1. Heirloom MKE
A jiggly blob of fresh burrata cheese rests on an heirloom tomato-arugula salad with basil pesto, honey, truffle oil and toasted pine nuts. This beauty is what I see when I open my carryout container and it seems somehow incongruous. Owners Pete (a former supper club exec chef) and Jess Ignatiev were originally set to open a restaurant, but then, well, COVID. They’ve carried over their passion for seasonal, farm-supporting cuisine to the lil kitchen inside this bright-yellow truck, dropping dazzling touches on simpler fare like burgers, fish (cod) fry and fried cheese curds. “We also like to do fun specials during the week,” says Jess, who says their own garden serves as inspiration.
WHERE: From Tosa bars Draft & Vessel and The Fermentorium to Milwaukee Makers Markets.
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2. Vocado MKE
A trailer devoted to that pop culture paean, avocado toast: How has someone not already done this here? Owner Evan Nevels toasted and topped his first homage to the trend last year – with a menu of 10 creations, sweet to savory. Press me for a fave and I’ll say The Prosciutto, with wafer-thin dry-cured ham, honey, Parmesan cheese and fresh cilantro.
WHERE: Brookfield and Greenfield farmers markets and many other events.
This bright-green, 2-year-old truck specializes in halal Malaysian cuisine – meaning that the food was prepared according to Islamic law. Co-owner Amir Ahmad Mohamed Ali is a Rohingya refugee, a native of Burma who spent a chunk of his life in Malaysia making a living as a cook. He and his wife, Majedah Yusuf, prepare dishes to really relish, many incorporating roti, a wheat-flour flatbread, and dosa, a crepe-like pancake. The breads come with sweet or savory fillings. Try the murtabak, a large pancake jam-packed with chicken or beef, cut into squares and served with a tongue-tingling curry-based sauce; and the spicy fried noodles, crisp cucumber slices fanned across the top.
WHERE: Wilson Park (1601 W. Howard Ave.) | 414-595-8994
4. Don Pastor
Many Mexican food-based trucks are in the simple handheld classics business, by that I mean street tacos – double corn tortillas wrapped around a meat filling dotted with raw onion and fresh cilantro, some salsa and fresh lime. And many do them well. Don Pastor does them really well, but that’s not my favorite thing to eat from this Riverwest-based truck. No, I go for the tortas stuffed with meat, queso, refried beans, lettuce and tomato, avocado and sour cream. And I seriously dig their creamy, cheesy elotes – Mexican street corn slathered in mayo, a rich, savory treat.
WHERE: East Center and West Pierce streets.
5. Pete’s Pops
From a single pushcart to now three permanent locations, community-driven Pete’s has made good on its promise to spread positivity through frozen treats. He – meaning founder Pete Cooney – also makes very fine pops, in summer-soused flavors like salted watermelon and pineapple jalapeno. (Avocado was one of his first flavors and still among his best.)
WHERE: The carts are also out and about on the regular, at 68th and North in Tosa and at Brady and Prospect, among other spots.
This nifty little culinary enterprise fuses plant-based Asian and Latin American cuisines. Besides Thursday nights at Burnhearts bar (4-10 p.m.), they’re doing a steady gig at Cactus Club on Sundays, banging out brunch (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) – fun stuff, too, including “beefy mami” – vegan ramen, a Filipino-style congee (savory rice porridge) with “bogus” egg, biscuits with peppered brown gravy, Mexican concha cookies and double-chocolate doughnuts.
WHERE: Keep up with Maya’s whereabouts on Facebook.