FOLLOW THAT TRUCK!
New York Food Trucks Go Gourmet
Street food has moved way beyond hot dogs and halal carts. Now you can get everything from red-velvet cupcakes to grass-fed burgers from these trucks.
After a decade as an IBM management consultant, Belgian native Thomas DeGeest quit his corporate job in 2007 to bring a taste of his homeland to the Big Apple. DeGeest's bright yellow Wafels & Dinges truck serves two types of Belgian waffles: fluffy, rectangular Brussels-style waffles, from the northern part of the country; and chewier, round liège waffles, from the southern part. Through the truck's large front window, you can watch the waffles being made in large, cast-iron presses. Dress your waffles with dinges (Belgian slang for "toppings") like Nutella, Belgian chocolate, fresh strawberries and bananas, whipped cream, and spekuloos (a creamy cinnamon-ginger sauce). Or, order your waffle as DeGeest gets his—with just a light sprinkling of powdered sugar, so you can really savor the pastry. Tip: Check Wafels & Dinges's Twitter feed or call to learn the daily password or trivia question that will give you one free dinges. Various locations in Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Check twitter.com/waffletruck or call 866/429-7329 for updates. From $3. wafelsanddinges.com.
New York City may be the country's unofficial cupcake capital, but Lev Ekster, a recent New York Law School graduate, wasn't impressed with the local offerings. He felt that he often waited on long lines at the big name bakeries for subpar cupcakes. Convinced that he could shake up the cupcake scene, Ekster shelved his fledgling legal career to start CupcakeStop, which works the Flatiron District and other pedestrian-heavy neighborhoods. Baker Manal Mady's airy red velvet and rich Oreo crumb cupcakes are the truck's staples. The menu rotates quirky flavors, such as the Elvis (banana and peanut butter), strawberry shortcake, peanut butter and jelly, and Key lime. 5th Ave. between 22nd and 23rd Sts., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., 23rd St. between 7th and 8th Aves., 6 p.m.–10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, though locations are subject to change. Check twitter.com/cupcakestop for updates. $1–$2.25. cupcakestop.com.
When Johnpaul Perrone launched the rice ball truck Papa Perrone's last year, he wasn't even sure there'd be a market for his Sicilian speciality. He only knew that he had been making rice balls with his mother's recipe for years, and for almost as long, friends and family had urged him to start a business. Luckily for Perrone, his loved ones' intuitions proved correct. The softball-sized concoctions—popular with Midtown's office workers and tourists—come stuffed with meatballs, three cheeses, or spinach and cheese. Despite their size, they're surprisingly light; Perrone "flash fries" the rice balls in extra virgin olive oil and then lightly bakes them to ensure a slightly crispy crust. Papa Perrone's menu also includes baked ziti, pizza, and meatball, chicken, and eggplant parmesan heroes. 55th St. between Madison and Park Aves., 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Rice balls from $4, other menu items from $1.50. papaperrone.com.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. six days a week, NYC Cravings churns out heaping plates of hearty Taiwanese snacks. The lunchtime combos feature one large piece of fried meat (chicken, a pork chop, or tianbula, a Taiwanese fish cake) topped with "secret pork sauce" and served on a bed of white rice with a side of pickled cabbage. Steamed pork and vegan dumplings are also available most days. Though NYC Cravings is owned and operated by 20-somethings Thomas Yang, Diana Yang, and Eric Yu, the culinary prowess of the Yang family is present in every dish. The secret pork sauce comes from the Yangs' grandmother, and the Yangs' uncle, Steven Yang, a chef who was trained in Taiwan and America, works behind the scenes beforehand to prepare and marinate the meats. Various locations in midtown and downtown Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Sunday through Friday. Check twitter.com/nyccravings for updates. $3–$8. nyccravings.com.