10 Tasty New York City Food Carts and Trucks

by Andrew Hickey on June 15, 2010

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Believe it or not, the most popular question I receive in my inbox from people visiting New York (or who have just moved here) is not about the typical tourist attractions. Instead people want to know where to get their hands on delicious food without breaking the bank. While New York is filled with top-notch and expensive places to eat, it is also home to a wide selection of some of the most mouth watering food trucks and street food of any major U.S. city. And lately, many of New York’s tastiest treats have gone mobile, moving from place to place to satisfy cravings all over Manhattan. So here is your guide on what to eat around New York, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled — you never know when you’ll cross paths with one of these moveable institutions.

Street Sweets: Have a sweet tooth? Then you will love this mobile bakery that offers up sweet and savory items such as brownies, cupcakes, muffins, croissants, and quiches. Wash it all down with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, or cool off with an iced tea. All ingredients use organic milk, raw sugar and fair-trade coffee beans. Take a peek inside and check out the beautiful (and spotless) kitchen on wheels.

The Jamaican Dutchy: This 2009 Vendy Award Finalists prepares breakfast items like banana oatmeal and corn meal, but it is the mouth scorching jerk chicken that keeps people coming back for more. Other must taste items include pumpkin soup, sweet & sour chicken and peppered steak.

Go Burger: I must admit that yours truly fashions himself a bit of a burger addict. So when I saw Go Burger in the distance one day while wandering the streets of New York City, I had to stop by and indulge. You can’t go wrong with the Classic with cheese, which is a 5 ounce grilled certified black Angus beef burger topped with tomato, red onion, iceberg lettuce & pickles. Not worried about your waistline? Then get one of their killer milkshakes to go.

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck: Described by The Village Voice as “a cross between Mister Softee and Mario Batali,” this truck offers some outstanding soft-served ice cream with such memorable names as Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, and sea salt, with a chocolate dip), Bea Arthur (dulce de leche and crushed Nilla Wafers), and my favorite, the Belgian Slipwich (vanilla ice cream, chocolate cartwheel cookies and Nutella).

Rickshaw Dumpling Truck: Quick to order, tasty and affordable, who doesn’t love a dumpling? Their menu includes such deliciousness as pork and Chinese chive dumplings with soy sesame dip, and sides like miso soup (which makes me so happy when I order it).

Asia Dog: While I love me some NYC classics like Nathan’s Famous and Gray’s Papaya, there is just something downright awesome about this hot dog food truck. They take your everyday “dawg” and spruce it up with Asian toppings like kimchi and seaweed flakes, Japanese curry and homemade kimchi apples, or Asian sesame slaw.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream: You think you know dessert? You aint see nuttin’ yet my friends. This is some serious ice cream that is made from the finest ingredients like cane sugar and  fresh, hormone free milk and cream — and free of crap like corn syrup. Flavors you can gobble up on a hot New York City day include coffee, peppermint & chip, ginger, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

Papa Perrone’s: Mamma mia, this Italian food is mouth watering and belly filling. Although Papa Perrone’s has some outstanding items on the menu like freshly made meatballs, baked ziti and chicken parm heroes, they are best known for their insanely addictive rice balls. Can’t go wrong with the three-cheese rice ball that comes with ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino romano cheese.

Wafels & Dinges: Another sweet treat on wheels is the Wafels & Dinges food truck. This bright yellow truck  offers up tasty Belgian waffles and plenty of dinges (AKA toppings) to choose from. Toppings cost $1 each, so I highly recommend paying an extra $2 for the WMD (Wafel of Massive Deliciousness). This allows you to pile on as many toppings as you like.  Some of the goodies you can add on include Nutella, dulce de leche, Belgian chocolate fudge, and whipped cream.

Halal Cart: No food cart list would be complete without easily the most popular of them all. Located permanently on 53rd Street and 6th Avenue (as opposed to the movable feasts above), Halal Cart is always home to a late-night crowd that often extends down the street. Order a gyro, pour on the white sauce, add a little hot sauce, take a big bite, wait a few seconds and enjoy food ecstasy. Stay nearby at the Hilton New York or the Warwick New York Hotel. Note: Halal Cart is only open 7:30pm-4am — during the day another licensed food cart works the same location.

Of course there are many, many more food trucks and street food around the Big Apple. If you do not see your favorite listed here, feel free to leave it in the comments below!

–Andrew Hickey of The Brooklyn Nomad

[Photo credit: finalgirl/Flickr]

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