Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Street Fights

The Mr. Softee ice cream trucks churning out their annoyingly repetitive jingles, and the dirty dog carts polluting the air with the smell of burnt pretzels, are no longer the only street food vendors around. Upscale food trucks are popping up all over the city, testing the laws of supply and demand, heightening intense competition for pedestrian customers.

In Wednesday's Dining section, The Times caught up on the recent disputes over prime territory among these new vendors and the old guard. Midtown Lunch has been all over the issue and if you've been reading carefully, In a Nutshell directed your attention to it a couple of weeks ago.

Is the fighting driven by a sense of desperation in this economy? Is this a sign that the food truck market has already ridden a steep curve to a saturation point? Personally, though I have only tried a few of the options, the variety offered among these trucks is a welcome addition to the city's food community, especially the sweeter ones. I say that not just because I like dessert but also because I have found that the city lacks post-dinner dessert options for those who want dessert elsewhere. The idea of the carts seems also to mesh well with the growing Twitter crowd - many of these carts update their current locations throughout the day on the site.

The Times article alone specifically mentions nine food carts and references another. The roaming sweets vendors cited include:
Street Sweets
Cupcake Stop
Treats Truck - The desserts here are less fancy than just simple and tasty.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream truck - See my verdict on this from a few weeks ago.
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Not mentioned in the article is the great Dessert Truck. The individual-sized desserts offered include a superb chocolate bread pudding, one of my favorites.

On the savory side, you can go for Taiwanese food from the Cravings truck. There's also the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck which is related to the local Rickshaw Dumpling chain. Based on my experience at the brick and mortar business, I'd advise spending your money on subway fare to Chinatown for cheaper, better-tasting dumplings. Another one that started as a stationary vendor is Le Gamin, which sells sandwiches and crepes.

And then there are the things you wouldn't think would have a big enough audience for a truck devoted soley to that food - a new schnitzel truck called Schnitzel & Things or Wafels & Dinges, a Belgian waffle truck.

The Times article also mentions the Steak truck and the new La Cense Burger truck.

New Yorkers are suckers for pizza, and in addition to all the many well-known pizza places, the city has an appetite for several traveling pizza trucks:
Papa Perrone
Vinny Vincenz

Beyond all of these, there are plenty more varieties of street food, including halal carts and several Mexican/taco carts that have been widely praised. And the trend is not just limited to New York, but extends around the country as The Wall Street Journal took note of last month.

So keep your eyes open and stay hungry!

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