My wife recently zapped up a photo to her Facebook page of a dinner I’d prepared. How giddy she was to see, snap, and share this home-cooked meal I had waiting for her. When I saw it, something hit me.
“Remember when we were kids,” I said. “Eating out was a big deal, and a home-cooked meal was an everyday thing.” She nearly lost control of her head from the laughter force.
Indeed, the dinner tables have turned. My fancy pans haven’t been used with real purpose in months. We’ve got cooking appliances, awesome ones, that haven’t seen the world outside of their boxes. Even my grill has been idle for almost a month. Meanwhile, we’ve amassed a war chest of restaurant-plate photography that could fill everyone’s calendars forever. It’s an odd, charmed life we live.
We resolved to change this and begin cleaning up our diets again this week, but Harriet Brewing held their Summer Sampler food truck rally last weekend and we weren’t about to go quietly. Besides, I didn’t eat enough cheeseburgers last month to update the rankings. Why even wake up in the morning if you can’t enrage someone with numbers, right?
Here they are, from 18-1, the food trucks of the Harriet Summer Sampler.
MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN
Motley Crew’s Heavy Metal Grill
Eat at Sandy’s
The Moral Omnivore
Red River Kitchen
With Mystic Lake’s beer fest redirecting some traffic, some favorites were down in Prior Lake but most usual suspects hung back out at Harriet. I’ll say, a Knockout Dog or a Funky Philly would have been golden when I showed up ravenous, or even Red River’s pork tacos, and my wife was mourning the absence of MO’s wild rice balls.
18. Jake’s City Grille
16. Brava on Wheels
15. Cafe Racer
Listen, having your least expensive menu item at $8 might work if you’re the only truck on the block, but I’m not trying you on if the outfit across the aisle stickers at half price and looks just as hot. If you had 17 competitors, why wouldn’t you just make a four-dollar something and get your stuff onto some plates?
Don’t think it’s a good idea? Just wait until you hear what the first item to sell out was.
14. Nate Dogs
The hitch on the cart busted, forcing Mr. Dogs out of the rally and denying us the opportunity to purchase eight footlongs from a recording artist. ASIDE: You’ve no idea how badly I want to buy my sister-in-law this bottle of mustard, to see how hard she can throw it upon reading “YOU DON’T NEED KETCHUP.”
YOU’VE FAILED ME ONCE BEFORE
13. O’Cheeze: Pretty Ricky, Lindsay Abraham, and I gave this truck a spin at Indeed one night. Three different sandwiches produced one conclusion: Ridonkulous prices for sad portions of something I could replicate precisely at home. The concept here is catering to those marooned in a tap room or cubicle, I get that, but make it taste like something, eh?
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME
12. I Love Coffee Minnesota
I refuse to spell it the way they do on their website. Anyway, recreational coffee just doesn’t happen for me. I slug it to zap my senses alive, and only then. I never drink smoothies. They sell sandwiches, as most coffee shops do, but coffee shop sandwiches are a slippery slope — specifically, THIS slippery slope.
11. Taste of Target Field
They’ve got the Kramarczuk bratwurst at $7 a throw, hey, and a few other Target Field signatures, but I’ve still got some-teen pounds of cheese brats in my freeze I’m trying to work through. For those not trying to work through a surplus, the Kramarczuk brat is a worthy investment.
NOT EXACTLY EXOTIC
10. Rusty Taco: The truck was peddling taco pairs for seven bucks, not too frightening, but they’ve got a storefront walking distance from my wife’s work in Plymouth. Food truck rallies are no place to have what you can get anytime.
9. A La Plancha
8. Potter’s Pasties
I love A La Plancha’s truck: You’ve got a photo of a masked wrestler pointing at his dog and dice, and that’s about it. “I want to give this man money” is an odd reaction to that, but that’s what I had. My wife wanted pot pies from Potter’s. They’ve got no low-or even mid-priced items, but we would’ve done it anyhow if the timing was right.
It was just too late. We were too full to fork over $8-10 for food we might not even finish.
7. World Street Kitchen
Cracked.com posted an article earlier this year about fan bases who secretly hate their own members. I feel that way about World Street Kitchen and their menu. They have one of the four best sandwiches I’ve had in my life in the Moroccan Fried Chicken (MFC, or Mother Fucking Chicken). They rarely advertise it, and they don’t bring it on the road. Why? Why do you hate one of the world’s best sandwiches when it’s coming out of YOUR kitchen? WHY? Shut up about your brunch and burritos. Get to the good stuff.
