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Street critique: Reviews of four new food trucks

We caught up with Southern Mac, Tamalli Space Charros and two more trucks to see what they’re cooking.

 (Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay)
1/5
Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay

Tamalli Space Charros

 (Photograph: Nicole Radja; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay)
2/5
Photograph: Nicole Radja; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay
 (Photograph: Erica Gannett; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay)
3/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay

5411 Empanadas

 (Photograph: Erica Gannett; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay)
4/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay

Sweet Ride whoopie pie

 (Photograph: Erica Gannett; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay)
5/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett; Imaging: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay

Sweet Ride cake pops

1. Tamalli Space Charros
Found:
Monday 11:45am, on Wells between Monroe and Adams
Conditions:
Overcast
Line:
Two deep
The Tamale Spaceship—part performance art, part Mexican truck—had been parked for only 20 minutes, yet it was already out of steak tamales. No sweat: The pork and chicken ones ($7/two of the same kind) were moist and perfectly serviceable, and the tortilla soup ($4)—spicy, with crunchy chip strips—was the best thing I’ve yet to eat off a moving vehicle in Chicago, not to mention the finest soup proffered by a masked stranger. twitter.com/tamalespaceship. —Julia Kramer

2. The Southern Mac
Found: Monday noon, on Wacker just north of Adams
Conditions:
Temperate
Line:
Three deep
Cary Taylor’s macaroni and cheese is served in big portions (which partly explains the $8–$9 price tag) and the flavors are eminently approachable; even the sundried-tomato-and-caramelized-onion variety has enough cheesiness that a kid would love it. But though the food is filling and satisfying, the only truly exciting thing about my experience was receiving a free drink token to Taylor’s actual restaurant, the Southern. twitter.com/thesouthernmac.—Julia Kramer

3. 5411 Empanadas
Found: Friday 12:20pm, on Columbus near Randolph
Conditions:
Sunny yet cool
Line:
20+ deep
How strong is the magnetism of empanadas? Strong enough that people like me were willing to wait 15 minutes for a selection of six savory, decently flaky (though not as flaky as they might have been if fried, which these are not) pastries ($1.99 each) . The beef with olives was the winner for me; the ham-and-cheese was a close second. They both could have been bigger, though—as they are now, these are snacks, not meals. twitter.com/5411empanadas.—David Tamarkin

4. Sweet Ride
Found: Tuesday 1:15pm, on Kinzie near Wells
Conditions:
Overcast, chilly
Line:
Nonexistent
The only thing cuter than Sweet Ride’s petite, fire-pink truck is its baseball-sized whoopie pie ($3)—two small rounds of moist chocolate cake filled with a tangy cream-cheese icing. Among the truck’s other cake offerings (cute, moist but otherwise unremarkable mini cupcakes; underbaked, fondant-encased “cakepops”), the pies prevail. Just as satisfying: The vanilla pudding layered with ripe (perhaps overripe) bananas. twitter.com/sweetridechi.—David Tamarkin

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