Banished is the YuckTruck of your college years (you know what I'm talking about, Providence College alums) and those mystery meat mobiles serving tepid, dirty water 'dogs. Presently in almost every town you find chefs, with impressive resumes, serving up fantastic fare out of mobile state-of-the-art kitchens (aka Food Trucks). Friendly tip: most trucks are cash-only so be safe and hit the ATM before you line up, or you might go home with empty hands and a grumbling stomach.
Here are some of our favorite eateries on wheels.
The truck has been cookin' for court goers and Bridgeporters for the past 10 years, but with a new Spanish influenced menu under new ownership since 2009. Owner, Janet Marzan, serves up hot breakfast sandwiches like “The Felony”, egg whites with cheese, tomatoes, onions and peppers on a croissant, juicy burgers, tasty sandwiches, and hotdogs (of course!): kielbasa, red hots, and good old 'dogs with creative toppings. Try the “Crooked Dawg” wrapped with bacon and slathered in a cheese sauce with creamy garlic mayo. On Wednesdays they have Spanish Specials like juicy ribs over rice and beans with just the right amount of zing. Janet's food is so good it's criminal.
Cuisine – Take-Me-Out-to-the-Ball-Game with a Spanish twist
Best Bet – “The Judge”, grilled chicken topped with lettuce, tomato and onion crispers drizzled with “Grandpa sauce” a secret Italian family recipe; and the “Poe Poe Banger”, a deep fried, Spanish mashed potato and seasoned beef “egg roll”
Price Range – $2.25 up to $7.95
Parks – in front of the Fairfield County Courthouse, 1061 Main Street in downtown Bridgeport. Open Monday – Friday from 7AM to 3PM. You can call to pre-order 203-814-5110, (they'll deliver, too!) or check them out on Facebook.
Uncle G's BBQ
If you didn't notice the gleaming silver Star Catering trailer parked by the entrance to Veterans Memorial Park in Bridgeport, then the wafting smoke and incredible scents coming from the 18' smoker parked behind it will really get your attention. Glenn Leonard serves up all homemade, on the premises, barbeque plus delicious sides like smoked corn on the cob and cornbread. Fresh watermelon slices and ice cream will cap off your meal. If you don't have time to pull over give him a call, he caters events, too.
Cuisine – Serious Texas-style BBQ
Bestseller – “Pulled Pork Sandwich” and as Uncle G says in his booming voice, “Every sandwich comes with a fork. It's overloaded, Texas-style.” It's so popular he recently sold over 1 ton of pork in 9 weeks.
Price Range – “cheap” from $2 up to $10 for a full dinner with 2 sides
Parks – on Park Avenue in Bridgeport next to the Veterans Memorial Park entrance (between Sacred Heart University and the Discovery Magnet School). Open Monday – Saturday from 11AM to 7PM (and sometimes later). Call to find out where they are, 203-278-1575, or check them out on Facebook.
The classically trained French chef, Christophe Ensenat, owns the truck and whips up every crepe and Belgian waffle (weekends only) to order. Choose from 5 different savory (add in ham, turkey, fresh pear or apple slices, tomatoes, gorgonzola or goat cheese and vegetables like red peppers, yellow squash and zucchini). Plus 9 choices of sweet crepes (add in fresh fruit, lemon curd, jams, honey, chocolate, coconut) with magnifique daily specials. You get a stamp for each crepe you buy, after 6 stamps you get one free. Tres bien! The crepes cook up quickly and you can park yourself on a sun dappled bench by the library and dig in.
Cuisine – ooh la la French
Best Bet – “Fresh strawberries and Nutella” crepe, and Christophe's savory crepe made with French brie, fresh apple slices and your choice of ham or turkey
Price Range – they top out at $8
Parks – at The Fairfield Public Library on the Post Road. Open daily from 12-2pm, (provided the weather is nice, crepes don't do well in the rain and snow…) Call 646-596-6879 to find out where Christophe is parked.
Rowayton & Norwalk
This roving Lobster truck launched it's maiden voyage this year on May 22nd. Commercial Lobsterman and owner, Michael Harden, steams up his fresh caught lobsters in the truck. The buttered, hot lobster rolls like the “Coastal” are a straight-up, no-messing-around lobster roll, or if you're feeling adventuresome order the “Heat Wave”. It's mound of lobster is drizzled with Habanero and Serrano pepper infused butter and seasoned with a kick. All of their split-top lobster rolls are baked fresh daily by the New York Bakery in Norwalk and come with homemade chips and spicy slaw on the side. It's almost too good to be true.
Cuisine – Reinvented lobster rolls, you betcha
Best Bet – “LBLT Roll” yes(!) the bacon is cooked onsite and crumbled on top with farmer's market, fresh lettuce and tomato. As Cap'n Mike says, “nothing makes a good, hot, buttered lobster roll better, than bacon.”
Price Range – market price, $10 – $30
Parks – at the Rowayton Farmer's Market on Fridays. Follow them on Twitter to make sure you know just where they're parking in Rowayton and Norwalk. Or call them at 203-856-2635 and Cap'n Mike will give you their exact location.
Business partners and best pals Darlene Andersen and Chef Diana Hall, who fires up her French Culinary Institute training, dish out gourmet, American-style comfort food with flair from a tricked out truck with a state-of-the-art kitchen. Melt Mobile takes pride in serving yummy food made on local artisanal breads from Beldotti's Bakery in Stamford. They cook with fine, local and imported cheeses, and the highest quality, organic meats and produce. All of those fresh ingredients must have something to do with the fact that their grilled cheeses (whether sweet or savory) are the perfect balance of crispy and oozey. Definitely not the lunch counter's greasy, soggy sandwich. Don't know how they do it, just glad they do!
