Melch’s Meat Wagon and Jake’s Street Grille
A lunchtime stroll down Marquette in downtown Minneapolis is a trip down meat lane. Most of the food trucks that idle there serve at least three or four different forms of juicy meat wrapped, rolled, and squashed between bits of pastry and bread. Acquiring your lunch on foot totally merits a bit of grease, right? We recently checked out two of these protein-rich trucks:
Jake’s Street Grille
If you’re looking for a variety of preparations, Jake’s Street Grille’s got them. The bright orange truck is the mobile version of Jake’s City Grille, a restaurant with locations in Maplewood, Eagan, and other suburbs. Jake’s features many of those sandwichy standbys typical of neighborhood grills.
We went for the lobster tacos ($12), two flour tortillas filled with a shrimp and lobster chop, gooey pepperjack cheese, and chunks of spinach. The little rolls were annoyingly flabby, but we liked the heady flavor of white wine and the accompanying guacamole. Ultimately, we preferred the Jakewings ($9 for 8), a staple on the City Grille menu as well. In terms of price and flavor, these chicken wings trump the tacos. They are juicy, tangy, and even better with blue cheese sauce.
In a quieter, outer ring of food truck land is Melch’s Meat Wagon (above left) on 2nd Ave., offering burgers and sandwiches. Kent and Brenda Melcher make no pretenses about the mission of their mobile restaurant: Meat is their thang, and their level of intensity might be measured by the Melch Me, a sandwich that poses a triple threat of beef, chicken, and bacon. Daily specials run the gamut from prime rib to alligator and goat, with sides like fries and baked potatoes. It’s a good idea to stick to the meat, though. Melch’s fried okra ($4 for a giant basket) is a nice meeting of crispy outer and succulent inner, but needs lots of salt and some sort of zippy dipping sauce to make it great.
When asked, the counter crew recommends the Cowboy Burger, a narrow tower of beef patty, pepperjack, barbecue sauce, and two crispy onion rings. The thick, slightly dry patty is saved by a buttery, toasted pretzel roll and the sweet drippings of barbecue sauce and salty bacon. It’s the kind of decadently delicious sandwich that’s almost embarrassing to eat in public. Good thing the shady stone steps of the Canadian Pacific Plaza are just a side step away.