Eat Special Issue
Meals on Wheels
Baltimore’s food truck scene is small but steady rollin’
Published: March 7, 2012
If you live in Portland or San Francisco, you’re probably like, Food trucks, big deal. But if you live in Baltimore, you’re probably like, Food trucks! Kind of a big deal. Not that Charm City’s small fleet of motorized kitchens is so vast or varied (and it has, in fact, diminished already thanks to a few heading back to the garage for good: RIP Curbside Café and Creperie Breizh). But food trucks are a sign of two things any Baltimorean of good conscience is happy to encourage: 1) more interesting food options, and 2) more street life (the good kind). Standing in line at a truck parked just off some local thoroughfare with your fellow office workers, students, and passersby on a nice day makes the whole experience of just being on the street more appealing. And when the food’s good, win-win.
Another thing to like about food trucks: They give Luddites a good reason to embrace Twitter, where most of the trucks religiously tweet their daily locations, schedules, specials, etc. (Many of the trucks have weekly or monthly schedules posted on their web sites, but there are sometimes changes at the last minute, and Twitter is the best place to keep abreast.) The following are some of our faves, with their Twitter handles and web sites (if they have them). (Please note that the trucks tend to congregate where lots of people congregate, which is mostly around the general center of town—sorry, outlying neighborhoods.)
Cupcake truck. Need we say more.
We’re not 100 percent sure how to pronounce it either—the one time we asked, the answer came out kinda muffled. Nonetheless, GrrChe stands for “grilled cheese,” several varieties of which (gourmet to straight-up like-mom-makes) this rolling kitchen vends. Plus, of course, tomato soup.
Gypsy Queen Café
The folks behind the Gypsy Queen folded their esteemed fine-dining restaurant (RIP Helen’s Garden) and took to the streets, debuting perhaps the most eclectic food truck (crab cake tacos, a scoop of bacon and mac ‘n’ cheese served in a waffle cone) and one of the more successful (it even expanded to a second truck, the Lil’ Gypsy). And with its colorful paint job, it’s hard to miss.
The handle pretty much says it all. An early adopter on the truck scene, Kooper’s Tavern’s Chowhound roams the city serving up freshly prepared burgers of various stripes with almost whatever toppings you can imagine. If Twitter’s down, just use your nose to follow the sweet, sweet smell of patties on the grill.
Miss Shirley’s Café
The hottest breakfast/lunch/brunch spot in town has a mobile unit too, so you can grab some sweet potato fries or the bomb chicken and waffles without waiting in the usual Miss Shirley’s lines, or at least not as long.
The folks behind Souper Freaks went the opposite way of many food-truck folks recently, going from four wheels to bricks and mortar as the culinary force behind the revitalized Woman’s Industrial Kitchen. But the orange truck is still out there, plying patrons with great soups and desserts.
South Broadway near bank street
This food truck is not particularly new and definitely isn’t trendy, at least not on purpose. It’s been selling cheap, delicious, no-frills tacos daily on one curb or another along South Broadway in Fells Point for years now, and in addition to a good, cheap lunch on the go, it also serves up a reminder that food trucks were around before the current vogue and probably will be long after it’s passed.
The Wild Dog Cart
The free-standing hot dog cart is a staple of many a street corner in other cities; here not so much. The Wild Dog Cart’s enclosed trailer kitchen is doing its part to make that right by offering of Nathan’s beef franks all kinds of ways, including an Old Bay-spiked Baltimore dog.