Cheap Eats: Moveable Feasts

For hungry folks on the go, food trucks offer more variety than ever.

Aroy-D The Thai Elephant Truck
Photo by Laura Moss.

Drunken noodles (beef, chicken or vegetarian, $8) is the go-to dish, though delicious and bargain-priced pad Thai, dumplings, fried rice and a custardy dessert are usually available, too. Especially welcome are the heat options from “not spicy” to “triple dog dare.” For soothing relief, order a creamy-sweet Thai iced tea ($2). 201-474-5432

CINNAMON SNAIL (Red Bank, Hoboken)

No disrespect to the Gouchujang Burger Deluxe—a vegan burger with Korean hot pepper paste, sautéed kimchi, pickled daikon and leeks and sriracha mayo on grilled focaccia ($10). It is delicious. But the best reason to track down the Snail is the “snails” ($3) themselves. These generous roll-ups of iced, cinnamony goodness belie everything you thought you knew about vegan pastries.

THE FRENCH QUARTER FOOD TRUCK (Montclair, Parsippany, Hoboken)
Bloomfield native Jason Cervone’s grandparents hailed from New Orleans, and he worked at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant after graduating from the CIA. His jambalaya ($5.75, 12 ozs), gumbo, po’ boys and beignets would pass muster in the real French Quarter.

You needn’t wear a hard hat to appreciate Aaron Rosenzweig’s stuffed baked potatoes. In fact, since launching last year, he has discovered that his menu appeals to a different demographic altogether: “Healthy girls,” he calls them. The veggie-minded like the Leave-In Lane ($7), a twice-baked potato stuffed with seasonal veggies and cheddar jack. The Border Run ($8) is spicy ground beef with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheddar jack in a tater instead of a taco shell.

OINK & MOO BBQ (Central Jersey)
Selecting traits and techniques from the styles of Texas, Memphis, North Carolina and even Hawaii, Josh Sacks creates his own barbecue fusion. On his truck he smokes high-quality cuts in the low-and-slow tradition. The result? Buttery baby-back ribs ($9), delicious brisket sliders ($9) and pulled-pork-and-brisket chili ($6)., 732-261-6285

RU HUNGRY? (New Brunswick)
Arguably the most beloved of the Rutgers grease trucks, which specialize in Fat Sandwiches like the Fat Darrell—an incredible hulk of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, French fries and marinara on a hoagie roll. It is named for Darrell Butler, who requested it from a vendor while a student at Rutgers in the 1990s. RU Hungry? sells roughly 40 types of Fat Sandwiches ($6-$7), most named for the students who dreamed them up. Hamilton Street and College Avenue, 732-246-2177,

PIZZA VITA (various)
Our readers voted the pizza at the brick-and-mortar location in Summit the state’s best last year. The truck, on the road seven days a week from April through November, sells wood-fired pies at farmers’ markets, street fairs and private parties. Ten bucks buys a smallish, six-slice Jersey Boy (tomato, mozzarella and sausage) or a classic Margherita. or call the restaurant, 908-277-1400

SOUPERVAN (New Brunswick)
Carnivores may balk at the lack of meat options (most soups, wraps and the chili are vegan or vegetarian), but everything is full flavored and made primarily with ingredients from the Student Sustainable Farm at Rutgers. And you can feel good about what you slurp: For every $4, 12-ounce soup it sells, SouperVan makes a donation benefiting Elijah’s Promise, the New Brunswick-based soup kitchen.

THE TACO TRUCK (Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark)
Jason Scott and Chris Viola’s mobile Mexican hot spot hit the road in 2009 with menus by chef Paris Retana. They opened a brick-and-mortar place in Hoboken in 2010. The flame-orange truck still makes the rounds, serving up favorites like $4.50 carnitas tacos—slow-braised pork cooked with onion, garlic, spices, condensed milk and oranges—with your choice of toppings.

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