New York City
Wafels & Dinges
Thomas DeGeest didn’t give up the jet-setting life of a business consultant to make just any old waffles. His goal when he returned from a research mission to his native Belgium was to serve Americans something that would make them forget that the kind sold in supermarket freezer cases ever existed. As of last October, after a minor skirmish over turf with Mr. Softee, his school-bus-yellow truck parks at three spots, two in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. “Brussels” waffles are made to order, the batter poured into a cast-iron contraption and transformed into a featherweight rectangle. Request fudge sauce, strawberries, dulce de leche, or maple syrupand rue your years of eating Eggos.
For locations, call the Wafels & Dinges hotline: 866-429-7329; wafelsanddinges.com
The Tamale Lady
No one epitomizes the street-food ethos quite like the Tamale Lady. When drunkenness descends on bars in the Mission and SoMa, the city’s patron saint of meat-stuffed masa-dough parcels, Virginia Ramos, emergesnot driving a fancy truck but wheeling a cooler. This sort of bootstrap entrepreneurship would be laudable even if she were selling just-okay sandwiches, but considering that she’s hawking exceptionally moist homemade tamales stuffed with tender pork and topped with her own salsa, it’s downright heroic. If you have trouble finding her, try asking the owners of a bar called Zeitgeist; they’re so taken with Ramos that they throw her a birthday party every year.
Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia Street, 415-255-7505
La Esquina del Sabor
Lots of food trucks are worth slowing down to get a closer look, but anything emblazoned with a cartoon pig impaled on a spit requires a screeching halt. After all, that image means there will be porkand if you’re lucky, it will approach the lusciousness of the meat sold at this trailer in Humboldt Park. You’ll need a crowd of at least three to finish an order of pork with yellow rice, especially if you plan to move on to the pork-packed pasteles (like Puerto Rican tamales, steamed in banana leaves) and the jibarito, a sandwich that trades bread for two flattened-and-fried slices of plantain. A word of advice: You should.
On North Humboldt Drive, near the north entrance of Humboldt Park; no phone
The local government’s recent war on taco trucks has made it tough for mobile food peddlers to stay in one place for more than an hour. But fans of El Pique would sooner eat while jogging alongside a moving vehicle than give up its taco al pastor, which shines bright even in a city filled with excellent truck-made tacos. A double layer of warm corn tortillas cradles charred, marinated pork, a scattering of raw onions and cilantro, and a good lashing of salsa roja. Standing while eating theseor the insanely juicy carne asada (slow-cooked beef)has ruined more than one pair of pants. If you’re fussy enough to care, make the little ledge on the side of the truck your table.
In the parking lot of the car wash at York Boulevard and Avenue 53, Highland Park; no phone