Food Trucks Come to BU
Dining on wheels
It’s impossible to walk by the colorful food trucks dotting Comm Ave without noticing the long lines and fragrant aromas. Sandwiches, cupcakes, and steaming lattes are just a smattering of what the food trucks that arrive on campus every day offer. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, each has nutritious food at affordable prices.
Boston was slow to embrace the national food truck trend. In 2010, Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) launched a Healthy Food Initiative designed to give residents better access to healthy food and issued a Food Truck Challenge, asking local vendors to come up with meals using fresh, local ingredients. Last fall, seven judges, among them some of the city’s most prominent chefs, and the public voted three food trucks contest winners.
Bon Me, co-owned by Alison Fong (CAS’01), with its healthy, Vietnamese-inspired food, was crowned one of the winners, along with Momogoose and Clover. Each was awarded technical assistance, permits, and low-interest loans to help their businesses grow.
Now 15 food truck vendors are part of the initiative, each bringing, in Menino’s words, “wicked good food” to different parts of the city. To participate, each must offer at least one healthy menu option and be committed to environmental sustainability. The trucks serve people craving dining options in places where there isn’t space for a new restaurant, says Fong. “When people buy their lunch from a truck, it brings them out to enjoy the city’s parks and green space,” she says. “And many food trucks pride themselves on serving food that is healthy.”
Many of the food trucks participating in the Boston program, as well as some additions, arrive each day on Commonwealth Ave., and BU Today has compiled a list below. Many more are at the South End’s SoWa Open Market on Sundays, close by the BU Medical Campus. Follow the trucks on Twitter, as many of them post updates about hours and menus.
Bon Me is a play on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich, the “Bánh mì.” The bright yellow truck’s sandwiches ($6) start off with pickled carrot and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, red onion, spicy mayo, and pate. Diners can then add spice-rubbed chicken, barbecued pork, or organic tofu and shitake mushroom. Other lunch choices include noodle salad or rice bowls (also $6), with choice of chicken, pork, or tofu. We recommend the noodle salad with cold buckwheat soba noodles and toasted sesame dressing. Wash it down with a yummy drink like spicy-ginger lemonade ($2.50) or an organic iced green tea ($2). For sides ($2), go with the spicy edamame or the deviled tea eggs.
Food trucks bring dessert, too. The Cupcakory was founded by Dianne DeMarco, who decided to pursue her passion for baking after a career in publishing. She bought an old catering truck and launched the business with her husband. The moist cupcakes are intense—salted caramel, Nutella and chocolate, and Creamsicle are just a few. The truck also offers vegan and gluten-free cupcakes. All cupcakes are $3, or a half dozen for $16.50.
You might recognize chef James DiSabatino and his truck from the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. The group was eliminated from the show in September, ending up third out of eight trucks. Now that Roxy’s is back in Boston, you can sample its grilled gourmet cheese with a twist. Opt for the Mighty Rib Melt ($7), made with fontina cheese, braised short ribs, and caramelized onions, or the more conventional Rookie Melt ($5), with Vermont cheddar cheese and fresh tomato. For a side, order the hand-cut truffle fries or the beer-battered grillos pickles, both a value at $4. If you’re still craving cheese, go for the grilled cheesecake ($4), homemade cheesecake between griddled butter pound cake. And we recommend that you then take the stairs to work off your dinner.
BU Location: In front of Morse Auditorium, 602 Commonwealth Ave., Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. In front of the College of Fine Arts, 855 Commonwealth Ave., Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other locations are here.
Begun by MIT grad Ayr Muir, Clover serves vegetarian food so good it appeals even to meat lovers. The morning offerings are breakfast sandwiches, popovers, oatmeal with fresh fruit, and coffee. For lunch or dinner, try the Barbecue Seitan sandwich (seitan is a meat alternative made from wheat gluten) or the Soy BLT; all sandwiches are $5. The most popular item may just be the french fries ($3), a huge quantity of crisp fries with rosemary sprigs and salt sprinkled over them. In a rush? The truck conveniently lists estimated times next to each of the menu offerings to let you know how long your selection should take to arrive. The fresh-made lemonades change often (brown sugar lemonade, lavender lemonade). Clover also serves hibiscus soda, coffee, and orange juice.
These gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches will make even the biggest food snobs think they’ve died and gone to heaven. The sandwich starts with bread from local Cambridge bakery Iggy’s that is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, just like bread should be. Try the Brie Me Up, with melted creamy brie and sliced Asian pear on organic wheat pain de mie bread, or the In Gouda We Trust, smoked gouda with caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms on rye pain de mie. Most sandwiches are between $4 and $6; tomato soup or gazpacho (depending on season) can accompany the sandwich in either a “shot” ($1 with a sandwich, otherwise $2) or a bowl ($4). For dessert, have the Nut Tellin Ya ($5), Nutella and Fluff with sliced bananas on a mini brioche.
This Davis Square–based bakery has gone mobile, bringing the cupcakes that earned them a huge following in Somerville to neighborhoods throughout Boston. The inventive flavors are surprising—mojito, berry crumbly, and limited editions like chocolate oink (chocolate cupcake with whipped cream center, maple icing topped with candied bacon). Cupcakes are $3 each, $4 for an extra-large.
It’s hard to miss the big reddish-orange food truck that serves lunch twice a week in front of Morse. The sandwiches ($7) are large and worth every penny. Specials are often posted on Facebook and Twitter, but expect to see the New England Apple Cider Brined Pulled Pork or the Chicken Marrakesh, grilled chicken with fresh oregano, garlic, olive tapenade, and port wine prune jam on freshly baked focaccia. Sides and snacks change often, but a mainstay is the popular crispy cauliflower ($4).
These handmade gourmet ice cream sandwiches ($5) come with a scoop of ice cream lavished between two fresh-baked cookies. You get to choose your own combination of cookie and ice cream—ice cream flavors range from vanilla to mint explosion, and cookie choices include chocolate chip, vanilla bean, chocolate sugar, or pizzelle cookie. Fall flavors include: maple, pumpkin, sweet cream ice cream; pumpkin or gingerbread cookies. If you’re watching your figure, smaller sliders ($3) and bowls of ice cream ($4) are available.
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What’s your favorite food truck? Leave it in the comments section below.22 Comments