce." We recommend the "crab cake popper," stuffed with high-quality crab cakes and Jack cheese.
We also recommend the fried avocado taco, a culinary wonder that few other taquerias are taking full advantage of. Voluptuous fingers of ripe avocado get a light tempura batter and a flash fry. Tucked into the tortilla with pico and cheese, it's a vegetarian pleasure that will have your meat-loving friends getting taco envy.
Just beware, the prices stray pretty far out of typical taco market pricing at $6 to $8 each.
Sushi Fix is arguably the state's best sushi restaurant, located out in tony Wayzata. Their decadent ways with raw fish and Japanese delicacies make it difficult to believe they got their start on a humble food truck. But they did.
That truck got parked indefinitely as they focused on the wild success of the brick-and-mortar restaurant, but now it's back! Kinda.
The comeback is now dubbed Bibuta, offering sushi burritos, bowls, and salads. The labor-intensiveness of sushi made it a less than ideal food truck item, but they've solved that problem by wrapping the fish in more casual "burritos." A colorful soy wrapper envelops sushi rice, which then envelops tuna, salmon, avocado, cuke, cilantro, sweet soy, and mayo. Or skip that and order a bowl, where a bombardment of tuna and fish occupies a raft of rice, garnished with pickled eggplant and cucumber.
If fish isn't your thing, they have similar setups with pork belly, bulgogi, and gyudon (Japanese-style beef). And check out their GF Salad. Here that familiar moniker stands for "Guilt Free," and involves pork belly. (Yeah, it also happens to be gluten-free.)
Other good, but elusive, trucks to watch out for:
Whole Soul, wholesouleatery.com
Wings, seven-cheese mac and cheese, catfish, and other inventive takes on soul food.
Sasquatch Sandwiches, sasquatchsandwiches.com
Classic sandwiches like Cubanos and apple and brie grilled cheese, messy and made with love.
Misfit Coffee, misfitcoffee.com
Roving coffee shop with espresso and other high-quality coffee drinks.
Tiki Tims, tikitimsmn.com
"Tropically" inspired dishes like fish tacos, crab cakes, and Kahlua pork sandwiches.
Drive-in-style burgers, duck fat fries, and shakes.
Smoking Cow, thesmokingcow.com
From the people who brought you Curious Goat, the Smoking Cow will add to the slowly growing roster of smoked meat trucks.