The co-owners of Hola Arepa, Birk Grudem and Christina Nguyen, found inspiration for their teal-green truck while dining at a Venezuelan restaurant in New York City. They zeroed in on arepas, hand-rolled, fresh-baked cornmeal buns the size of English muffins that are split, grilled and filled with a variety of superbly executed taste sensations. Combos range from slow-roasted, fall-apart pork with black beans and a sprinkling of crumbled Cotija cheese to a cilantro- and pickled onion-studded chicken salad. The chunky guacamole would inspire envy in Mexican cooking authority Rick Bayless, the pickled cabbage coleslaw boasts a snappy vinegar bite, and all meals should be served with the sweet/tart cucumber- and mint-laced lemonade, a nod to Grudem's mixologist days at Bradstreet Craftshouse.
Former Cosmos chef Stephen Trojahn is the creative force behind Gastrotruck, a meals-on-wheels version of the locavore-minded gastropub, minus the beer. The slider, sold in pairs on grilled New French Bakery buns, is the food vehicle of choice, and each one elicits a major case of the You Gotta Taste This: smoked trout blended with wild rice and dressed with red peppers; deliriously tender slow-cooked pork belly topped with butter-braised Swiss chard and tangy pickled daikon; a vegetarian's dream of a barbecued sandwich, done up with black-eyed peas and smoked tempeh. Even the sides -- a wheatberry/feta salad, deluxe dessert bars -- are worth the trip. Ditto the sodas. Seriously, wow.
- Kellogg Blvd./Wabasha St., St. Paul (Wed.), St. Paul Farmers Market (Sat.)
POTTER'S PASTIES & PIES
Go for Fiona Carter's charming Brit accent, stay for her fiancé Alex Duncan's exceptional savory pasties, single-serving pies filled with all manner of deliciousness, from a potato-carrot-spinach one tossed in lively red coconut curry sauce to chunks of slow-roasted pork tossed with Granny Smith apples and onions. Duncan, a Barbette and 128 Cafe vet, spent months perfecting his pastry recipe, and the efforts show in each golden, tender bite. Want a crack at their chocolate/toffee/banana pie? Arrive early. It sells fast.
- Rice Park, Mears Park ("It depends on where we can find the parking spaces," Carter said), St. Paul (weekdays)