Food truck season has returned, and with it, a bevy of delicious new (or, newish) options, ranging from barbecue to coffee to soul food to good stuff in between. Whether they’re parked at a downtown curb or perched outside a brewery or distillery, food trucks are easy to find: Just track their whereabouts through social media. Now hit the road and get eating.
Misfit Coffee Co.
Along with keeping their espresso machine busy with a long line of drink options, co-owners Marcus Parkansky, Mitchell Parkansky and Alex Boehm meticulously brew coffee using a handful of well-scrutinized methods. All require patience (and are worth the wait), and all utilize a half-dozen varieties of beans that are sourced from a Milwaukee-based small-batch roaster. Like any self-respecting Third Wave caffeination station, Misfit also formulates its own add-ins (caramel, vanilla, horchata), and this fun-loving laboratory is constantly devising coffee beverages that fall well outside the Americano norm: a latte with hints of bourbon, brown sugar, orange peel, honey and charred oak wood, anyone? As for the iced tea (both selection and preparation), it can be summarized in a single sound: Ahhhhhh.
One reason why owner Hans Berreau started his truck last year was because he wanted to create a market for the Black Angus cattle that he raises at his 70-acre farm near Faribault, Minn. Chef Ian Cosgrove’s eclectic menu rolls with the seasons, but the burger — starring that premium beef, of course — is a fixture, and the No. 1 seller is a well-perfumed Thai-style chicken rice bowl. If there are pork tacos, order them, and Berreau has a connection to Copper River salmon via a commercial fisherman buddy, so be on the lookout. As for the Loud Mouth name, it was either that, or the Panhandler. “Loud Mouth fits my personality better,” said Berreau with a laugh.
Paul Koll has worked in the food industry 25 years. “And I’ve done everything but run the show,” he said. “So I took my nest egg, and I started something.” That “something” is this soup-centric operation. The chalkboard menu’s half-dozen options (served in cups or bread bowls) change frequently; there could be a chunky tomato infused with bacon, or a hearty potato enriched with sausage, and Koll always features some lively variation on chili. All are prepared by At Last! Gourmet Foods in Minneapolis, Koll’s onetime employer. Heading into summer, expect to encounter chilled soups, and when Koll parks outside St. Paul’s Burning Brothers Brewing, he features gluten-free soups to match the brewery’s gluten-free beers. As for being his own boss? “I love it,” said Koll. “A lot.”
Bark and the Bite
Noah Miller and Toph Heubach have channeled all the know-how they accumulated while working at the former Sapor Cafe and Bar into what they’re billing as an “artisan barbecue food truck.” At this don’t-miss enterprise, everything’s skillfully engineered, right down to the trio of sauces (slightly sweet, mustard-fueled and “Midwest” spicy) and the tasty sides; piping-hot hush puppies are the bestsellers, but don’t allow a deep-fried craving to overshadow the robust, garlic aioli-fueled potato salad. The applewood-smoked chicken and pork are sold straight-up, in sandwiches, or platter-style; all are first-rate. For vegetarians and vegans, Miller gives the barbecue treatment to young, still-green jackfruit. Here’s a tip: If Miller is pulling dry-rub baby back ribs from the smoker, by all means, order them.
The Curious Goat
Career-wise, chef Ian Gray cooks to the beat of a different drum. He closed his restaurant (Lyn-Lake’s the Gray House) and entered the street food business; usually, it’s the other way around. Credit the menu’s frequent changes to Gray’s built-in roving curiosity, which translates into smoked lamb tacos, goat meatballs with polenta, onion-packed beef sliders topped with ramp butter, and other delicacies. Corn Dog Appreciation Week has sadly come and gone, but cheese curd fans will be elated by Gray’s sublime rendition. They’re crafted out of fresh, tangy curds from Singing Hills Goat Dairy in Nerstrand, Minn. With Gray’s deep fryer finesse, they’re nothing short of an edible sonnet to fried food. The happiest day imaginable? That’ll be when Gray’s goat burger reappears.
The magic word at this family-run newcomer? Catfish. The mother-daughters team of Kathleen Johnson, Kelli Johnson and Ordia Drew make the most of this rich fish, seasoning it with a house-made spice blend (“that’s my super-duper-secret recipe,” said Kathleen) and blackening it to perfection, or grilling it and sliding it into sliders. That same seasoning jazzes up crisp-skinned chicken wings, and consider it your lucky day if the baker in the family — that’s Kelli — has pulled together a peach cobbler. Musicians and caterers, the trio changed their eating habits after losing loved ones to diabetes and heart disease. “The words ‘healthy’ and ‘soul food’ are usually an oxymoron,” said Kathleen Johnson. “We’re making a healthier version of soul food, without taking away what it does. Which is ‘makes us happy.’ ”
Following in the tracks of Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, Rusty Tacos, Falafel King, New Bohemia, the Anchor Fish & Chips and other familiar local names, this mini-chain has added a roving kitchen to its brick-and-mortar setup. It’s amusingly known as the B.E.R.T. (Burger Emergency Response Team), and it replicates the signature My Burger item, right down to the snappy sweet pickles and other noticeably fresh fixings, as well as the generously buttered and toasted buns. The golden fries are first-rate, and the veggie burger isn’t bad, although it’s one-upped by the toasty, drenched-in-butter grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s hoping that My Burger’s sensational fish sandwich will make an appearance, and soon.
Another restaurant that’s added a mobile component is this 70-year-old Minneapolis institution. At his truck, painted a can’t-miss pink, co-owner Anthony Polski keeps it simple: sandwiches (chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork, all jazzed by the Market’s house-made sauces) with a heaping helping of golden, crispy fries. Or a smallish platter of dry-rub pork ribs, the dense, flavorful meat cooked in the restaurant’s brick-lined pit and then reheated in the truck’s broiler, which is fueled by the glowing embers of cherry wood. The coleslaw is teasingly sweet, the dense cornbread has a similarly sugar-backed bite, and the service couldn’t be more we’re-happy-to-be-here enthusiastic. And no, that’s not an ATM in the truck’s side. It’s a jukebox. Good times.
The up-for-anything crew behind Lyn 65 is diving into the food truck scene. Front and center will be a slight variation on the restaurant’s sigh-inducing fried chicken, sold by the piece and paired with biscuits and vegetarian sides. “It’s basically going to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken on wheels,” said co-owner Benjamin Rients. A bonus: Co-owner Jason Sawicki will also be offering a version of the restaurant’s artery-clogging fried bologna sandwich, all served out of a retrofitted RV, a 1979 Chevrolet Vandura. “It’s the scariest thing in the entire world to drive,” said Rients with a laugh. “But we think that we’re going to fill a niche in the food truck world.” Save the date: Wyn 65 is rolling out at Tattersall Distilling (1620 Central Av. NE., Mpls., tattersalldistilling.com) on May 2.
6439 Lyndale Av. S., Richfield, lyn65.com. Truck’s website and Twitter handle are coming soon.
Looking for food trucks? Follow 90+ on Twitter by subscribing at strib.mn/foodtrucks.
Rick Nelson • 612-673-4757 @RickNelsonStrib