Mpls. street food 101

A new downtown ordinance makes street food a reality. But is it delicious?

by Raghav Mehta

The absence of street food vendors in a bustling, pedestrian-ridden city like Minneapolis is perplexing. While there are an endless number of restaurants and obligatory fast-food chains, street carts, for the most part, go unseen. But a recently passed motion permitting street food carts in downtown may mean more options for hungry Minneapolitans. Spearheaded by council member Lisa Goodman , the city council voted unanimously in April to allow licensed food carts to operate in downtown Minneapolis. âÄú[The ordinance] will bring additional liveliness to our downtown,âÄù said Doug Kress , an aid for Goodman, âÄúThis only encompasses the downtown improvement district, but that doesnâÄôt mean we canâÄôt grow from that.âÄù Under the ordinance, potential vendors would be required to submit an application and detail their plans and desired location. âÄúItâÄôs an additional amenity, an additional vibrancy and additional opportunities for downtown. It may even bring people downtown who may not come out because theyâÄôre always afraid of more higher-end restaurants,âÄù Kress said. While street cart vendors arenâÄôt out in full force quite yet, you can still find mobile food hawkers scattered at farmers markets around the city. HereâÄôs a couple to look for: Chef Shack Opening in 2007, Chef Shack has earned a reputation for being MinneapolisâÄô definitive street vendor, offering a variety of unique delicacies that include beef tongue tacos and vegan beer brats. Operating as a mobile kitchen, Chef Shack is run by experienced cooks Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson. Chef ShackâÄôs soft shell crab sandwich is a savory mixture of mixed greens, pesto, tartar sauce and tomato. Priced steeply at $10, the sandwich is uniquely delicious and well worth the cost. Along with Chef ShackâÄôs more creative foods are simpler treats that include Indian spiced mini donuts and hand-cut french fries with bacon ketchup. Perhaps the only downside to the Chef Shack is its cost, with prices ranging from $5 to $10. The Chef Shack is currently open at Kingfield and Mill City farmers markets and has two more locations opening in June in Northeast and Uptown. Foxy Falafel Foxy Falafel is a new one-unit station run by South Dakota native Erica Strait. Inspired by her affinity for falafels and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, Strait started Foxy Falafel shortly after learning how to make the chickpea-filled delights from an Israeli chef while living in New York. Strait was attracted to Minneapolis because of its atmosphere and abundance of farmers markets. Priced affordably at $5 per falafel, Strait uses organic ingredients that include sprouted chickpeas, hummus and seasoned cabbage. Sauces include cucumber yogurt, lemony Green Tahini and garlic-tinged but spicy Tunisian Harissa. Foxy Falafel will be around all summer, bouncing between Northeast, Kingfield and Uptown farmers markets. Tip: Because street food vendorsâÄô locations are often variable, it helps to follow them on Twitter if you want to track them down: