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Jul 15, 2010 09:29 PM

Twin Cities street food

There are one or two posts on street food in St Paul here, and I've found a few articles elsewhere about a specific truck or two, but I can't find anything that's even close to a comprehensive list of the street food scene that's starting to develop around the twin cities. Does anyone know of a list of food trucks, or restaurants that also do street food? I'm looking mostly at the more fancy-ish food, as opposed to the many "roach coaches" that still exist.

Anyone know of a list or site?

If not, what trucks/restaurants are you aware of? I know of Chef Shack, Barrio, 128, She Royal, and Foxy.

What other good food vendors are on our streets?

Chef Shack
No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

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  1. The best "comprehensive list" that I've found so far is TC Street Food on twitter.

    But there's not a lot to choose from. You named all but one of the big names (the ones I know about, anyway). The only one that's missing is The Magic Bus. Oh, and Meritage has a crepe stand in front of their restaurant on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Me, I've never seen the Barrio Taco truck - I think it's a myth. They certainly don't seem to have a regular beat.

    So what non-fancy "roach coaches" do you know about? Me, I love that kind of food, but I didn't realize that the Twin Cities has more than one or two. I know about the taco truck in front of Target on University Avenue (food is good, not great). Any others?


    410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    8 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      I've been craving the Al Pastor Tacos from the Border Taco Truck that hangs around Target and University, but alas I haven't seen it once this year.

      1. re: Fudist

        There is a Taco truck parked in the parking lot of Bally's Health Club on University east of Target most of the time. I don't remember the name, it might be the Border Truck. There is also some sort of BBQ Truck in that area .

        1. re: ibew292

          There is some good food at the Midtown Farmer's Market........Dandelion Kitchen is creative and very good stuff. The woodfired oven pizza there is also very popular. Saw Taco Taxi set up there today too. I like the Cafe Nepal at the Mill City Market. too.

          I'm including Farmer's markets because they are outside, on the street, as it were. I recommend working your way through the food at Midtown, Mill City and Kingfield markets, then report back!

          1. re: faith

            Thanks Faith. I haven't been including farmers markets, although you're right, it does fit the definition - food on the street. For my own selfish reasons, I'm mostly interested in vendors that drive around the cities vending during the week.

            I'll follow Dandelion. I can't find sites for the others you mentioned. But I'll keep an eye out for them


            1. re: faith

              Yesterday morning I had the soft shell crab sammie with ramp aioli from the Chef Shack at the Mill City Market. Fabulous. Added a few homemade pickled banana peppers (they have a nice assortment of pickled vege's, including cucumber, kohlrabi, onions, radishes, beets, and cabbage) for a perfect brunch. Friend had the sweet potato tacos, said they were yummie - sweet with a bit of heat. Love The Shack.

              Mill City Cafe
              2205 California St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

              Chef Shack
              No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

          2. re: Fudist

            Border Taco has been around on University by Target most times I have driven by this summer, around lunch time.

          3. re: AnneInMpls

            Hi Anne.

            That tcstreetfood is actually a twitter account that I just set up to help me track what trucks are serving where. If I'm the authoritative source, we're in trouble. :)

            I have definitely seen the Barrio truck this year, although only at events like rock shows at the Xcel. I haven't seen it our for lunch anywhere.

            I live around a few industrial factories, so I see those roach coaches all the time. They have the pre-packaged sandwiches you get at gas stations. Not at all what I'm looking for.

            Been meaning to try the taco truck on University. It's totally out of my way, so I haven't gotten to it, but I still want to try. Even if it's not great.

            Thanks for the reply!

            1. re: ochenk

              I remember seeing a taco truck last summer at a gas station parking lot on Maryland just east of 35E, did not
              try it yet, somebody on another topic thought this may be operated by one of the Mexican restaurants on Arcade.
              Any body see a truck this year in that area?
              Also have seen a roasted corn cart on the week ends in the parking lot in front of the Mexican bakery on Whitebear
              a few blocks south of Larpenter.

          4. If you want a good sampling of food from the Minneapois trucks, check out the Uptown Market. It's on Sundays from 11AM-5PM one block north of Lake Street, running between Lyndale and Ewing. The Magic Bus, Chef Shack, the Ethiopian Food Truck Whose Name I don't Remember, and others are all there: http://www.uptownmarket.org

            Chef Shack
            No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

            5 Replies
            1. re: Danny

              Just to clarify, it's between Lyndale and Dupont (Ewing is in the next street alphabet which would make this market stretch almost to St. Louis Park - not that I'd mind that except there's no 29th street for much of that stretch).

              1. re: MplsM ary

                You're right, I'm a doofus. Thanks for clarifying.

              2. re: Danny

                Hey Danny,

                I went to the Uptown Market yesterday. I saw: Chef Shack, Dandelion Kitchen, Foxy Falafel, Magic Bus, She Royal, and Go Green Bean.

                What's the Ethiopian truck? I'm so intrigued!

