Eat Your Way Through Summer
What to grill, where to drink, how to cook farmers' market finds, and more!
(page 6 of 7)
Summer's Best Pie
Rustic Inn: Raspberry Cream Cheese
New Scenic Cafe: Triple Berry
Turtle Bread: Blackberry Peach
Smiling Pelican: Coconut Cream
Stockholm Pie Shop: Peanut Butter Fudge
Inside the food-truck phenomenon
On a cool spring morning, Cody Allen negotiates downtown Minneapolis in his food truck, the House of Hunger (known as the Twisted Sister House of Hunger until a cease-and-desist letter from the hair-metal band prompted Allen to scrape off half the truck’s vinyl lettering). Most weekdays, he’s down here slinging deep-fried hot dogs and Philly sandwiches. But first, he needs a parking spot.
Legalized four years ago, Twin Cities food trucks now number in the 70s. Without the variables of décor, ambiance, and service, they compete on quality and the bells and whistles of self-promotion—if not actual bells and whistles (Minneapolis municipal code title 10, article 185.485, section f, subsection 6: “No mobile food vehicle vendor shall use or maintain any outside sound amplifying equipment….such as bells, horns, or whistles”).
Most important, though, is location, location, location, meaning just three streets: Marquette, Marquette, Marquette. “Want some entertainment?” asks Lisa Carlson, co-owner of the Chef Shack, her truck idling at Sixth Street and Marquette Avenue. “Come down on a 70-degree morning at 9 a.m. and watch all the food trucks trying to parallel park. It’s hilarious.” The earliest a vehicle can park on Marquette is 9 a.m. At 8:55 a.m., there can be more than a dozen trucks circling the area like sharks. The best guarantee of food-truck success, it seems, is a reliable alarm clock.
Today, Chef Shack has locked down a premium spot usually occupied by the Smack Shack, whose truck is still in winter hibernation. The politics of food trucks don’t allow for calling dibs. But a block to the south, Allen and his crew take notice. “Who is that in Smack Shack’s spot?” asks DaShawn Coleman, a fry cook. Allen squints and murmurs, “You know who that is. It’s Chef Shack.” They raise their eyebrows and share a knowing look. Did Chef Shack betray some unwritten food truck code? “Well….” Allen says, considering his words. “I guess not. We wouldn’t do well down there anyway. It has something to do with the kind of food we serve. It just works better up here. It’s amazing the difference a block makes.”