You can really work up an appetite running around town with a stroller and a diaper bag the size of Jupiter. When you’re on the go with the family, grab a treat from a food truck. There are dozens making names for themselves around town, hawking everything from cupcakes to tamales. We looked into how they roll and picked eight favorites that both grownups and kids love.
The Tamale Spaceship
What’s better than an authentic Mexican food truck? How about an authentic Mexican food truck operated by servers wearing sombreros and wrestling masks inspired by Luche Libre? That’s what you get from this option that dishes favorites like Space Guacomole and Tamal a la Plaza (a blend of roasted potato, carrots, mushrooms and cojita cheese tamal with tomato guajillo sauce). The Tamale Spaceship can be found throughout the Loop. Check the schedule online at www.thetamalespaceship.com or follow it on Twitter (@tamalespace101).
We’re flipping out about these inventive, gourmet takes on flapjacks. For the sweet tooth, there are choices like Deep Fried Twinkie, S’mores and Cotton Candy. If you don’t want to go straight to dessert, order the Grilled Cheese, Chipotle Chicken Tamale or Chorizo Tri-Pepper varieties. The Babycakes truck can be found anywhere from University of Chicago for breakfast to the Theatre District for lunch. Check out the schedule online at www.babycakestruck.com or follow it on Twitter (@babycakestruck).
The Slide Ride
Voted one of 101 best food trucks in America in 2012 by The Daily Meal, The Slide Ride is a picnic waiting to happen. Its menu of sliders includes the flagship Bacon Baby Burger that’s loaded with cheddar cheese, Angus beef and brown sugar bacon. Lighter appetites will appreciate the Caprese featuring sugar-cured tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella and balsamic glaze on a ciabetta bun. Grab sea salt or sweet potato chips on the side, and you’re good to go. The Slide Ride is usually found in the Loop or near University of Chicago; check the schedule online at www.theslideride.com or it follow on Twitter (@theslideride).
Brothers Alexis and Teddy Vejar helped with their family’s food truck in Mexico. Fortunately for us, starting one in Chicago seemed fitting. The menu is inspired by the brothers’ culinary road trips on which they learned all about their homeland’s cuisine. Kids love the make-your-own tacos with fresh corn, summer squash, zucchini and toppings like queso fresco and Mexican crema. You can usually catch La Adelita in the Loop or Hyde Park. Go online to www.adelitatruck.com for schedule info or follow it on Twitter (@adelitatruck).
The Southern Mac & Cheese Truck
From one of Chicago’s favorite restaurants, The Southern, Executive Chef Cary Taylor puts a creative spin on mac ‘n’ cheese and sends it out on the road. Grab a classic mac or choose a beefed-up option like Pulled Pork with Barbecue sauce, Artichoke and Spinach, Chorizo and Roasted Poblano with Pepperjack, Fried Chicken with Blue Cheese, or Smoked Ham and Cheddar. The Southern Mac & Cheese Truck can usually be found throughout the Loop (particularly Cityfront Plaza) and in Hyde Park. Get more details on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thesouthernmac or follow it on Twitter (@thesouthernmac).
This truck was inspired by owner Tiffany Kurtz’s childhood love of ice cream trucks and the lure of the music as they approach on a hot summer day. You’ll get the same joy when Flirty Cupcakes pulls up, tempting you with cupcakes in flavors like Oreo Cookie, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, and Curious George (a banana-chocolate cupcake topped with a salted caramel Italian buttercream). Find out where it’s going online at www.flirtycupcakes.com or follow it on Twitter (@flirtycupcakes). You can also check out their Dessert Garage at 1030 W. Taylor St.
Starfruit gives frozen yogurt an even healthier update by using Lifeway Kefir instead of frozen yogurt (the probiotic-loaded treat is said to help fight lactose intolerance and boost immunity). Load up on toppings like Fruity Pebbles, Captain Crunch, Butterfinger and Oreos, or keep it healthy with walnuts, yogurt chips, Kashi Crunch cereal, goji berries or granola. Starfruit can be found throughout the Loop. Check it out online at www.starfruitcafe.com or follow it on Twitter (@Starfruit Cafe).
Sweet Miss Giving’s
You can feel good about this indulgence. The truck sells cupcakes, biscottis and cookies, and dedicates a portion of proceeds to providing jobs for people with disabilities and helping homeless men, women and children throughout Chicago. With Cherry Hazlenut biscotti and Red Velvet cupcakes up for grabs, giving back never tasted so good. Look for the truck throughout the Loop. You can keep up with the whereabouts by going online to www.littlemissmuffin.com or following it on Twitter (@smgfoodtruck).
What’s your favorite food truck in Chicago? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Kristen Kuchar
Photos: Courtesy of Tamale Spaceship, The Slide Ride, The Southern Mac & Cheese, Starfruit