                Chef Shack
                No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

                1. re: ochenk

                  She Royal is the Ethiopian Truck.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Ah. I thought She Royal was only coffee. I'll have to look closer next time.


              3. Hopefully, many more coming soon. Minneapolis passed an ordinance a couple of months ago allowing for up to 15 food trucks, but there has been ongoing dispute over where they are going to be allowed to park. Thus, not many permits have been approved yet. I think there was more on all of this on the board a little while back. Anyway, once the powers-that-be figure out the logistics, we should be seeing Barrio, Foxy, She, the Chef Shack ladies, and many others. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it happens before the end of summer. Would love more downtown lunch options.

                Chef Shack
                No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

                1. I think we've hit most of them, but here's my twitter feed for Food Trucks
                  (Please, keep in mind that I'm St Paul focused).


                  I saw another truck parked outside Rice Park last Thursday but neglected to remember the name. it was yellow and had the url listed outside. I'll try to catch it again.

                  I'm so happy with this upsurge of street food and am making a point of eating at one once a week (the most I can do) to support them.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Uisge

                    To be honest I am very disappointed with Downtown Minneapolis' street food scene. Summer is just about over and there are only 2 options...Chef Shack and Sheroyal. What happened?

                    1. re: kriminalrat

                      To be fair, the city only started allowing street food about a month ago. And it wasn't a smooth process. They are still getting their legs under them.

                      1. re: Uisge

                        Yep, Uisge's correct. And right now, the street food scene seems to be growing mostly around markets. At any farmers market, there's at least two or three, and sometimes a half-dozen or more.

                        At Uptown market last weekend, there was Foxy Falafel, Dandelion Kitchen, She Royal, Magic Bus, and Chef Shack. At Midtown on Tuesday, there was Magic Bus, Dandelion, and Crazy Puppy. For lunch, I ate at the 128 Cafe truck. Tonight driving home down University, I found a new truck - a soul food truck.

                        It's getting there. And it will get there even faster if we support the small community that is out there trying right now.

                      2. re: kriminalrat

                        To be honest, I've been disappointed by the kinds of street food trucks that have sprouted. If I wanted Zucchini Blossom quesadillas, I wouldn't be getting it at a truck - Chef Shack or not. Maybe it's because I spend 13 years in Philadelphia, where I had about 2000 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at trucks, none of which cost more than $5, with a drink. Egg sandwiches, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, and lo mein: Yes. But an $8 burger? I don't care if it's Thousand Hills - I don't want to eat an $8 burger walking down the street off a paper plate.

                        I was hoping for more of the non-fancy, traditional kind of street food one typically finds on the street. More Border Taco, less watermelon gazpacho. (Don't get me wrong, I would enjoy both watermelon gazpacho and zucchini blossom quesadillas, just not in a styrofoam cup or paper plate).

                        I'm just not sure where along the line street food morphed from the stuff you get for cheap and eat while walking, to the stuff that is normally enjoyed at a restaurant over a leisurely meal. So I street food with foldable slices of pizza and hot dogs. Not with beef tongue tacos. Does everything have to be foodie- or hipster-ized? Even street food isn't safe?

                        Chef Shack
                        No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

                        1. re: foreverhungry

                          I was with you, foreverhungry, until I got to the part about "not with beef tongue tacos". Beef tongue tacos are classic street food, along with many other varieties of tacos. Beef tongue isn't really that gourmet, in my mind, it's just using up the entire animal.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            i love a good beef tongue taco, it's one of my favorite comfort foods. i do not love chef shack's beef tongue taco. at all. there, i said it.

                            i do want to try sheroyal. anybody have more food reviews/sightings of this truck?

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              SheRoyal spotted at Mears Park DT St. Paul today. Not sure whether it's a regular thing.

                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Good point. I erred on using beef tongue tacos as an example. In many cultures, they are symbolic of street food. In the US, not so much. But I agree with you - it was a poor example.

                      3. There is still a lot of unauthorized street food in Minneapolis, just like there always has. I saw a big grill on a trailer set up at 32nd and Nicollet yesterday. It looked like they were doing grilled chicken. 38th and Nicollet has the woman who sells a couple different Mexican treats including those tasty fried things (chips made from flour?) with chili and lime and fruit cups with chili an lime. Soon there will be elote and other tasty treats to be found throughout the city. All without a food truck or license.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: churchka

                          anyone who whines about Chef Shack deserves to be............'forever hungry' . ok, forever, you did get my back up a bit, I lived in Philly for a decade and I bet you anything the prices are up on that $5 with drink memory of yours, unless maybe it's a hot dog or a single taco...

                          Chef Shack does some killer fries, is it going to be a problem if they are hand cut? And would you rather have a Sysco burger from them? Really? Dandelion Kitchen's stuff is mostly around $5 but might be too fancy for your tastes. I don't really get the complaint.

