I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
NUMBER 45: PUPUSAS at EL OLOMEGA
The winner of this year’s NY Vendy Awards (the awards given out every year to food carts and trucks) was Solber Pupusas, which has been serving pupusas at the Red Hook Ball Fields for the last 10 years or so. But about a decade before Solber pulled up to the soccer park, El Olomega began serving these Salvadoran specialties. And they’re still doing it every April through October.
Pupusas, for the unfortunate uninitiated, are grilled corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and any number of meat or vegetables (including Time Out’s favorite, zucchini). The fillings are always fresh and flavorful here and they’re held up by a charred sweet corn patty and a trio of sides: tomato salsa, fried plantains, and a tangy mound of pickled cole slaw. I think it’s about time El Olomega got some Vendy love.
|Red Hook Ball Fields
Clinton Street and Bay Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn
NUMBER 44: JERK CHICKEN at VERONICA’S KITCHEN
I’ve been on somewhat of a jerk chicken kick this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersed in the world of food carts (because of the Urban Oyster tours) and there are quite a few Caribbean vendors making their own versions. One of the best I’ve ever tasted is the one coming out of Trinidadian owned Veronica’s Kitchen.
Veronica Julien serves a wide range of Caribbean specialities, like roti and curry goat, but her chicken is phenomenal. Due to space restrictions on her cart, she roasts the chicken (as opposed to the usual grilling), but still gets a smoky dark char on the meat. Speckled with pepper flakes and cooled down with allspice and garlic, the fall-off-the-bone meat is full of flavored and feels as if it’s been lovingly cooked in someone’s home kitchen. It just so happens to be a kitchen on wheels. Price: $6/$8
|Front Street (at Pine Street)
NUMBER 43: CHICKEN SOUVAKI STICK at SOUVLAKI GR
It sure says something if I eat the same thing for lunch over and over again. I’m the kind of person who likes variety and mostly prefers to go to new restaurants rather than repeat places and if I do re-visit a restaurant, I will most definitely try something different (unless a dish made this list, of course).
Whenever I’m down in the Financial District (which is about twice a week), I make a stop at the Souvlaki GR truck to get a few of their chicken sticks (usually over a salad). This Greek food truck is just over a year old and already has two Vendy Awards, a brick and mortar restaurant, and a spot on my 100 Best list from last year for their Greek fries. The more authentic order would be pork (Time Out even included that on their current list), but I prefer the leaner and softer chicken. They shun the chicken breast and instead use marinated skewers of chicken thigh (the more flavorful cut) on the charcoal grill to give it a blackened, tender flavor that is tastier than any chicken should be. Included in an order is their unbelievably fluffy homemade pita bread and real Greek tzatziki sauce. Price: $1.75 per stick.
|Front Street and Old Slip,
|116 Stanton Street (between Ludlow and Essex Street)
Lower East Side
NUMBER 42: LAMB MARRAKECH at BISTRO TRUCK
There have been quite a few changes at Bistro Truck this past year. For starters, they decided to bring the love to other neighborhoods in New York (instead of parking every day in the Flatiron, like they did the previous year). They also re-vamped the menu, adding a delicious lamb burger and fish sandwich.
Their famous lamb marrakech also got some tweaks. Instead of using lamb meat, owner Yassir Raouli now uses a whole lamb shank. It’s served on the bone, which is beside the point since the tender braised meat falls right off it. It’s topped with some caramelized onions and almonds for texture, with a side of cous cous, salad, and spicy harissa sauce. This is the kind of gourmet food you expect at a restaurant, not a food truck. However my behavior of gnawing on the bone to savor every morsel of meat is probably best tolerated on the streets. Price: $10
|Locations Vary; Will Return in the Spring
Follow on Twitter: @bistrotruck
NUMBER 41: CHICKEN BREAST KABOB at KWIK MEAL
I mentioned above that Souvlaki GR uses the thigh meat of the chicken because it has much more flavor than the easy to dry out breast meat. Well, Muhammed Rahman at Kwik Meal has been using the thigh meat for years in his chicken over rice. But this year, he began offering the white breast meat as a chicken kabob over rice. And he’s somehow figured out how to master this forbidden poultry cut.
The chicken is marinated with special spices including cumin and garlic and dotted with red chili flakes. The smoky meat is grilled perfectly maintaining a tender, juicy texture. A serving of the famous green chili sauce adds some tangy heat while the yogurt sauce cools things down a bit. A definite notch up from most halal carts in the city.
|West 45th Street (at Sixth Avenue)