It is the very beginning of the sweet days of spring, when no one can bear to stay inside and tables appear outside of restaurants (and people occupying them even when it’s premature).
And in come the food trucks…Sure food trucks can be seen all year round; on busy Manhattan blocks or quiet quads in Philly. But they can’t be nearly as fun when weather is chilly.
In celebration of the coming end of term, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, treats its students (and trespassers…shh) to a fun time featuring different food trucks. This year four trucks from both Jersey and Manhattan, came to play on the school’s campus amid loud dance music, inflatable play things and carnival goodies like cotton candy and popcorn.
A Hoboken and Jersey City staple, the Taco Truck never disappoints. The Taco Truck actually has a small storefront in Hoboken, dishing out pretty delicious tacos and other savories. For one token at Boken, we got a respectful meal— 2 tacos and a healthy dose of rice and beans. The options were pollo asado, barbacoa de costillo and a vegetarian choice. My boyfriend (the student) and I used two of our combined four tokens there. We chose the pollo asado and barbacoa de costillo.
First off the arroz con frijoles was hot and spicy, perfect for the chilly day. It was hard to tell which brought more of the heat—the beans or the rice. The pollo assado, served in corn tortillas was topped with pickled red onion and a slice of lime for the tart juice. The chicken was tender and flavorful with a kick heightened with the tang of the pickled onions. While the barbacoa de costillo was not quite as good; the meat felt a little dry and over done. The chopped white onions and dash of cilantro brought the taco to life. I love love love tacos (as you can see…) and the Taco Truck so this food truck was definitely a welcomed addition.
This food truck, the Milk Truck, was only serving grilled cheese exquisitely described, beautiful to see, but fell short in taste. They were made with Aged Wisconsin Gruyere, cultured butter on Balthazar Levain Pullman bread. The ingredients were lovely, high quality and created high expectations. But somehow the ratios were not right. I know it was just a grilled cheese, but the truck was trying to create something more than “just a grilled cheese.” The gruyere, though sharp, tangy and delicious, overwhelmed; the sandwich was far too cheesy. The bread ended up being crunchy, almost like a grease filled crouton. The sandwich was rubbery and chewy, while being crunchy and flat. It was a pretty sandwich but needed something to wake up the sleepy grilled cheese.
Unfortunately we did not use tokens on Eddie’s Pizza Truck. Though we did see many people chomping on the paper thin pizza, recreation of the “bar pie” created in the Eddie’s Restaurant in New Hyde Park, NY. The thin sheet of crust was laden with red red tomato sauce and slippery cheese, and looked good, but I feared it would get cold too fast.
Now once we saw these cheesesteaks, we knew we had to get in the tremendous line to get one. On first glimpse they looked fat and promising, unlike any cheesesteak we encountered in the cheesesteak capital. Phil’s was going to deliver… and that it did. We could not have been that hungry at this point, but we scarfed down those bad boys with gusto, like we hadn’t had food in days. Those plush but durable buns apparently were shipped from the city of “brotherly love,” just to make their way into the mouths of New Yorkers lusting for cheesesteaks Philly style. The meat was chopped and shaved like, but not dry and tasteless. We could hear the guys cooking away in the truck, serving up our special cheesesteaks (with hot and sweet peppers, mushrooms and fried onions) with a thick layer of provolone cheese. They were hot, meaty, substantial and comforting.
I really commend and appreciate food trucks as they create food from simple to the exquisite and high end in a small, portable space. Somehow food trucks emanate comfort food and convenience, but at the same time for me they create an exciting experience, something different and transient.