                          Chef Shack
                          No formal address, Minneapolis, MN

                          1. re: faith

                            I think what Foreverhungy is saying is that some of these food trucks are bastardizing street food and the ethos associated with it. And I agree. Sorry Barrio taco truck I'm not paying 4 bucks for a freaking taco. EVERYTHING doesn't have to be organic or sourced locally or grass fed. EVERYTHING doesn't have to be fancy schmancy gourmet.

                            1. re: Fudist

                              Yes, maybe Fudist put it a better way than I did originally. Street food (to me, anyway) is meant to be cheap and fast. That doesn't mean Sysco quality, though. Many of the food trucks I went to in Philly (mostly around the Drexel and UPenn campuses) made food that was inexpensive (sure, probably more expensive now than 10 years ago), but still darned good. As Fudist said, it had the street food "ethos".

                              Hey, to each their own. But if I want 112 Eatery quality food, I'll plunk down the $50, have a tablecloth, and take 90 minutes to enjoy my meal. When I need food on the go, I'll look for something cheap and fast, that's easy to enjoy, and that I don't care if it's locally sourced or organic. And that certainly doesn't mean McD's type. But it does mean a cheesesteak from Sophie's truck on the Drexel campus when I'm in Philly.

                              Finally, what bugs me about it is that it's hijacking what was meant to be cheap and simple, and substituting nothing more than a money-making gambit on folks willing to spend $8 - $10 on a lunch because it uses words like "locally sourced" and "organic", even though most of those folks wouldn't know a zucchini blossom from a daffodil, or a duck liver from Spam. But maybe that's just the cynic in me.

                              112 Eatery
                              112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                In Philly, does the annual fee for a street vendor cost $1000 like Minneapolis, or closer to $244 like St. Paul? How much is the application fee just to get a license? How much does it cost to rent a parking space there? Must the vendors have a presence 180 days a year, even if they don't get their license before mid-June?

                                The cynic in ME has nothing to say about the current vendors hijacking what was meant to be cheap food. It asks instead how anyone expects them to do otherwise, given the gambit that the City of Minneapolis is playing out right now?

                                Look at the bureaucratic and finanical threshold that has to be overcome to get a street vendor presence in downtown Minneapolis, particularly in the first year of the city's ordinance. Anyone who's going to take that on needs a serious cushion to make it through this season.

                                And if I'm Barrio or 112 Eatery or anyplace else, I'm not putting my name on a street food outlet if the wares are radically different from what I serve at the restaurant with my name on it -- why risk the cushion that I need to do the street food in the first place?

                                People in search of cheap food need to look where the cheap vendors can afford to operate on the economic margins their cheap clientele can afford to give them. It'll be some time before they find it in downtown Minneapolis.

                                112 Eatery
                                112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                1. re: KTFoley

                                  I completely agree that the economics were set up differently in MPLS, and definitely stacked towards one direction. I don't know what the license cost is in Philly, but as for the presence, all the trucks I was familiar with were there 5 days a week, all year. So yes, they met the 180 day threshold. And from what I understand, many restaurants in MPLS were very concerned that food trucks don't have the overhead that brick and mortar restaurants do - perhaps the downtown restaurants lobbied MPLS to have a high license fee that only they could afford, thus pricing out any competition?

                                  I wasn't separating out MPLS food trucks from ones in STP. In fact, I work in downtown St. Paul, and was specifically thinking of food trucks in that area (such as the one serving zucchini blossoms today).

                                  Again, when I think food truck, I think of the mom and pop that run that truck, 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, and serve good quality food, that's not pretentious, that's reasonably priced, and that meets the "ethos" of street food. I don't think of trucks run by top restaurants, whose menus have been crafted by award winning chefs, and who have a huge slush fund in the restaurant. In essence, are Barrio or 112 using the food truck to make money and earn a living (like the mom and pops in other cities, or the illegal trucks in MSP), or are they using it as subsidized advertising for their restaurants?

                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                    Is street food elsewhere really higher than Sysco quality? Somehow I find that very doubtful. I wonder if your ideas of what street food should be might have more to do with what's comfort food to you. I'd far prefer to have locally/sustainably sourced, interesting street food. I don't see what's pretentious about that at all. Why should street food be so predictable? It's not like there's a shortage of hotdogs and tacos around here. You can call me a foodie or a hipster if you want, but outside of backyard grilling and a ball game, I'll take zucchini blossoms over a hotdog everytime.

                                    1. re: LiaM

                                      I think it certainly can be, though like with restaurants it can be hit or miss. I know in Madison there were regularly about a half dozen food carts operating during the lunch hour on library mall. At least one of them I still remember very fondly. An Ethiopian restaurant, Buraka, had a cart and from what I could tell, it was the same tasty food and injera that you'd get in the restaurant, but in smaller portions in to go containers. I also remember a few asian food carts that, while not fantastic, were very solid for stir frys and spring rolls. There was also a fried food cart that only set up at night on the fraternity row and I'd guess that they fell more under the Sysco quality category from the smell, but you don't need much more if you're only marketing to hungry, drunk college students.