by Christopher Hughes | May 10, 2014 6:17 am
The SoWa Market, everyone’s favorite open-air bazaar, returned on May 4, welcoming in legions of South End shoppers hungry for its annual bounty of farm fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and of course, unique food truck fare. Throughout the spring and summer, SoWa holds court to Boston’s largest collection of food truck vendors, with up to 30 mobile restaurants serving everything from macarons and ice cream, to satay and tonkotsu ramen.
With only a handful of months to take advantage of this veritable cornucopia, what’s the best way to navigate Harrison Ave.’s overabundance of options? To answer that loaded question, we asked the brains (and mouths) behind some of SoWa’s most popular food trucks and carts. Here’s the fool-proof guide to emerging fat, happy, and placated every SoWa Sunday.
May 4 – October 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 460 Harrison Ave., Boston; 800-403-8305 or newenglandopenmarkets.com.
COMPLIMENTS FOOD CO.
Top Seller: “Cheezy Goodness” grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread with Vermont cheddar, swiss, and a salt-and-peppered griddled tomato.
What You Should Be Ordering: “‘We Work Well Together'” grass fed beef sliders and our fried cauliflower,” owner Bobby Maclean (not pictured) says. “We get our beef from Adams Farm out of Athol. It’s a nice place with very happy, farm-raised cows. It’s served with Vermont cheddar and layered between two slices of parm-griddled baguette from Pain D’avignon bakery, which is baked fresh for us everyday.”
Top Seller: Chocolate chip cookie with Mint Explosion ice cream from The Chilly Cow in Arlington.
What You Should Be Ordering: “People should order whatever combination they like,” says owner Mary McPartland. “I usually have four or five cookies and up to 16 different ice cream choices every Sunday. My regulars get really inventive and choose two different cookies and two flavors of ice cream squished onto one sandwich. If I had to choose a favorite though, it would be my fudge brownie cookie with salted caramel ice cream.”
THE TACO TRUCK
Top Seller: Pescado Taco
What You Should Be Ordering: “If you haven’t tried the Pescado, you must,” says Operating Partner Greg Vasey. “It’s a combination of everything we do well. It feels like a full meal because of the battered catfish, but it also has the cold, fresh red cabbage, which really lightens it up. Definitely add the guacamole and chipotle salsa, which we make fresh daily.”
STOKED WOOD FIRED PIZZA CO.
Top Seller: Pepperoni pizza
What You Should Be Ordering: “The Buffalo chicken pizza combines the savoriness from the wood-roasted chicken and my house-made, slightly sweet Buffalo sauce,” says co-owner Scott Riebling. “You get that sweet and salty combination that is so prevalent in Thai and Chinese cooking. Along with the nice, charred flavor from the chicken, there’s the salty Gorgonzola that adds that blue cheese, umami component. A lot of pizza places just squirt Frank’s RedHot sauce on top of a chicken pizza, serve it with some ranch dressing, and call it a Buffalo pizza. But we make ours with love. Everything is scratch-made, including the Buffalo sauce, which is made from five secret ingredients.”
M&M BBQ FOOD TRUCK
Top Seller: Beef brisket sandwich
What You Should Be Ordering: “We pride ourselves on our ribs,” says manager Geovanni Lambert (pictured). “Sure, the ribs are a bit messy to eat, but they’re well worth the hassle, especially paired with our mac-and-cheese, collard greens, and coleslaw.”
THE PARIS CREPERIE
Top Seller: S’Mores Crepe
What You Should Be Ordering: “People always order the s’mores crepe, which is good and delicious, but also a little heavy. You have a couple bites and you’re kind of over it,” Martha Griem says. “What they should be ordering is the For-Biden [yes, named after Joe Biden] Fruit which is both sweet and savory. It’s layered with apples, cheddar, and brown sugar. It’s just simple and delicious.”
Top Seller: Italian Dill spears
What You Should Be Ordering: “Either our new bread and butter pickled jalapeños or the pickled ramps,” says Operations Manager Eric Grillo (not pictured). “The ramps are only available for a short period every spring and they’re amazing. It’s the first thing people look for at the stand, so we usually sell out first thing in the morning.”
Top Seller: Chinese barbecue pork bahn mi
What You Should Be Ordering: “Our miso-braised pulled pork is absolutely delicious and it pairs best with the Soba noodles,” says owner Patrick Lynch. “Not only is it a healthy choice, but the flavors just meld together beautifully.” Besides the dense bed of soba, bean sprouts, chopped seasonal greens, carrots, and the nest of cilantro sprigs, Lynch also recommends adding Bon Me’s tea eggs, which are marinated overnight in a rich bath of black tea and soy sauce.
