For a city as on-the-go as New York, it only makes sense that food trucks—NYC’s meals-on-wheels once slinging simple fare like burgers, hot dogs and ice cream—have risen to the standards of Gotham’s hordes of hurried, but still discerning, diners. The new wave of food trucks serve pristine seafood, fresh-fried falafel and other sophisticated bites—and, best of all, most of these moderately priced plates qualify as cheap eats.
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Best food trucks in NYC
Formerly parked in tucked-away Mill Basin, Brooklyn, this serious burger truck quickly achieved a cult status among patty aficionados that has propelled it onward and upward to easier-to-access Williamsburg. Ground beef purist Andrew Zurica now slings his improbably juicy single-, double- and trile-stacked burgers from behind the Pfizer Building. Get 'em hot with free raw or grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles and jalapenos, or pony up an extra $1.25 for a helping of crisp bacon.
Fares “Freddy” Zeideia is a sort of local celebrity in Astoria, Queens, where he’s been doling out Vendy Award–winning falafel, shawarma and kebabs from his King of Falafel & Shawarma truck since the early aughts. His street-food standouts find their first brick-and-morta home at this 38-seat casual Middle Eastern spot, marked by a black awning that cheekily reads #YEAHHHHHBABY. While the Manhattan cart and Queens truck continue to operate seprately, the restaurant turns out crowd favorites like thinly sliced beef-and-lamb shawarma, as well as an expanded menu of newfangled creations such as daily baked pita bread and a falafel burger with zaatar and tomato.
From their Vendy Award–winning truck, husband-and-wife team Rafael Soler and Reina Bermudez have been serving cheese, meat and veggie pupusas with all the fixins—pickled jalapeños, tomato sauce and coleslaw—since 1998. Grab their acclaimed Salvadoran-style grub at the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg markets every weekend year-round, and at the Red Hook Ball Fields April through October.
This fleet of roving ice-cream sandwich trucks gained a cultish following in Los Angeles. The New York operation features most of the same baroque, artisanal flavors—including blueberry-ginger ice cream and red-velvet cookies—and sizing options. Choose from one-story, two-story or skyscraper (five scoops and six cookies) versions. New to this outfit: hot toppings (like sea salt caramel and Mexican chocolate sauces) and iced Blue Bottle coffee.
Onetime Good Humor man Ben Van Leeuwen partnered with his brother Pete and Laura O'Neill to open this classic ice cream truck, based at the corner of Greene and Prince Streets (two other roving vans sit at Bleecker and Perry Streets in the West Village, and Bedford Ave and North 8th Street in Williamsburg). Local, hormone-free milk is in the custard base, and even the most elemental flavors sport a flourish: Chocolate contains Michel Cluizel cocoa, and vanilla is made using the brothers’ own bourbon-and–Tahitian-bean extract, aged for four months in vodka-filled oak barrels.
The popular Middle Eastern takeout shop, run by wife-husband team Einat Admony and Stefan Nafziger, takes its famed falafel show on the road. Nab best-selling items from the brick-and-mortar location, like the traditional green falafel and the date-lime banana smoothie, plus tabouli flecked with plenty of peppery chopped parsley.
Late-night tummy fillers (Philly cheese steak, gyros) and Mexican staples (burritos, quesadillas) are given an artisanal touch at this taco truck—which started as a street cart selling tamales—where handmade corn tortillas are piled with your choice of chorizo, salted beef or chicken, along with cilantro, onions and tomato.
Sure, the name isn’t that conducive for a spur-of-the-moment iPhone search, but Mysttik hits the spot if you're looking for a filling biryani (rice bowl) with veggies or chicken. Add some naan, and top it off with cilantro, hot sauce or yogurt garnish. Other dishes include chicken tikka or chickpea masala, gobi aloo (potato and cabbage in cumin) and chicken lazeeza (garlic, onion and tomato).
Anton Yelyashkevich, the young chef-owner of this popular West Village truck, crafts the small Russian dumplings known as pelmeni. His version boasts sturdy but tender skins that may come stuffed with a juicy mix of ground pork, beef and onions (Siberian), chicken or smooth mashed potatoes. All get a brief griddle post-boiling, plus liberal squirts of sour cream and a shower of dill and chives. Plus, you get a free snappy pickle with each order.
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This restaurant puts a twist on the traditional steakhouse experience. Each floor of the three-story West Village townhouse serves a unique purpose: There’s a main dining room, lounge and private dining room. Settle in at the marble bar downstairs for a drink. You might try the Whoa Nelly with white rum, pistachio orgeat, lime, salt and nutmeg or the non-alcoholic Ginger Maple Buck with ginger, lime, maple and sparkling water. For dinner, start with something from the raw bar: Fresh oysters, little neck clams or the chef’s signature 1.5-pound lobster cocktail might do the trick. The menu also offers salads like one with crab and avocado and other classic appetizers like French onion soup and pan-fried calamari. Carnivores can choose from one of the many cuts of steak—filet mignon, porterhouse, bone-in strip and so on—or opt for other meats like a five-spice duck breast or double rack of veal with your choice of sauce (bearnaise, au poivre, oscar or roquefort). Other mains include grilled yellowfin tuna, gnocchi lobster bolognese and farm-raised salmon. Round out the meal with a side of truffle fries, Brussels sprouts with bacon or creamed spinach.