For the city that never sleeps, you can only expect the best (and the worst) to come out of its streets. Because New York is a mixture of global cultures and traditions, it is no surprise that the unique links between them have manifested themselves by way of food. NY has borne some of the most extraordinary street foods and gourmet cooking that it is a destination in itself for serious food enthusiasts. There are hundreds of them lined up in the front and back streets in customized trucks, but we’ve picked out seven that we love the most (in no particular order).
- Wafels & Dinges
This truck is arguably the king of New York street food and has been serving up authentic Belgian-style waffles and dinges since 2007. Mind you, these are not the regular waffles you make at home at just top with syrup and cream cheese; they’re served with an extra helping of whatever it is you want to see on a waffle — from chili con carne, to barbecue pulled pork, to the richest Belgian chocolate fudge and speculoos spread.
Customers have the liberty to decide what “dinges” to put on a waffle so every experience can be totally unique. The best part? You can take them back to your catered events and gatherings anywhere in the US.
What we like: Check out the Salmon Benedict. It’s a sandwich of brown waffles with a poached egg that’s been drenched in hollandaise sauce, placed carefully on top of a fresh salmon fillet. It makes the perfect breakfast or brunch treat — or for any time of the day, really.
- The Cinnamon Sail
This truck always has long lines, so be prepared to wait and stand for a while before being served. Surprisingly to many mostly-carnivorous New Yorkers, the truck is all vegan — and is insanely delicious.
The owner and chef Adam Sobel says he is looking to help consumer tastes evolve to let go of foods that do damage to the earth and engage in animal cruelty. Hence, he put up The Cinnamon Sail to deliver a vast selection of burgers, sandwiches, desserts, and more without any meat or its by-products, at all. We’ve done the test: you really can’t tell the difference and probably won’t notice that you’re eating a 100% no-meat burger. If you’re not convinced of the vegan way of life, these foods could turn you into a believer.
What we like: Try Beastmode Burger Deluxe, which is made of ancho chili seitan patties grilled in special maple bourbon sauce. This is topped with jalapeno mac ’n cheese, smoked chili coconut bacon, chipotle mayo, and arugula – placed in between freshly grilled pretzel buns.
- Luke’s Lobster
If you’re looking for fresh and affordable lobster rolls in NYC, Luke’s is the place to be. Owner Luke Holden ensures that the lobsters are taken fresh from the docks of Maine every day and then steamed and individually wrapped before they are delivered to his truck. Every bag contains 1/4 pound of 100% pure lobster meat gathered from about 5 or 6 claws.
What we like: Try Noah’s Ark, which is a lobster roll, shrimp roll, and crab roll in one plate, plus coleslaw as siding and four crab claws. It’s meant for sharing, but hey, it’s so good you might want to keep it all for yourself.
- Toum NYC
Toum is the first and only Lebanese food truck in New York. With “toum” meaning garlic, you can only expect plenty of sharp flavors bursting with every bite of anything on its menu. This truck serves authentic Lebanese cuisine with a side of toum dip, whose taste surprisingly cannot be found anywhere else in the city. It is run by a family of chefs and has been operating since 2012.
What we like: It arguably serves the best shawarmas and falafels in New York, but we mainly keep coming back for the Falafel, which is served in 5 pieces with your choice of babaghanouj, hummus, french fries, or rice, plus tabbouleh salad and a side of tahini sauce and pita bread. Wash it down it with their signature lemonade with agave.
- Coney Shack
You won’t miss Coney Shack when you’re on the streets because you’ll see its distinct red-faced logo on the truck from a mile away. This truck serves fusion street food, with a particular specialty for tacos. This South East Asian inspired Mexican snack contains your choice of pork, beef, tofu, seafood, or vegetable, topped with the brand’s signature secret sauce. It also serves burritos, rice bowls, quesadillas, and hotdogs.
What we like: Our eyes riveted towards the name Holy Phuc on the menu. This is a beef hot dog placed alongside a beer-battered fried fish. Both are topped with a melted blend of 5 types of Mexican cheese, pickled onions, lemongrass aioli, and tomato basil Creole. But what I like in particular are the five spice calamari tacos and garlic king oyster mushroom tacos.
- El Toro Rojo Truck
El Toro Rojo literally means The Red Bull, and you will definitely see this emblazoned across its body in a truck. With Mexican cuisine at its core, the brand brings homemade and hand-prepared Oaxacan dishes to the NYC streets fresh every single day. The lines are expectedly long during rush hours, so come early.
What we like: If you’re not sure what to order first, we recommend the 3 Taco Plate, which is made up of Nixtamal tortilla, pico de gallo, and your choice of chicken, steak, al pastor, carnitas, chorizo, and vegetables. This is served with its homemade salsa verde and roja. Mexican food tastes best with beer, so be ready to drink up.
- Gorilla Cheese NYC
Who doesn’t love cheese? This iconic NY food truck has found a way to bring heaps of cheese to the streets with its wide range of sandwich offerings. It serves everything from the classic American grilled cheese to the more experimental delights. Always finish the meal with its wildly popular Big S s’mores dessert.
What we like: We’re partial to the GCNYC1 Classic, which reminds us of the delicious grilled cheese sandwiches we usually enjoyed as an after-school treat as kids, but if you’re on the bolder side, you might want to try the Brooklyn Special, which consists of Asiago and Prosciutto di Parma on a panini bread with aioli.
Other street foods that also make the cut are Souvlaki GR (which serves Authentic Greek food), and Neapolitan Express (which offers organic and non-GMO breakfast food all day long).
New Yorkers are almost always on the go, so street foods are a great way to load up during those long walks and commutes. Plus, restaurant food can be pretty expensive and regular folk certainly can’t have those every single day. For me, NY street food is a godsend — and given how many more people come into the city every day, I suspect more of this exciting goodness is coming our way soon.