MEI MEI STREET KITCHEN
Top Seller: The Double Awesome, a scallion pancake sandwich stuffed with Vermont cheddar, pesto, and eggs that have been poached and then fried.
What You Should Be Ordering: Blow-torched sweet corn that has been basted in bacon fat. “The corn typically comes from Four Town Farm in Seekonk, but we also source from a number of other farms, some that are right there at the SoWa market,” says co-owner Irene Li (pictured).
“We’re the only place you can get corn charred with a blowtorch,” Li says. “More specifically though, we love that blowtorching gets you that nice grilled flavor that is so evocative of summertime without spoiling the intense sweetness of raw corn. We love the contrast of cool, raw sweet corn with its charred, fatty exterior.”
BLACK MAGIC COFFEE CO.
Top Seller: Latté
What You Should Be Ordering: Malted iced coffee, which combines cold-steeped Tandem Coffee Roasters El Higueron Costa Rican coffee, whole milk from Shaw Farm, and owner David Simon’s specialty, liquid malt. Yes, that’s the same liquid malt used by beer brewers.
ROXY’S GRILLED CHEESE
Top Seller: “Green Muenster Melt” with muenster cheese, house-made guacamole, and applewood smoked bacon.
What You Should Be Ordering: “The ‘Mighty Rib’ is definitely the employee favorite,” says manager Nicole Losata. “It’s our biggest sandwich and it’s loaded with fontina, caramelized onions, and barbecue braised beef. Sometimes we like to doctor it up even further with lots of chopped fresh rosemary.”
THE DINING CAR
Top Seller: Grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, cucumber, and wasabi aioli
What You Should Be Ordering: Honey Truffle Goat Cheese Sandwich made with marinated goat cheese spread, honey truffled walnuts, salad greens,and sherry vinaigrette. “Nobody does else anything like it,” says manager Jeremy Ellis. “It’s a really great salad packed into crusty French bread.”
BATCH ICE CREAM
Top Seller: Salted Caramel ice cream
What You Should Be Ordering: Brown Sugar, Bourbon, and Pecan. “What Batch is all about is that we use real ingredients without any artificial extracts or flavorings,” says co-owner Susie Parish. “Our newest flavor uses a combination of Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam bourbons, as well as organic brown sugar, and custom-roasted pecans. There’s no weird stuff in Batch, so there are no additives like carrageenan or xanthan gum. It’s just milk, cream, eggs, sugar. We’re also using local as much as possible, so all the dairy is from here in New England. It’s a great combination because it’s a little bit boozy, but it’s also sweet. You can really taste the bourbon. Maybe that’s why it’s a dessert finalist at the SOFI awards.”
BONE DADDY’S BURGERS
Top Seller: The Lemmy, a ground beef burger topped with truck-made Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, smoked onion crisps, bacon, and cheddar cheese.
What You Should Be Ordering: The Buffalo Diablo, which is made with 100% ground buffalo, crumbled blue cheese, fried celery root, and owner Rich Cambriello’s fiery, habañero-infused buffalo sauce. “I always recommend the Buffalo because it’s just different—made as it is with lean buffalo meat—and it’s hard to get because we only make 10 a day. Also, the sauce is amazingly hot. If you like spice, you have to check it out. With every batch of my 666 sauce I just keep adding more and more dried peppers.”
BENNY’S CREPE CAFÉ
Top Seller: Ham and cheese crepe filled with Black Forest ham, swiss, cheddar, sauteed crimini mushrooms, and honey mustard
What You Should Be Ordering: “My favorite is the smoked salmon crepe,” says owner Frank Shear. Inspired by the crepe trucks he frequented on a vacation in Paris, Shear makes his crepes with a traditional blend of buckwheat and white flour. He uses all Nova Scotia smoked salmon to complement the herb-studded cow’s milk cream cheese spread, red onion, and arugula. “The key is that we add a little bit of caper juice to the cheese to thin it out and give it a more manageable consistency,” Shear says. “Afterward, you don’t have that heavy, belly full of cream cheese you normally get with bagel and lox. Also, the bed of fresh baby arugula, which is crisp and peppery, is a nice contrast to the salmon.”
THE BACON TRUCK
Top Seller: “The Hangover” with bacon, bacon hash, havarti, and a fried egg.
What You Should Be Ordering: “The Hangover is a really good sandwich, but for me personally, if you’re not in the right mood, it can give you a food hangover,” says co-owner Sam Williams. “‘The ‘Turkey Avo’ on the other hand is something we can eat any day. It’s the most well-rounded with all-white meat turkey breast that we roast ourselves. We throw it on Iggy’s sourdough bread with a ton of avocado, Beefsteak tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and our signature chimichurri aioli.”
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