Street food lovers know World Street Kitchen, the food truck (pictured, above, in its weekday perch at NIcollet Mall and 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis). Or, for their sake, here’s hoping they do. In any event, WSK co-owners (and siblings) Sameh and Saed Wadi have some exciting news.
Coming soon, to 28th and Lyndale in south Minneapolis: World Street Kitchen, the restaurant.
This isn’t one of those we’ve-been-dying-to-turn-our-truck-into-a-restaurant stories. “Actually, we were ready to open a restaurant before we opened the truck,” said Sameh Wadi. “We’ve been working on a bricks-and-mortar place for two years, but when the city opened up the truck licensing, we decided to jump on that first. We’ve been using it as out test kitchen.”
And no, the permanent restaurant — which is going to be located at 2743 Lyndale Av. S. in Minneapolis, in the retail portion of the new Greenleaf apartment building — isn't going to replace the truck. Instead, the restaurant’s kitchen is going to supply its mobile unit.
Wadi (pictured, above), the chef behind the exceptional Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, plans to continue the truck’s globally eclectic and affordable menu at its permanent iteration. “We’re definitely going to keep the tacos, the banh mi, the yum-yum rice bowls, the burritos, all those signature dishes," he said. "And we'll be keeping the prices below $12."
A roomier kitchen — the prep space is 10 times larger than that of the truck’s — means that Wadi can also expand the menu to include the kinds of features that he’s only been able to sporadically offer at the truck, and keep them on the menu for longer periods of time.
“Basically I’m going to be doing food that I love to eat,” he said. “It’s very selfish of me, but for the first time I’m going to cook whatever I want, whenever I want it. Just yummy food.”
Beer and wine will hopefully be part of the mix. The counter-service setup will operate just like the truck: Order and pay at a counter, followed by a short wait until the food arrives. One small difference between truck and permanent location? Truck diners have to improvise a seat or eat standing up; the restaurant will feature a casual 60- to 70-seat dining room. “It’s my idea of the way fast food should be,” said Wadi.
Shea Inc., the Minneapolis firm that directed a much-needed Saffron nip-tuck last year, is designing the new place.
Right now the plan is to serve lunch and dinner. Brunch is also on the docket, in part because Wadi said feels like it's a natural extension of the truck’s existing mindset. The culinary serendipity is already taking hold. Last week, inspiration hit as Wadi and his crew were preparing tacos filled with caramelized lamb belly.
“I made some hash browns, topped them with an egg and used that lamb belly from the taco and thought, ‘We need to be open for brunch so we can feature this item,’” he said with a laugh.
Opening date? By year’s end.