The cupcakes served from the blue truck operated by Shannon Turrell and Russ Falkowski won Charlotte hearts with flavors such as Red Velvet, Death by Chocolate, S’More, Black Bottom and the all-time favorite, the Elvis, a banana cupcake topped with peanut butter cream and slices of candied bacon. Supplies nearly always sell out so call ahead on the Baby Blue Hotline to reserve your cupcakes. If you are looking for a frozen treat, check out the offerings of the King of Pops (@KingofPopsCLT) which serves popsicles in such entrancing flavors as honeydew mint, Thai tea and chocolate sea salt. Or hunt down the Cones Truck operated by Sticks and Cones (@SticksAndCones), named one of the most innovative ice cream trucks in the country by Delish.com.
Chef Brian Seeley’s 2011 entry on the food truck scene takes inspiration from his extensive culinary background which has taken him around the world from serving as head chef at Jackalope’s View Restaurant in the North Carolina mountains to developing menus for a new restaurant in the Middle East. The menu served from his Herban Legend food truck reflects international street food influences, with many creations that surprise and delight local tastebuds. Expect dishes like an Arabic-style shawarma wrap, Jamaican jerk chicken, spicy curry inspired by Sri Lankan cuisine, Asian-style duck ramen, Filipino pork belly and pineapple adobo and an all-American fried green tomato grilled cheese. Seeley uses local produce and providers as much as possible to create the authentic flavors in his recipes.
Playing upon the American obsession with cheese, Papi Queso offers all grilled cheese, all of the time. This truck offers a limited menu, but a hugely popular one. Offerings range from the Southern-inspired Pig Mac, with pulled pork atop mac n’ cheese inside crispy grilled bread, to gourmet creations such as the leek and mushroom sandwich with gruyere, roasted mushrooms and truffle robiola or the fan-favorite special, lobster mac grilled cheese sandwich with sherry butter sauce. To go with your meal, Papi serves home-cooked truffle kettle chips flavored with rosemary and parmesan, Mexican cokes and Sprecher root beer.
Created by a trio of professionals in the food service industry, the TIN Kitchen food truck offers a wide variety of unique fusion-inspired tacos, quesadillas, sliders, salads and nachos. Order a Thai coconut shrimp taco, a chipotle chicken quesadilla, Korean BBQ sliders or a beef brisket salad, or create your own combination to match your taste preferences. Vegetarians have a particularly wide choice at the TIN Kitchen with fillings ranging from coconut curry chickpeas to buffalo cauliflower to spicy kim chi. Single tacos will set you back just $3.25, while combos here are a great value, offering a complete meal with drink for $10. Check Twitter for daily specials, often featuring duck or seafood.
A relative newcomer on the food truck scene, the Chef Street Bistro truck is state of the art, with a full gourmet kitchen plus outdoor TVs and speakers on-board. Chef Jonathan Leary, formerly executive chef at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, draws upon his experience to create a menu that’s proving popular with Charlotte fans. The specialty is slow-roasted prime rib, sliced very thin and served atop fresh local bread or a salad. Offerings range from the Classic, with bacon and horseradish crème, to the Oscar topped with crab meat and asparagus. Sandwiches come with tater tots, also available separately topped with blue cheese, bacon, grilled buffalo chicken or Philly-style with prime rib, cheese sauce and sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms. There’s something for vegetarians as well: a Mediterranean wrap stuffed with polenta parmesan sticks, feta and grilled asparagus.
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With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.