My wife ordered a $3 plain cob of sweetcorn and loved it — but this is the same woman who’s been known to eat scalding hot ears of corn while her tongue melted. You could also get the corn “Mexican style,” coated with toppings, but not for long: The second time we passed by WSK, maybe 90 minutes into the rally, the corn was sold out.
In case you’re wondering if a good, cheap item can hook people.
LAST SEASON’S WINNER
6. R.A. MacSammy’s
Build-your-own mac only goes wrong if you undercook the noodles or slipp fingernail clips into the mixture. MacSammy’s does it right, at a good price, and was declared winner by default — that is, the only one we ate from — when we breezed into Harriet’s spring rally. You remember that day, right? The glut of new peddlers kept us out of MacSammy’s this day, but believe me when I say it’s a top-tier mobile. If you see it,
hit it purchase food from it.
If this was a truck-fanciness ranking, they’d be number one with a shiny LED bullet. I’m surprised it didn’t fold up into a robot. I mowed through a mahi mahi taco, a nice $4 quickie, and they don’t short you on the fish. The shell was a nick starchy, but I’m not sure that’s preventable.
ROUTINELY DELICIOUS … BUT IT’S ROUTINE NOW
4. A Cupcake Social: Did I ever tell you about when I bought out A Cupcake Social’s entire leftover inventory after Pride Dabbler and sprinted across Uptown with it? Well, I did. It was 10 p.m. I hauled my sweaty caboose up Hennepin and across Lincoln (as if the street names matter), a good mile and some, to my car with a cake-sized pastry box under my arm.
When I delivered the box to my wife at a friend’s house, it looked like it’d been used as a Frisbee. Exactly one cupcake was intact. The others were on their side, some missing their frosting, some smashed together as one super-cake. It’s a good thing my wife and her friends were drinking. They pawed through that mess like a dirt mound with treasure beneath it.
A Cupcake Social is a guaranteed knockout dessert, regardless of make and model.
3. Hot Indian Foods: They won the first rally with frites, and they won Pride Dabbler with samosas and Bauhaus. Hot Indian Foods is for real. If anything, this rally is a weird NBA season when somebody aside than LeBron James is named MVP. Even as I type this, I can’t believe they’re not #1.
The frites are $4, but you get a buck off by dancing for them. I always dance, and it’s always the same dance: A gruesome admixture of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” gyration and the crazed pivot with which I search our kitchen table for car keys … but it always gets me that dollar off.
So who the F won? Let’s start with the crew who finished dead-last the first time.
MY WIFE’S WINNER
MidNord Empanada Truck
Last year, they ran out and had to close up early. I panned it as poor planning, but we get it now.
They’ve got a high ordering window and killer grub coming out of it, a pair of empanadas for $8. My wife couldn’t put down her pollo verde until it was gone. She said it tasted like an egg roll, but a little bit spicy. The verde sauce served on the side moistened the crust, and chips helped calm down the spiciness. The fact they served her a spicy dish and she ate it speaks volumes — thunderous ones.
I ate a chicken empanada, and it was good. I thought it lacked moisture, and there wasn’t enough verde sauce to make up the difference, but this reflects my psychosis for dipping sauces more than a defect on their part. Unlike most pocket-foods that are filled mostly with air (here’s looking at you, Undead Frank’s), MidNord’s empanadas were packed tight with goods. Bites drop into your stomach like anchors. It’s marvelous.
My trophy was taken by a landslide, however, by …
Turkey To Go
Fine. Technically, it’s a trailer.
They advertise “The tastiest bird in town” and you won’t see any arguments from me. The turkey was maddeningly moist — no really, who am I mugging to get that cooking technique? The regular giant turkey sandwich, which could have easily satisfied my hunger on its own on a regular day, was a mere $6.25.
If getting a $9 sandwich for $6.25 isn’t enough, extra topping ensembles like brie and jam or buffalo and bleu cheese were only a buck or two more. It was so good, my wife was sneaking her fork into my snack boat and making off with meat chunks. Turkey To Go has made waves at the state fair, Target Field, and continue making them at every stop they pull up to.
It shouldn’t be a shock in the least to know their founder was named Minnesota’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Small Business Association last year. They keep serving turkey like this and don’t let their egos set prices, they might be serving out of something like Gastro’s supertruck when they roll up next year. Hell, put that trailer near the Arden Hills Target. I’ll fund it myself.