Culinary Nomad’s Italian Flag Chicken Cutlet features a panko-breaded chicken breast, pesto, roasted red peppers and mozzarella on a toasted bun. Photographer: Duane Tinkey.
Writer: Seeta Mangra-Stubbs
With summer coming to a close, be sure to visit these little-known and new food trucks before the season ends.
Now my favorite food truck, Culinary Nomad is owned and run by Chef Andrew Cardillo with Nina Cardillo, his wife, running the window. After watching their social media for a year since their opening, we finally checked them out when they were outside Peace Tree Brewing in the East Village. I got the chicken spiedini salad, a well-balanced combination of balsamic, chicken, fresh vegetables and shaved parmesan. My husband—a lover of meatball sandwiches—opted for the Nomad Meatball and gave an approving “yum” after his first bite.
Including dessert and drinks, our total was almost $40, but it was worth the price. The quality of ingredients is higher than with most trucks, and the chef’s training and expertise come through in every dish. It’s a step above most. Find their schedule and menus at culinarynomaddsm.com.
This colorful truck, located at 1211 Sampson St. on the east side, brings a modernity to the scene. Unlike a lot of taco trucks, Alan’s takes credit cards and gives you a beeper to notify you when your food is ready. The prices are reasonable—we spent $20 on a huge birria torta, two generous asada tacos and two Jarritos. To the side there’s one picnic table, but we ate in our car, and the to-go packing was sturdy. Both meals came hot with plenty of toppings including radishes and cooked onions, but the meats alone had enough flavor that the garnishes seemed superfluous.
Two Ol’ Chefs
If you want something meaty or fried, this truck is a solid choice. They frequent locations such as Uptown Ankeny, Iowa Distilling Co. in Cumming and Brightside Aleworks in Altoona. It’s a straightforward operation with a small but powerful menu including smashburgers, brisket, pulled pork, tenderloins, fries and onion rings, including a jalapeno option. My husband ordered a single smashburger with fries. It was a large portion, and the seasoning was intense. I got a pulled pork sandwich with slaw on top, and Betty, one of the chefs, cheered me on for ordering properly.
While they take cards, we paid in cash, spending $23 and saving on the 50-cent card fee. Bottled water is free, and they sometimes give kids free ice pops. Find their schedule and menu on Facebook.
In addition to trying new food trucks, you can also revisit these staples:
An unassuming white truck at the corner of 19th Street and University Avenue (in the Advanced Auto Parts parking lot) boasts some of the best tacos in the city. Tacos Degollado never disappoints—you can tell from the line alone. It’s been there forever for a reason.
Wingz on Wheelz
Located across the lot from Tacos Degollado, this place gets high praise. If you need to feed a brood, you can order 100 wings for $90, but you can also go small with as few as five. In addition to wings, you can get fried swai fish, fried shrimp and fried catfish.
Aaron Byrd. Photographer: Bob Blanchard.
Street Eats DSM
One of the original and longest-standing trucks in the city, Street Eats is still bringing their A game. But don’t look for the gray, road-themed truck. Aaron Byrd (pictured above) and his team have a new pale-yellow wrap with a pink and purple Des Moines skyline on the side. The brisket grilled cheese continues to be a favorite.
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