Midwest Food Truck Finds
Ready for a cheap lunch that shows off some foodie flair? Then get out your phone (or pop open your laptop) to find our favorite Midwest food trucks. Spicy ethnic dishes, farm-fresh veggies and sweet treats are just a click away.
Hundreds of these trucks share tacos, crepes, pizzas, loaded mac 'n' cheese and seasonal specialties from brightly painted setups that wander like nomads throughout Midwest cities. The mostly seasonal trucks evoke the casual ease of roadside fruit stands—no dress codes, no wait for a table and a perfect chance to chat up the chefs about ingredients.
Food trucks can be unpredictable, setting up on this corner on Tuesday, in that park on Thursday. But most keep their fans in the know by posting their schedules on websites, or updating their whereabouts on Facebook or Twitter.
For truck fans, walking along unexplored city streets or through a favorite park to find it is as much a part of the dining experience as the actual food. The dishes are fast food, but the chefs behind the wheel hope you'll savor your meal slowly.
Click ahead for 14 fabulous rolling cafes. Pictured: Owner Izzy Schachner dishes pot roast and roasted mashed potatoes from his StrEat Mobile Bistro in Cleveland.
Truck lunches to try
Check out the food truck stars on this and the following two slides. Nearly all the food trucks have Facebook pages, too.
Fast Foodie, Milwaukee (pictured) Global tacos—or, to use the chef's parlance, globacos—stuff the best flavors from Jamaican, Puerto Rican or even Greek food into the tasty confines of a soft tortilla. Paired with homemade potato chips, it's a world tour without ever leaving Wisconsin. (414) 477-8521; thefastfoodieonline.com
Hummingbird Kitchen, Evanston, Illinois The menu at this Chicago-area truck isn't huge—just two sandwiches plus a salad and fries. But the lamb sandwich with sauteed escarole and sweet caramelized onions is tender, flavorful and worth the trek. (847) 475-6680; hummingbirdkitchen.com
Duos Food Truck, Indianapolis Owned by an omnivore-vegetarian team, Duos offers a creative, changing menu balancing meaty and vegetarian/vegan dishes. We love a tangy broccoli-feta pie and a tender lamb gyro. (317) 508-8614; duosindy.com
Dandelion, Madison, Wisconsin Trust us on Dandelion's baked tofu sandwich. One look at this two-hands-required monster stuffed with colorful veggies, and the bland name won't matter. Leave room for the homemade peanut butter cup for dessert. facebook.com/dandelionfoodcart
Chef Shack, Minneapolis An ever-changing menu uses seasonal, organic and local ingredients and brings high-end gastronomy to the streets. The smoky pulled pork nachos and sweet Indian-spiced mini doughnuts come in portions large enough to share, but you won't want to. (507) 358-4220; chefshack.org
A world of flavors
Mojo TaGo, Columbus, Ohio (pictured) A rainbow-hue truck sells amazing made-to-order tacos and made-from-scratch tortilla chips. The taco filling and salsa offerings change daily, depending on what looked best on the morning market run. (614) 961-6656; mojotago.com
Satellite Crepes, Milwaukee Dirk Werderich pours a pool of batter, and it sizzles furiously. The fillings come flying: shreds of mozzarella; slices of juicy, red tomato; bright green leaves of basil; and a spritz of garlicky oil, all landing on the cooked crepe in a Jackson Pollock-like jumble. A few flips of a spatula, and the mess folds into a tidy, golden triangle, crispy along the edges and soft in the middle. (414) 807-2320; satellitecrepes.com
Mark's Carts, Ann Arbor, Michigan A garden-lined courtyard houses a collection of eight carts. The hours vary, but lunch- and dinnertime are safe bets. You'll find gourmet grilled cheese, wood-fired pizza, Indian food, Tex-Mex, vegan options and paella. Try San Street's steamed pork buns. markscartsannarbor.com
The Rolling Stonebaker, Beverly Shores, Indiana Wood-fired pizzas served from a vintage Studebaker fire truck satisfy hungry diners near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Our fave? The 'Choke-and-'Shroom Pizza. (219) 246-0068; rollingstonebaker.com
5411 Empanada, Chicago The line outside the baby blue truck doesn't lie: The baked pockets of flaky pastry, filled with ham and cheese or Nutella and bananas, are irresistible. (312) 972-5411; 5411empanadas.com
More top picks
Pi on the Spot, St. Louis (pictured) It seems like heresy: four types of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in a town known for thin crust. But you won't be able to resist the cornmeal crust with toppings, cheese and sauce piled on, in that order. pi-pizza.com
The Southern Mac and Cheese Truck, Chicago As if mac and cheese wasn't delectable enough, this truck sells pasta loaded with toppings. Try the truffle white cheddar or the Mexican chorizo with pepper Jack cheese. thesouthernmac.com
C-Town Chow Down, Cleveland One Saturday each month, several of the city's food trucks swarm to a single location, creating a buffet of incredible variety. Visitors might find dim sum, barbecue, Moroccan stew or cupcakes. facebook.com/ctownchowdown
Dim and Den Sum, Cleveland Get to this truck early for the best selection; even then, expect to wait a while in line for the signature PBLT, a dumpling made with pulled pork, bacon, lettuce, tomato and spicy sriracha. (216) 771-4000; dimanddensum.com
Midwest Living® tip: If you don't want to chase a food truck, plan to visit when a bunch of them park together. Cleveland, Kansas City and Ann Arbor, Michigan, all have one-stop grazing.