After being postponed numerous times, it finally happened! The Harlem Food Truck Rally came off this past Saturday on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 117th Street. The weather gave us a reprieve from the rain, though the wind and cold was another story, but we are Harlemites … who are hungry … who like to eat … a lot … so we queued up for truck salvation.
With so many postponements, I forgot about the Food Truck Rally until I bumped into it en route to a coffee meeting. I became instantly hungry (see, I didn’t lie—Harlem, hungry, eat). Trucks lined the west side of FDB from 118th to 117th streets and into the empty lots on the block. It was on the earlier side of the rally, so it was a little light on patrons, but that changed quickly.
As per usual, I had to review everything available first to narrow it down to the top few before I ultimately decided on the “winnah”! I saw grilled cheese from Gorilla Cheese (@gcnyc1), which was serving up some decadent grilled creations; @TheCrepeTruck was soothing the palates of Francophiles into a food coma; and the skillful owners of the first New York City hibachi truck (@HibachiHeaven) were slicing and dicing for the crowd.
Had you been craving an arepa or any other authentic Columbian food, @PalenqueFood truck was there to quell that beast. But if it were only American staples good for tailgating, hangovers and smiles that would do, the @MrNiceGuyTruck was serving sliders, wings and fries. I can’t forget the perennial favorite @LukesLobster Truck whipping out Maine’s best on a warm buttered bun.
I narrowed down my victors to two. I started on the long line for @ShortysNYC to recapture my days in West Philly at University of Pennsylvania and late-night runs to get cheesesteaks at Billybob’s or Abner’s (provolone, not whiz!). And though the truck is from New York City, the authentic bread is from Philly.
Ultimately, there was one truck that was calling my name. It was familiar. I had to try it, long line and all. As I waited, neighborhood friends emerged and fell into line for the @JerkShackNYC Truck. I had to get a curry chicken roti. Well, the food gods were forever in my favor as I got the last roti skin before they needed 15 minutes to re-up. Yes! I bid everyone an “over-n-out” and headed home to get down.
I couldn’t wait to open my container to greatness, featuring a perfect serving of boneless curry chicken and callaloo with a roti skin on the side. I went in until it was gone. Damn! It’s gone … or is it?
Turns out my foodie senses steered me straight to the food truck sister of Harlem eatery Elsie’s Caribbean Cafe (@elsiecafe) on Seventh Avenue and 135th Street. I knew I had that callaloo before at the Harlem Food Fest with rice and peas and codfish fritters. I’m so happy to see the business’ growth and progression. Keep going!
Congratulations and thank yous to the organizers of the Harlem Food Truck Rally. Looking forward to the next!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packaages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.