When you think of New York City, images of The Statue of Liberty, yellow taxis and coffee, lots of coffee, come to mind. But, like any major city, NYC has much more to offer. Made up of five boroughs—yes, there’s more to New York than Manhattan—each one has its own rich culture and history, and unsurprisingly, its own culinary staples just waiting to be discovered. What better way to celebrate the harbinger of spring than with a rundown of the best food trucks in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Considered to be the hippest borough in the city, Brooklyn has welcomed immigrants from all over the world for more than 200 years. During the industrial boom of the 1930s, the area saw an influx of African-Americans and Latinos, which contributed to its diversity and inclusive atmosphere. Today, Brooklyn is still a melting pot of cultures—head to Crown Heights for tasty Caribbean food or to Borough Park for pastramis on rye. It is also the place to get the best tacos in the city (Brooklyn has a Mexican population of more than 118,000). Tacos El Bronco in Sunset Park prepares fresh delights filled with sizzling carne or carnitas, sprinkled with a healthy dose of cilantro, radishes, onions and lime wedges. Starting at $2 apiece, the tacos attract long lines of hungry hipsters. If you don’t want to wait, head to the break-and-mortar location on Fourth Avenue.
The home of hip hop, The Yankees and Jennifer Lopez, the Bronx has a flavour all its own. While some skip the borough entirely, the area offers a unique glimpse into Latinx culture. Immigrants from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic first moved here in the mid-20th century so don’t be surprised to hear Spanish spoken more than English. This cultural invasion means you’ll find bonafide Latin cuisine like your Abuela used to make. While food trucks can be found throughout the borough, Lechonera La Piraña in Mott Haven serves tasty Puerto Rican fare with a dose of salsa on blast for atmosphere. Only open on the weekends, locals line up for authentic, lip-smackingly good lechón, tender, slow-cooked pork served with rice and peas.
Think of New York and you’ll probably think of Manhattan, with its iconic skyline and myriad historic sites. But step away from the bright lights and you’ll find a joyous hubbub of migrant culture that gives the borough its distinct, intoxicating presence. From Chinese restaurants in Lower Manhattan to African-American cuisine in Harlem, you’ll find a rich choice of tasty delights from all over the world. Food trucks line the streets and even the entrances of major museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While it’s easy to grab a Gray’s Papaya hot dog and go, try the Indian crepes at NY DOSA in NOHO. Made from lentil flour and filled with spicy sauteed potatoes with a side of chutney, NY DOSA celebrates South Asians—who first settled in Manhattan in the 1960s and now number 300,000—and all their culinary glory.
Queens, the biggest of the five boroughs, has the most diverse population in the city, which means you are spoiled for choice when it comes to good ethnic food. From vibrant Chinatown in Flushing to authentic Pakistani food in Jackson Heights, you’ll be sure to find trucks so good you’ll wish you could drive them home. Head to King Souvlaki in Astoria for some of the best Greek food this side of the Aegean Sea. Opened in 1979—50 years after the first Greeks settled in the area—the blue truck can be spotted down the street. Chow down on tender lamb gyros with Greek fries. What makes them Greek, you ask? Well, they’re covered in feta, of course!
Sometimes known as the forgotten borough, Staten Island often gets a raw deal. However, there’s more to this borough than just the ferry—even if it’s free! Mostly residential in nature, the borough has more than 150 parks, making it a great place to dine alfresco. Since 1524, when Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano first drifted ashore, Italians have made this borough their own and you can see that Italian pride everywhere. For a taste of authentic Italian-American cuisine, visit Valducci’s Pizza Truck in Charleston. The pies—as New Yorker’s lovingly call their pizza—are mostly Sicilian or Neapolitan in nature so expect thick crusts, thick toppings and thick Staten Island accents.