Looking for new spots to try? Lori Fredrich will be dishing out her top five picks in 20 different dining categories throughout the month of October.
While I love a relaxed dinner at a full-service restaurant, there’s also a certain charm about grabbing a quick bite from a local food truck to eat al fresco or take back to the office. And I’ve grown increasingly impressed by the quality of fare that’s being served by mobile operations in recent years.
It's definitely tough to narrow down the list of great food trucks to only five, I’ve given it my best effort. In the end, these five showcase not only the diversity of cuisines you can find on local food trucks, but also the quality and ingenuity of their intrepid entrepreneurial owners.
1. Tostada by Maranta
If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out the deliciously fresh tostadas from this new Bronzeville-based mobile trailer, today is as good a time as any. The trailer is usually parked in front of Maranta Plant Shop on King Drive; but you’ll also find it out and about at various events.
As for their menu, you can choose from vegan or meat-based tostadas, all made with local, seasonal ingredients. Current offerings include Mushroom (vegan and gluten-free) with cremini mushrooms, poblanos, red onions in adobo, guacamole and creamy citrus and cashew slaw; Pork belly (gluten-free) featuring crispy pork belly in chile de arbol sauce, refried black beans, queso fresco, mojo sauce and sour cream; or Chicken featuring beer can chicken, refried black beans, guacamole, tamarind slaw and sofrito sour cream. Don’t miss the lavender horchata; it’s delicious.
2. Anytime Arepa
Who doesn’t love a tender grilled masa cake filled with luscious ingredients? That’s what you’ll find at Anytime Arepa at Zocalo Food Park. The family run business offers made-to-order Venezuelan arepas with fillings like pulled brisket seasoned with sofrito paste; slow-cooked pork, which is marinated in citrus juices, wine and herbs; tender shredded chicken; or black beans and plantains. Each can be customized with your choice of cheese, black beans, plantains or salsa (garlic, avocado or hot).
3. Heirloom MKE
If you thought food trucks only offered street food, you might be surprised by the offerings from Heirloom, a local food truck specializing in locally sourced, seasonal dishes. Yes, you’ll find casual offerings like their delicious burger and some of the best fried cheese curds in the land. But don’t sleep on their other offerings including handmade burrata; mussels steamed with cream and herbs; and braised beef ribs.
Heirloom makes regular appearances at The Fermentorium in East Tosa, but you can also find them at various spots and events around the city.
4. Tatay’s Truck
Looking for the aromatic, flavorful fare of the Philippines? Look no further than Meat on the Street’s Tatay’s Truck, which pays homage to Filipino heritage through culinary treats like tender meat kebabs enhanced by snappy sawsawan (dipping sauces), fragrant garlic rice and pancit (seasoned rice noodles). On the truck, you’ll also find delicious savory bowls, including the Hot Chick, a savory bowl filled with garlic fried rice, Filipino teriyaki chicken, pickled onions, Sriracha calamansi aioli and scallions.
This truck is always on the move, so head to their website to see where they’re popping up next. For an expanded menu of delicious Filipino options, visit Meat on the Street at their brick and mortar location at the Eleven25 at the Pabst, 1125 N. 9th St.
5. Riley’s Good Dogs
Does anything beat a Chicago dog dragged through the garden? You’ll never know until you’ve tasted through the menu of creatively topped hot dogs and sausages (both meat- and plant-based) at Riley’s Good Dogs. Among my favorites are the the Korean BBQ dog with Riley's slaw #1, plum BBQ sauce, Sriracha and black sesame seeds; and the Kogi, a deliciously sweet and spicy dog topped with Riley's slaw #1, garlic teriyaki sauce, Sriracha and black sesame seeds.You’ll find the truck at its home base on Water Street (most of the time) or out and about at local events.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.