Occasionally, I’ll hear the faint jingle of the ice cream truck luring children to their ultimate ice cream demise. I know mine used to be the chocolate dipped chocolate cone. Long gone seem those days I would chase that truck down the street, waving my dollar in the air, pigtails bouncing to the pace of my quick strides. Like so many people I talk food with, I have such warm and wonderful childhood memories associated with these “kid” foods. Everyone has something. For me that something is traditional Thanksgiving foods, my grandpa’s spaghetti and meatballs, and broiled t-bone lamb chops. Interesting mix, I know.
Cafeteria Boston has capitalized on this principle. It’s called Cafeteria and although it boasts “Tray Chic” dining, I’d probably go on a limb and say it’s a little more tray than chic. The interior has a modern feel but the food options transport me back to my school cafeteria or my little Long Island home dinner table.
Hello Aurora and Cynthia!
Meatloaf – all natural grass-fed beef, mashed potatoes, spicy ketchup glaze
spaghetti and meatballs, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese
grilled fontina, mozzarella, tomato, arugula served with tomato soup
I give the folks at Cafeteria brownie points for creativity. That being said, I was not blown away by their food. They have some really yummy bites — I have a real soft spot for tomato soup and grilled cheese so I’ll never diss that! However, I couldn’t eat all of Cynthia’s meal. My meatballs were a huge letdown. I wanted to feel like I was eating my Grandpa’s meatballs and spaghetti, which already is a high bar that’s been set. But I felt that experience is something Cafeteria is trying to deliver. The sauce was simple and nice, but the meatballs were so unbelieveably dry that even the tomato sauce couldn’t prevent my mouth from feeling the same way. I’m willing to forgive based on my judgment of this one dish, plus the nice orangy Lunch Lady was a nice cleansing way to wash it all down.
279a Newbury St
Boston, MA 02115
Photo Courtesy of Roaming Hunger
At first glance, this brightly colored truck looks like it just drove out of a children’s book, but there is nothing amateur about this truck’s seafood. The force behind Brother Truckers is Chef David Stein, who saw the food truck wave as an opportunity for creative freedom… and when creative freedom means delicious, high quality seafood dishes ready in the snap, then I’m all for it!
I was working in the office last Wednesday when the craving hit. I needed some food truck grub. The night prior, I walked down Boylston Street to meet up with friends at City Table (excellent small bites on the app menu and a great Moscow Mule if you’re into bucks!) and passed the likes of the Grilled Cheese Nation Truck and Frozen Hoagies. My inner fat kid was dragging her feet, begging me to stop and sample some treats, but my obsessive fear of being late got the best of me. Ah the perils of punctuality.
Fast forward to Wednesday around noon time and that pang of regret in not stopping came on in full force. My coworker Sam was a willing lunch mate and off we sauntered toward the Back Bay Cluster Site adjacent to the 100 Clarendon garage. We spotted The Cupcakory (mixed feelings — decent cupcakes in my past experience, but when I asked for a business card I was stared at as if I’d just asked for an arm), Grilled Cheese Nation (GAH! stop following me around and tormenting me with your cheesy, fatty deliciousness!), and Go Fish!.
I was intrigued by the daily specials and ended up ordering the catfish tacos and a ginger lime/lemonade. The large heavily tattooed gentleman who took my order and I had some friendly banter back and forth discussing proper ordering etiquette at a food truck, which includes waiting for your beverage before walking away.
After I was handed my drink, I stood in a large hungry crowd eagerly awaiting the call of my name. It’s times like these that having a name like Shmendrick would be useful. I got tricked by another ‘Katie’ who also ordered fish tacos. When my order was up, I asked if they had any bags and received a playful “Yes we do, would you like one?” from the sizable man who took my order. On a normal day, he might have gotten an eye roll or even worse, the stink eye. Instead, I played along and rephrased my question, “Do you have and can I have a bag?” I was rewarded with a bag and a “I just like being an ass hole.” Nothing like a healthy side of sass with your tacos.
$10 bucks for the tacos and the drink seemed a little steep considering the portion size, but I’m a supporter of Boston’s food truck movement, so I’m happy to bite the bullet for a tasty treat. The tacos were good. The corn tortilla was a little sad and cold and wet after my 5 minute walk back to the office. That’s probably my only complaint. The taco was filled with mixed beans, grilled moist pieces of catfish, chilled pico de gallo, crunchy red cabbage, spicy aioli, scallions and crisp tortilla strips. Washed down with my refreshing drink, this ended up being a victorious lunch.
I was feeling spontaneous that day with the daily specials. I definitely liked it enough though to give some of their staple menu items a try. Until my next stint in the office, you guys will have to save me some fish and chips.