The food truck revolution has only exacerbated the woeful lack of green space in downtown Minneapolis, a shortage that downtown St. Paul -- with Rice, Mears, Kellogg and other excellent urban parks -- doesn't have.
Still, downtown street-fooders aren't without options. The easy solution is an al fresco lunch on Nicollet Mall, where every block between 4th and 10th Streets features planters that double as seating, along with a generous number of trash and recycling receptacles.
There are three reasons why the amenity-minded head to the Mall's 5th Street intersection. First, the parking lot (A) that plays host to World Street Kitchen (www.eatwsk.com) is edged with a half-block-long polished stone bench.
Second, Xcel Energy's sunny and spotless plaza (B) -- home to Tollefson Family Grill (www.tollefsonfamilypork.com) -- is outfitted with honest-to-goodness tables and chairs (a downtown rarity), tons of wide gray granite benches and ample trash and recycling stashes. It's truly a generous gift to the city.
Third, the Renaissance Square building (C) (520 Nicollet Mall) features some semi-comfortable ledge seating that's also prime people-watching real estate.
Jump down Nicollet Mall to 11th Street for the slick little plaza (D) -- the one with curving stone benches and sculptural fountain -- outside Target Plaza South (1020 Nicollet Mall). Then there's Peavey Plaza (E). Ignore its bone-dry fountains and pool -- and the Orchestra Hall construction clamor -- and relax under an urban forest of shade trees.
One other plaza note: Just a block east of Marquette Avenue, the shaded, amphitheater-style seating outside One Financial Plaza (F) (5th Street and 2nd Avenue S.) is a handy and comfortable perch for street-fooders. Garbage bins, yes; recycling bins, no.
Oh, and anyone who has ever grazed through the gantlet of trucks that line up on Marquette Avenue between 6th and 8th Streets knows that it's strictly a stand-up or carry-back-to-the- office kind of setup. So here's a tip: Take a seat on one of the plentiful benches built into the base of the AT&T Tower (G) (901 Marquette Av. S.). There's just one caveat, and that's a notable lack of nearby trash containers.
Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @ricknelsonstrib
FINDING FOOD TRUCK
Want to track food truck locations? Log into Twitter and follow @tcstreetfood, which closely chronicles the current whereabouts of dozens of street food vendors. For a complete list of Twin Cities food trucks, go to twitter.com/startribune/twin-cities-food-trucks.