Cuisine – All-American, ooey gooey comfort food
Best Bet – “The Classic”, load it up with sauteed onions, and bacon, maybe even add in some sliced tomatoes or mushrooms. Don't forget about their “Tomato Soup”, thick and creamy, perfect for dipping. Umm, good.
Price Range – up to $10
Parks – in Veteran’s Park, Atlantic Street in Stamford/Landmark Square (across from the old Town Hall) Open Tuesday – Friday from 11:30AM to 3:30PM, year-round. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.
This Mexican Food Truck is beloved for their insanely extraordinario tacos like the “Al Pasor” (Pork with Pineapple makes a salty and sweet treat.) Don't be intimidated if you're not a Mexican food afficianado, they have burgers and 'dogs in addition to Burritos, Tortas, Tostadas, Quesadillas and much more! (The truck was so popular they opened a take-out restaurant in the Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich.)
Cuisine – Mexican
Best Bet– “Mexican Quesadilla”, handmade corn tortillas filled with Mexican cheese, your choice of meat–chicken, steak or spicy pork–with lettuce, Mexican creama and sprinkled with cotija cheese, also go for their “Huaraches”, fried corn masa dough filled with your choice of salsa, meat, beans and cheese. Never had one? Line up!
Price Range – $2 up to $7.50
Parks – in front of Beamers Café and Triple J on Richmond Hill Ave. in Stamford, Monday – Saturday 11AM – 8PM, closed Sunday. During the summer they stay open until 9PM on Fridays and Saturdays. For updates check them out on Facebook.
This wood-fired mobile oven operates year-round serving only local, seasonal and mainly organic ingredients from farmers in CT & NY. Since they are an open air trailer and not a “truck” you won't find them on a street corner. They operate at Farmer's Markets and cater private events (up to 300 people). Their thin crust 10” pizzas are made with whole wheat dough (don't worry your kids won't be able to tell). In addition to pizzas Chef/Owner Jeff Borofsky is also serving fresh salads and mouth-watering wood-fired s'mores for a sweet treat. For private catering events their menu expands to included pulled pork and chicken sliders, as well as, creamy and decadent gelato from New Haven's Gelato Guiliana.
Cuisine – Neapolitan-style “farm to pizza”
Best Bet – “Bianco Pizza” made with mozzarella cheese and topped with rosemary and olives
Price Range – $9 to $12
For more info call 203-727-8177, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter @skinnypines
Great Trucks outside of Fairfield County
Lucky Taco (Hartford)
Owner and Chef David Emmons spices up traditional Tex-Mex flavors to create a whole new taco experience that's not to be missed! From breakfast tacos (served all day) to vegetarian options like avocado, sliced tomatoes and Jack cheese tacos. Yum.
Cuisine – Not your Tia's Tacos
Best Bet – “Pork Carnitas Taco” with slaw and green sauce with a zing
Price Range – $2.50 to $6
The Cheese Truck (New Haven)
Cheese expert and host of the Cooking Channel show “The Big Cheese”, Chef Jason Sobocinski (owner of the award-winning Caseus Fromagerie Bistro), teamed up with Tom Sobocinski (a self proclaimed truck lover), to create this mobile cheese sensation bringing the amazing cheeses of Caseus to the streets of New Haven. Their grilled cheese sandwiches are cheesetastic, and their vegetarian soups, crisp fresh salads and sandwiches are sensational, too.
Cuisine – Gourmet grilled cheese
Best Bet – “Classic Grilled Cheese” made with a blend of provolone, Swiss, Gruyère, Comté, Gouda, and sharp cheddar grilled to crunchy perfection on sourdough bread served with tangy cornichon pickles and grainy mustard for dipping.
Price Range – $5 to $10
Parks – in and around downtown New Haven. For their specific location look on Facebook and Twitter @caseusgrilled or on their website's live feed or call them on the good, old-fashioned phone 203-850-3504 to find out where they're parked.
Cupcake Truck (New Haven)
With a compulsion (in a good way) to bake and the desire to bring smiles to the masses the owners decided to take their amazing sweet treats to the streets. From their vintage truck they sell their home made desserts with creative names and even more amazing ingredients like the “Hummingbird” a Southern-style treat made with bananas, pecans, pineapple and coconut. If the cake part of the cupcake isn't your thing you can even get a shot of frosting! I'm in love. They're working on some new gluten-free recipes so stay posted.
Cuisine – Home baked, fresh, fantastic Cup Cakes
Best Bet – “Red Velvet Jones”, as in “I'm jonesin' for it.” Ah-maz-ing.
Price Range – starts at $2
Gmonkey Truck (Hartford area)
Chef Mark Shadle and his wife Ami Beach Shadle are also part owners of It’s Only Natural a vegetarian restaurant in Middletown. Gmonkey's “farm2street” tag line aptly describes their philosophy and their cuisine. From their solar powered Shadle Farm in Durham, CT they are beginning to grow their own sustainable, organic produce which they use in their dishes and will eventually sell to the public. They source most of their ingredients locally and serve delectable organic, raw, vegan, and vegetarian dishes (many are also gluten free).
Cuisine – Hippie Haute Cuisine
Best Bet – “Feisty Monkey Peanut Soba Noodles” served cold over crisp organic field greens with cilantro house dressing
Price Range – $6 to $12
Parks – Thursdays at Billings Forge Farmers' Market in Hartford from 11am-2pm and the Durham Farmers' Market from 3pm-6:30pm. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter or call them at 860-759-8880 to confirm their location.