New Haven is a really great place to eat – if you’re downtown, that is. If you’re on the outskirts of campus (like me), you’ve got to walk at least a mile to get to the main restaurants, and this poses a problem if you have a limited lunch hour or want to forego eating at the ridiculously limited and extremely overpriced cafeteria.
Enter the Food Truck. There are tons of them scattered throughout the city, and they are generally smaller and cheaper versions of the options you’d find downtown. Some are roaming, and some are static – but they’re all high quality and delicious. I know whenever I forget lunch, I can go to “the carts” at the Yale Whale (aka Ingalls Rink parking lot) and find Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, BBQ, Japanese, and Mediterranean options, just to name a few, and for $5-$8, I can get a hot meal with enough food to eat later if I really wanted to.
While I tend to frequent the Thai cart for some super spicy tom yum soup, the Japanese cart for sushi or my new favorite cart – the Ethiopian one with freshly grilled beef/chicken/fish over rice with salad and veggies, I’ve been to the Mexican one for taco salads or fajitas, the Mediterranean one for lamb and rice, and the Indian cart for tikka masala and (totally not spicy) vindaloo. I keep saying all they need is a salad cart….
Another thing that New Haven does well is the dessert truck – the two that I see most frequently are for Sugar Bakery cupcakes, and cannoli from Meriano’s Bake Shoppe. Sugar rose to fame when they won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, and Meriano’s is a local bakery with a few locations that donates some of the proceeds to the oncology department at Yale New Haven Hospital. I’ve yet to eat a cannoli, but I’ve had many cupcakes, and they’re all worth it.
The Whale is perhaps 1/8-1/4 of a mile from me. While I tend to be a creature of habit, I’ve recently branched out from the Thai, Japanese, and Mexican carts (the food is good and I like the people 🙂 ) to the Ethiopian grill, Indian, and Kati roll stands. The lines can get long, and there’s a limited timeframe (roughly 1130-2), but if you go early enough you can take your pick. The other fun part is that all these carts are tied to restaurants in the downtown area.
I may be a creature of habit, but variety is the spice of life. And with three Mexican and three Thai carts, “variety” is not terribly strong with this location. Luckily, some of the other trucks are city-travelers, and my coworker and I have taken a field trip or two to find The Meat Truck, a BBQ truck that has a delicious array of BBQ, sides, and even a slight Latin flair.
The YHP employees in my department frequent the parking lot a few times per week, and even some of my out-of-town visitors have asked to stop at said food trucks. It goes without saying that I’m always happy to oblige. There are fancier places with more options, but where else can you get sushi, spicy soup, or a fajita burrito, all within a few feet of each other?