Jewish Food Trucks Hit the Road

Challah Dogs, Latke Tacos and Deli Go Mobile


By Margaret Eby

Published July 20, 2012, issue of July 27, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When culinary historians look back at the first two decades of the 21st century, they’ll no doubt conclude that this was the golden age of food trucks. Brightly colored trucks with kitschy names roll out onto the streets of cities across North America each day, dishing out delicacies like artisanal ice cream sandwiches, snacks from the Far East and gourmet tacos roadside.

This is particularly good news for lovers of Jewish cuisine. From Austin to San Diego to Atlanta, trucks have been doling out a range of Jewish and kosher food. In Los Angeles you can munch on egg rolls stuffed with corned beef; in Toronto, sample divine deli sandwiches served out of a truck with a pickle spear, and in New York, feast on a perfectly fried falafel.

Though the Jewish gourmet food truck may be a product of the 21st century, its roots go back to the early 20th century Jewish street food of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Men with knish carts plucked savory pastries out of warming drawers, serving up a quick and portable lunch for workers on the go, while Jewish families bought ingredients from pushcart peddlers. “You could pick up a cup of seltzer, a chunk of bread, a herring and a pickle and cobble together a funny little meal,” Jane Ziegelman, the curator of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum Food Series told the Forward.

In the roughly 100 years since then, the tradition of street food spread across the country. Pushcarts morphed into venues both for those seeking a quick, kosher lunch or for Jewish food enthusiasts less concerned with dietary restrictions. It wasn’t always the most appealing cuisine: Greasy knishes sold from lackluster food trucks ruled the scene for decades. But in May 2011, former “Top Chef” contestant Spike Mendelsohn sparked a revival of moving deli done right with his Sixth and Rye truck, which had D.C. customers waiting in half-hour lines for mouth-watering pastrami. Dozens of like-minded foodies followed in his wake, breathing new life into the kosher food truck scene.

Some trucks are strictly kosher; while others just celebrate the soul of Jewish-American cuisine. In honor of a century of mobile Jewish-American fare, we selected the stand-out Jewish food trucks from all over the states (and Canada, too).

If you could have one food truck stop outside of your office for lunch, which would it be?

The Deli on Wheels

Rolling Reuben’s in Atlanta, Ga.

Caplansky’s Deli Truck in Toronto

New York on Rye in San Diego, Calif.

A Taste of the Homeland

Moses Falafel in Austin, Texas

Da Falafel King in Honolulu, Hawaii

Taim Mobile in New York City

The Culinary Diaspora

Takosher in Los Angeles, Calif.

Chutzpah Truck in Orlando, Fla.

Schmuck With a Truck in Los Angeles, Calif.

M.O. Eggrolls in Los Angeles, Calif.

K-Wheelz in Dallas, Texas

Old World Food Truck in San Francisco, Calif.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.