Though it may seem odd to cover street food this late in the season, you should trust that we have our reasons. This surprised us as well: We couldn’t believe how many new street food operations have popped up since this summer. Some Twitter chatter about truck inspections also implies that more will be coming, and sooner than later. (Also see our master directory of Twin Cities street food.)
We recently checked out five newcomers: YumMi, Cave Cafe, Messy Giuseppe, Get Sauced, and Origins Coffee & Tea. (Due to circumstance or just ill luck, we’ve never been able to intersect with Scratch Food Truck. But may God hunt us all if we do not hunt it to the death!) The mercury may be falling swiftly, but many purveyors are going to be braving it as long as they can, in true hardcore Minnesotan fashion.
YumMi, run by culinary grad Hoa Nguyen and ex-corporate guy James Schanen, covers the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. They sell four variations with adorable monikers: the Korean-style beef Moo Mi ($8), sweet braised pork belly / shoulder Oink Mi ($7.50), five-spice chicken Peck Mi ($7), and lemongrass-soy-marinated tofu Bean Mi ($6.50). They shy away from tradition, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how much you love jalapenos and pate. Watch for seafood options and hot drinks as they plan to blast through the winter. Since their debut on October 13, they’ve camped out on Nicollet Mall & 11th St. in Minneapolis.
Ethiopian native Teddy Negash’s truck is all over St. Paul this month — we’ve spotted them outside MPR’s headquarters, in Rice Park, outside the St. Paul Police Department, and at Bandana Square. Negash has been hustling around the city to promote his “20 For East Africa” initiative, in which he has pledged to donate 20 percent of the truck’s profits to famine relief efforts.
Though the truck totes “Afro-Italian fusion” as its specialty, it seems to skew more toward Ethiopian food with some nods to American classics, such as burgers ($5.50) and Philly cheesesteaks ($6.50). We tried their chicken curry ($9), a decent mix of veggies and really tender chicken served over rice. Hands down, the best part of the dish was the herbed flatbread, which is also the medium for the truck’s wraps.
Messy G’s is the mobile offshoot of Cafe Zia in Roseville, serving up the mothership’s signature take on the Sloppy Joe in locations around St. Paul. The truck is pretty easy to spot — just look for the decal of a Pokemon-esque Italian man on its side. The truck’s offerings include the Messy Giuseppe (above, left), hot Italian beef (above, right), a hoagie, and their Ultimate Grilled Cheese (all $6). All said, their Messy Giuseppe definitely tastes worthy of a spin-off truck, with great seasoning and an utterly addictive, buttery bun.
Brought to you by the same guys who helm the hot dog cart at Lake Calhoun, Get Sauced features tacos ($7, in Asian or Mexican styles), barbeque meat sandwiches, and a revolving cast of other menu items. On a recent visit, we sampled a lobster roll (above, upper left; $10) with Mexican-influenced flavors, and a cob-free take on elote, or Mexican grilled corn (above, lower left; $4). A small quibble: The cooks’ bedside manner could use a little work, but we understand how cooks can be sometimes. With its garish, graffiti-inspired paint job, the truck is easy to spot from afar. But just so you know, they’ve been at Marquette Ave. between 7th and 8th streets pretty regularly.
Origins Coffee & Tea
Deep in Starbucks, Dunn Bros., and Caribou territory, Joseph Struyk’s cart is an island of good cheer and craft drink slinging. The menu is simple — just drinks — though that encompasses a wide selection. He uses beans from Dogwood Coffee, cocoa from Valrhona, and local milk to make some of the best coffee drinks in the metro, without the fanatical attitude that tends to alienate people at other coffee shops. Minneapolis is lucky to have Struyk out on the pavement, and we highly encourage you to stop by his cart, which is always at Nicollet Mall and 5th St.
With additional reporting by Emily Schnobrich.