Six FiDi Grubspots with Brian Hoffman and Urban Oyster.
A myriad of food trucks hover around midtown during lunch due to the plethora of adjacent office buildings, so naturally most of my Grubspots thus far have centered around this radius. When fellow food-blogger Brian Hoffman told me about his Wednesday Fidi foodtruck tours, I booked the very first spot and impatiently awaited the day. I arrived at noon on June 20th to a tour of 8 on Pine and Water to Grubspot #1, Veronica’s Kitchen for their signature Jerk Chicken. The skin was roasted to a dark brown crisp, and packed with intense flavor. The mixture of spices in Veronica’s secret rub produced a lingering kick that was balanced with the clean profile of the meat. It was tender, with the veggies and rice below absorbing all the juices from the meat making each bite exciting yet comforting. The portion was hefty, but I came to the tour hungry so I was ready for more.
Grubspot #2 was Adel’s for their #1 Halal. Needless to say, Halal fare is plentiful in NYC but Brian assured us this was worth a try. My bowl came with the familiar fried falafel balls sitting atop proper long grain rice. Topped with white sauce, it looked exactly like the others I’d sampled, but by first bite, I was blown away. The shell was crunchy, which was expected fresh from the fryer, but the insides were unbelievably moist and smooth bursting with fresh chickpea flavor. It was at once rich yet light in texture and tasted uniquely and deliciously different. I was sold.
We walked towards Water St and found a bright Sliders truck, plastered in red, white and blue. Owner and Chef Will and Ben cooked us each a meatball slider. The bun was standard fare, but the star of the show was in between the bread. Each was substantial and meaty and the insides were moist yet crumbly like a burger. The profile was balanced, with the sharpness from the basil tomato sauce countering the sweet and savory meat. I would have liked a more browned shell, however, but the tenderness made up for it.
Grubspot #4 was a favorite of mine, which I visited on Day 4 of my challenge, Bistro Truck. We were greeted by Yassir and Elsa at the window with Adam happily pointing to my StreetGrubEveryday sticker on their window. We received a bowl of their chicken sausage, which I had wanted to try post-June, so this was welcome news. The rice was fluffy and the sausage moist with a nice firm texture that showcased the mild flavors of the meat. All of this was of course overshadowed by that insanely delicious bistro sauce, a mix of creamy mayo and a combination of spices. It truly made the dish, as it had with my lamb burger, and I’d forgotten all about its awesomeness until now.
Grubspot #5 was the famous orange and black Korilla truck. I visited them later in the evening for their Ribeye of the Tiger which you can read about here. For the tour, they served up their tofu taco – fresh chunks of silky tofu, monteray jack, kim chi, tomato salsa, and rice in a corn tortilla. It was spicy, sweet, and fresh, and tasted lighter than it looked.
The final Grubspot was Wafels and Dinges which I’d visited earlier in Central Park. Brian ordered de throwdown wafel (the one used to beat Bobby Flay) and assured us that it would be better than Nutella. He was right. Layered with a thick and creamy ribbon of speculoos (it’s like a biscuit butter, with the color and texture of peanut butter), it was sweet, and rich, and tasted familiar yet different – like a creamy blend of sweet biscuits and sugar cookies. It was delicious, and served to counter the light airy texture of the wafel, with the whipped cream acting as mediator to the two different textures and flavors.
About the tour. Brian offers walking streetfood tours on Wednesdays (Financial District) and Fridays (Midtown) through Urban Oyster. More information can be found in the Food Cart Tour section of their website. The tour generally covers 6 trucks/carts and lasts roughly two hours. It is a walking tour, so obviously bring comfortable shoes. Urban Oyster was great – friendly, efficient, and their staff answered all of my questions in a timely manner. They picked and showcased very important vendors in this small-business landscape of New York – focusing on bringing you hidden gems that would otherwise fly low on the radar. Tours in general are only as good as their tour-guides, and Brian was spectacular. I learned a great deal about the history of Fidi (things NYers should probably already know), and most importantly I left completely stuffed and wanting to go out exploring some more – which I did!
About Brian: When he has the unusual luxury of time, he also eats his way through NYC in search of the “best of” in food – everything from ice cream, to beer, to dumplings, to pizza, and more recently hot dogs. His list of Grubspots comes from none other than Time Out New York’s very own Annual Best 100 things to eat. Brian’s journey? To simply eat all 100 dishes, and upon completion, concoct a 10 best list of his favorites on EatThisNY. Sounds impossible? He’s done it for the past three years straight. Suddenly, my little 30-day challenge doesn’t seem so tough! Brian was awesome for the tour – friendly, informative and super hungry himself- and his expertise in NY’s food scene definitely earned my respect and admiration. He uncovered gems I never knew existed and now I realize I have a plethora of wonderful StreetGrubs in lower Manhattan left to taste. Thanks Brian and Urban Oyster for the fun and satiating tour of Fidi!