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Continued: Eight great food trucks worth a visit

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 25, 2014 - 3:43 PM

The vegetarian-friendly menu includes two more instant food-truck classics. Who needs beef when beet sliders are this good? The recipe evolved from the couple’s weekly CSA box, and that eternal farm-share question, “What are we going to do with all of these beets?”

Plenty, as it turns out. The second classic is portobello caps, battered and fried, the panko coating’s crispness (and gentle curry seasoning) a marvelous contrast to the meaty mushrooms. They’ve become so popular that the couple are finding themselves cleaning and slicing 150 pounds of Minnesota-raised mushrooms a week.

Vegans will be happy here, too — witness the superb wild rice sliders — and the couple’s commitment to locally sourced vegetables and herbs has made them familiar faces at the Midtown and Northeast Minneapolis farmers markets.

Be on the lookout

Chipotle alum Jean Hutar has transferred her quick-service food smarts to Butcher Salt (www.butchersalt.com, @ButcherSalt), and she’s now the source of stellar beef sliders — plus-sized, grass-fed patties, finished with just-right toppings — as well as a prizewinning hot dog, an all-beef beauty imported to the mean streets of Minneapolis from Steve’s Meat Market in Ellendale, Minn., and lavishly dressed. Dessert? Hutar’s well-made salted caramels, of course.

After trying to nail down a skyway location for their restaurant concept, Dustin Naugle and Tiffany Hauser decided to channel their energies — and shrink their start-up costs — by test-driving their Green + the Grain (www.greenandthegrain.com, @GreenNtheGrain) as a food truck. The main event is tossed-to-order salads, but the sleeper hit — for me, anyway — is the tangy soft-serve frozen yogurt.

At first glance, the seemingly innocuous koshary — a bowl of rice, lentils, elbow macaroni and spaghetti — could almost be mistaken for a Lutheran potluck hot dish. But then Flavor Wagon (@Flavor_Wagon) entrepreneurs Rommy Ayoub and Mohamed Ebrahim unleashed their secret weapon, a cayenne-infused cumin-tomato sauce that’s several pay grades above Minnesota spicy. Pair it with the refreshing, garden-fresh tabbouleh.

The grilled cheese sandwich in all of its buttery, gooey, toasty glory is the house specialty at O’Cheeze (www.ocheeze.com, @O_Cheeze). Co-owners Haley and Tony Fritz take a thoughtful approach to their most basic iteration (a harmonious cheese trio), and when they really get going (fontina playing off salty bacon, tart apples and mellow honey) they hit pay dirt. Three cheers to their well-executed soups.

As chef Keven Kvalsten and his crew at Red River Kitchen hopscotch between farmers markets and breweries (www.redriverkitchen.com, @RedRiverKitchen), they jump between breakfast (richly embellished scrambled egg/roasted potato tacos) and not-breakfast (fully-loaded turkey burgers) mode with equal flair.

Kris Olson is so obsessed with chiles — he cultivates nearly two dozen varieties — that he christened his just-debuted food truck after one of his favorites. Filius Blue (@FiliusBlue) specializes in well-seasoned Caribbean and Latin-style flavors, funneling pork, chicken and beef into well-sauced sandwiches and tacos. Salads, too.

A question: Why do noon-hour downtown Minneapolis consumers put up with the hassles of Marquette Avenue when the diner-friendly platform of Canadian Pacific Plaza — Tons of seating! Well-attended trash receptacles! — await 2nd Avenue food-truck patrons?

And a suggestion: For those interested in a favorite’s whereabouts, start speaking the food truck lingua franca that is Twitter. It’s easy, it’s free, and it will become indispensable.

Hall of fame

The food truck universe is in a constant state of flux. Still, if these players — none associated with bricks-and-mortar outlets — are on the street, by all means, stop and eat: MidNord Empanada (@MidNordTrucks), Gastrotruck (@gastrotruck), Scratch (@scratchfoodtrk), Dandelion Kitchen (@dandelionktchn, Get Sauced (@ChefDrivenCo), A la Plancha (@aLaPlanchaMPLS), Emconada Food Truck (@Emconada), Vellee Deli (@VelleeDeli), Sassy Spoon (@SassySpoonTruck), Natedogs (@Nate_Dogs), Gogi Bros. (@GogiBros) and Brava (@eatbrava).

Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib

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