My love affair with food trucks dates back to first grade. We had just moved to Cambridge and I found myself in a hulking, brick school with a vast and terrifying cement schoolyard, so unlike the teeny kindergarten I had left behind in New Hampshire. My brown bag lunch was the only familiar thing that remained: a shmear of peanut butter on Pepperidge Farm white bread. Perhaps an apple. My mother didn’t believe in treats in the house; no cookies, no candy, a rare scoop of ice cream. By the time the school bell rang, I had an unbearable longing for something, anything sweet. And there, at the curb, was the coffee truck and my salvation: Peggy Lawton Choco-Chip cookies. For fifteen cents, three enormous cookies were mine, tooth-achingly sweet, studded with mini chocolate chips and a tiny bit salty. Besides being sent to the corner for talking too much (no surprise there) those cookies are the thing I remember most about first grade. Food trucks have come a long way since the days of cello-wrapped foodstuffs. Here’s a list of local trucks, all of whom will come to you and cater your summer shindigs.
The Cheese Truck
Tom and Jason Sobocinski, owners of Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro and the buzzy, brand new, Ordinary, have been bringing “crispy, melty goodness” to Connecticut for the last three years. Their proprietary blend of provolone, swiss, comte, gruyere, gouda and sharp cheddar on sourdough with a side of cornichons and grainy mustard is not your mom’s grilled cheese. For $12 to $25 per person, they’ll cater cocktail parties featuring grilled cheese bites with tomato shooters to The Connosieur, including beet and chevre salad, grilled cheese with fancy toppings (house made duck confit, grass fed skirt steak) and cheese and charcuterie platters.
Thimble Island Lobster Bakes
Hire Lobster Mike to cater your lobster bake for 8 to 200 people and he’ll roll in with the Lobstermobile and everything you need for the feast: local clams and oysters, new england clam chowder, a 1.25 lb steamed native lobster, sweet corn, and a salad (plus plates, cups, utensils and bibs, of course!). Steak and chicken are available for the non-pescatarians. The best news? They’ll clean it up and cart off the smelly shells, too. A complete dinner is $60 plus tax and tip. Smaller groups are no problem: his crew will deliver Lobsters To Go-Go, fully cooked meals for parties of six or more. Call for available dates: 203.488.3711.
Tacuba Taco Bar
One of the very first on the scene in 1996, Arturo and Suzette Franco-Camacho’s taco carts were New Haven’s go-to for fresh and authentic Mexican cuisine. Current owners of the fantastic Tacuba Taco Bar and Waterhouse in New Haven (and former owners of Roomba, Bespoke and Suburban), the cart is available for private parties, dishing up Arturo’s famous Big Burritos and Mexican Grilled Corn. They’re happy to customize your menu, from a taco tasting to a full on fiesta for up to 200, from $12 to $20 per person. www.tacubatacobar.com
A trip to Belgium inspired Fryborg, a new food truck that specializes in hand-cut French fries with homemade dipping sauces (curried ketchup, pesto mayo), grilled cheese sandwiches, and 25 flavors of real-sugar sodas in glass bottles (no fructose here!). Chef Jon Gibbons will cater parties from a simple snack to lunch or dinner, for $5 to $25 per person. Most requested? Grilled fluffernutter sandwich with bacon and buffalo chicken fries.
Skinny Pines Pizza Truck
I had a nirvana moment at the Celebration of Connecticut Farms last fall at the Skinny Pines Pizza Truck. Imagine a super thin, crisp-crusted pie made from locally-milled whole wheat flour, topped with the freshest organic ingredients and wood-fired on the spot. They’ll come to you with their mobile pizza oven and cater your party or special event. While pizza, salad and gelato are their standbys, they’ll cook up anything that can be made inside their brick oven: roasted oysters, pulled pork, chicken sliders, s’mores or Chef Jeff will develop a menu just for you. We love their dedication to sustainable practices: tableware is biodegradable and pizza boxes are 100% recycled. Cost ranges from $15 – 30 per person with a $750 minimum.
Greg Sharon, chef/owner of Taco Pacifico, has a brand new truck and is dishing up fresh tacos, enchiladas and burritos with his famous homemade tortilla chips and guac at the Academy lot in Madison. He’ll travel to you and offer his Fiesta menu featuring an assortment of tacos (fish, chicken carnitas, veggie), quesadillas and burritos with yummy churros for dessert. Click here for per person pricing.
While I find a good hot dog irresistible, I’m also a huge fan of vegan cooking. Vegan chefs have to think out of the (butter) box and I find their food some of the most imaginative on the Shoreline. My husband? Not so much, until he got his hands on a plate of soba noodles with wild jungle peanut butter, quinoa and black bean chili with sweet potato fries from the GMonkey Mobile after the Tour de Lyme. Mark Shadle and Ami Beach, owners of G-Zen in Branford, spread vegan love with treats like raw tacos, vegan grilled cheese, organic burritos and their wickedly delicious fries. They’ll customize a seasonal, organic and sustainable menu for your party of 20 to 150 with a price ranege of $10 to 50 per person. www.g-zen.com
CT Roadside BBQ
Got a hankering for barbecue? Look for the truck parked outside the Beech Tree Cottages in Madison on weekends and treat yourself to beef brisket or pulled pork on brioche or chef Craig Talmadge’s genius invention, the BBQ Bowl: beef or pork layered with corn bread and baked beans. His repertoire includes ribs, smoked kielbasa, chicken, lamb and chili with sides of baked beans, cole slaw and cornbread. For parties, he’ll set up the truck or cater trays of ‘cue. Make sure to check out The Little Station, the adorabe boutique at Beech Tree Cottages while you’re there. Call 203.245.2676 for info.
Little Sister’s Grilled Cheese Truck
Little Sister’s Grilled Cheese will show up in their happy truck and feed your party of up to 200 (depending on time frame) on ten variations of their famous grilled cheese sandwiches and a variety of sweet and savory treats. The don’t miss favorite? Honey Bear: perfectly grilled goat cheese and honey. Yum. Price ranges $6 to $20 per person.
Food truck owners are a busy lot; cooking, baking and driving and don’t always answer emails. While writing this article, I didn’t hear back from the following, but click their name for more info:
High Tide Gourmet (lobster rolls)
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From Caseus Cheese Truck
46 Stratton Way
Branford, Connecticut 06405
From Thimble Islands Lobsterbakes
Custom seafood feasts served at your home, office, marina or just about anywhere!
50 Mungertown Road
Madison, Connecticut 06443
From Taco Pacifico
We operate a taco trailer along the Connecticut Shoreline,serving freshly prepared, California-style Mexican food.
1187 Boston Post Road
Madison, Connecticut 06443
From Beech Tree Cottages
Beech Tree Cottages is the perfect destination for short excursions, romantic weekends or family vacations, providing guests with a charming alternative to the hotel experience, all within minutes to CT’s best beaches and local shops and restaurants.