There’s not much to boast about in New Haven. It’s not particularly big, or interesting or exciting. However, if you’re ever stopping by and want to try about two dozen different kinds of food in just a matter of days, and that too cheaply, then you’ve come to right place. For about $4-6, you can get a whole lot of food that is enough to keep you full for at least half a day. New Haven has about 150 food carts at three locations – between the Yale School of Medicine and the hospital, outside the skating rink (next to the Yale School of Management) and near the waterfront. Vendors pay $200 a year for a vending permit, and $280 to the Health Department for a yearly license and inspection. All but the most basic vendors must take a one-day class. In fact, some of the carts also draw more regular incomes from their restaurants, so if you’re ever addicted to a cart, you might be able to find a fancier place to have more of its food.
Lalibela, the Ethiopian food cart (located next to the ice skating rink) is my absolute favorite: their food is much less heavier than other food carts, they have a lot more vegetarian options and frankly, their food is a lot like Indian food (and much better than the Indian food carts). So the next time you’re nearby, get some injera with some of their many different kinds of lentils. Most people also rave about their collared greens, their carrot and bean mixture and the spicy beef curry (even though I’m not a big fan of those). The Alibaba food cart in the same area is another pretty famous one, with the lemon chicken platter as its most wanted dish. Speaking of lemon chicken, the Thai cart opposite the Japanese cart in the same parking lot has a to-die-for pineapple rice with lemon chicken and peanut sauce! Unfortunately, one semester of over-dosing on it means that I won’t be having that anytime in the near future.
For those who want classy food from a truck, try the Caseus Cheese Truck (yes, it belongs to the much talked about Caseus Restaurant). The Truck is supposed to have a tracker, so you’ll always know if it’s in your vicinity. Though I’ve never had food from there – their grilled cheese with guacamole and jambon is supposedly to die-for. To go slightly off-track, I do love the grilled cheese at Zoi’s on Orange Street (three-cheese with tomatoes and the best coleslaw I’ve ever had). Back about Caseus, their tomato soup is also supposed to be delicious.
Another highly raved about food cart is the Tijuana Taco Company, whose outside the Med School. I’ve personally never had their food, just because I’m too lazy to go all the way downtown just to grab lunch. But if you’re ever in the vicinity, do have their burritos.
Even though these carts over a lot of variety, there are a few drawbacks. Most of them have predominantly heavy food or such large portions that you want to burst after eating a meal. How about some healthy options, guys? Not that I’m really into salads and stuff, but I would definintely like food which is not dripping in oil. Secondly, when is a dessert cart finally going to open?! THere’s one ice cream cart outside the School of Management, but let’s face it, in New England weather, how often does one really want to eat ice cream? A cart selling breads, cupcakes and cookies would be perfect. Yes, I have my eye on Katalina’s Cupcakes, who’ve only recently shop opened on Whitney and look pretty promising.
For those who’re more interested in knowing about the people who run these carts and an unfortunately less-than-rosy-account of their existence, you should check this out: http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/sep/03/food-cart-named-desire/
So which food cart is your favorite? And what do you think is missing?