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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, April 15

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Food Trucks Fri Sep 18 2015

Friday Foodpic: Mr. Greek Gyros

IMG_2787.jpgSubmit your pics to the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi

Food Trucks Fri Jun 26 2015

Friday Foodpic: Prosciutto et al.

18707123739_6c0179e4cb_z.jpgPicture by Mel Hill Photography from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (1)

Food Trucks Fri Mar 13 2015

Friday Foodpic: Cemitas Pueblo

16599668950_7d8b33c24f_z.jpgPicture by pinkkittystudios from the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

Robyn Nisi

Food Trucks Fri Apr 18 2014

Street-Food Brings Culture to Chicago

cr3.jpg"I think of [street food] as the antidote to fast food; it's the clear alternative to the king, the clown and the colonel. It's faster, and chances are it's healthier than something at a traditional fast food restaurant. I would much rather give my money to a neighbor or an individual than to a gigantic corporation that owns half the world. Maybe it's naïve of me, but I prefer food made by an identifiable human that's actually cooking." -Anthony Bourdain

Street food is pure food--no frills, no tipping, no chatting. A simple transaction of money and treasured sustenance, a cultural exchange rooted in the most basic of human commonalities. I grew up eating street food. Right at sunrise, my grandmother and I would meander through the markets of Shanghai, grabbing a box of shengjian before hustling to our favorite congee stall. The smoky and savory aroma of jianbing, chickens squawking, tea-boiled eggs, the grassiness of fresh produce wafted through the air as we ate on little plastic stools, watching people ride past on motorcycles and bikes.

Continue reading this entry »

Judy Wu / Comments (1)

Food Trucks Fri Oct 11 2013

Have Lunch or Dinner at the Chicago Food Truck Rally Today

City of Chicago Food Truck RallyThe City hasn't been terribly friendly to food trucks, saddling them with onerous location restrictions and expensive certification procedures, but it's holding out an olive branch today in the form of the City of Chicago Food Truck Rally -- and you benefit.

From 11am to 8pm, eight trucks -- Beavers Coffee and Donuts, Bridgeport Pasty, Chicago Cupcake, Chicago Lunchbox, The Fat Shallot, Jerk 312, Porkchop and The Salsa Truck -- will be gathered on Daley Plaza, along with a tent serving Goose Island beer and wine.

Mike & Lisa perform live from 11:30am to 1:30pm, and DJ Lisa René spins from 5 to 7:30pm.

Andrew Huff

Food Trucks Tue Apr 16 2013


If you're interested in shutting down your thriving medical practice (or quitting your insurance paperwork-processing gig) and starting your own food truck, the Institute for Justice (which has been a huge advocate for the city's food truck vendor community) is holding a daylong workshop Saturday, April 27th at the U of C Law School (1111 E. 60th St.) for newbies to the game. Topics covered are how to navigate licensing, hiring, marketing, and business strategies; meals included. Registration required; event is free to attend.

Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

Food Trucks Sat Aug 11 2012

Food Truck Social Returns with New Location, More Trucks and Expanded Music Line-Up

The 2nd annual Chicago Food Truck Social presented by Time Out Chicago, West Town Chamber of Commerce and Empty Bottle returns this year on Saturday, Aug. 25 and now Sunday, Aug. 26 from noon to 10pm, moving from its previous location to the up-and-coming Chicago Avenue Corridor between Wood and Wolcott (1800-1899 W. Chicago Ave).

Food truck social 2011.jpgThere will be 14 featured food trucks per day, a live music stage presented by the Empty Bottle and over 30 retail and sponsor vendors. After the recent ruling and subsequent buzz, the conversation this time around is sure to be different.

Find complete food truck participants and scheduled music acts on their website and check out our preview of last year's.

PS. Scott Lucas and the Married Men will be playing one of those days; if you haven't heard them and you heart The National, you owe it to yourself.

All proceeds benefit local non-profits: the West Town Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Park Advisory Council, and Share Our Strength, a national non-profit that is attempting to end childhood hunger in America.

Brandy Gonsoulin

Food Trucks Mon Apr 23 2012

The Chicago Food Truck Saga Gets Legal

photo (1).JPGI have a recurring dream that resembles the Boston Tea Party. But instead of a group of colonists throwing bags of tea into the Boston Harbor, a group of restaurant owners are attacking a food truck, and throwing out cupcakes and pork belly tacos into the Chicago River while Glenn Keefer chuckles wickedly as he fires up his grill. In my dream, I wake up in that same food truck to a swarm of aldermen coming at me, their mouths twisting into a contorted shape, the words "200 feet" slowly coming out like a scene from The Goonies. I quickly toss out a foiled-wrapped sandwich to a guy dressed in a suit before I speed off, Tweeting my location. When I arrive, instead of my usual lunch crowd I'm met by Mayor Rahm, dressed in a tutu and pink tights, who politely hands me a ticket for "premeditated-violation" while Tom Tunney casually munches on a cinnamon roll the size of my head. "Want a bite?" he asks.

It's hard to sit here and not satire the Chicago food truck saga -- for many people (ahem, brick and mortars) and those whose have large vehicle phobias, this is serious business. But as the only city that doesn't let food truckers cook on their trucks, yet claims a coveted space as a food mecca, it becomes kind of hard.

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (5)

Food Trucks Sun Apr 01 2012

Tiny Tots to Take Over Loop Monday


Hard at Work at Tiny Tots' Prep Kitchen.

As office workers spill out of buildings in search of a quick lunch on Monday, the newest addition to the food truck community will be opening for its first day in business. Will it be empanadas? Korean barbecue? Cupcakes?

No. This truck will sell grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And it won't be a truck--this business runs on Big Wheels and Radio Flyer wagons.

Tiny Tots, the brainchild of Matty Jeffries and Katrina Bell, is the first child-run mobile food service in Chicago. Jeffries and Bell, who met in second grade at a suburban elementary school, saw a missing option in the burgeoning food truck scene: simple food delivered by a simple mechanism that doesn't waste gas and cleverly circumvents current food truck laws. On a test run conducted earlier this week, Bell pulled a wagon of her wares down a West Loop street, her dog Rufus at her side. "Mac and cheese bites, five dollars!" she yelled, as people approached her wagon, dollar bills in hand. After one hour, she had sold out, hardly to her surprise. "My mom makes good food," she said. Tiny Tots' future plans include using locally grown produce for their taco lunch platter, as well as opening a lemonade stand.

Robyn Nisi

Food Trucks Tue Mar 27 2012

Chicago Mobile Food Symposium


Join entrepreneurs, scholars, advocates, government officials, chefs and foodies on Saturday, April 14 at the University of Chicago Law School for a community symposium on mobile food in Chicago. The event will include a session for food vendors on understanding local legal issues, a panel discussion, and a food truck meetup. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Attendees can register here.

The event is organized by the My Streets! My Eats! campaign and the Institute for Justice.

Chicago Mobile Food Symposium
8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
April 14, 2012
University of Chicago Law School Auditorium
1111 East 60th Street

Gemma Petrie

Food Trucks Sat Feb 11 2012

e.Leaven's Food Truck Boasts Special V-Day Menu

e.Leaven Food Company, a combination deli and artisan bakery, has been bringing joy to the mouths of River North at its Ontario Street location since 2009. Now it's hitting the streets with a brand-spanking new food truck that hosts such treats as an Aji-Braised Short Rib Piewich, their signature Macarons, and a unique Cake in a Cup dessert.


Continue reading this entry »

Alexa DeTogne

Food Trucks Tue Nov 08 2011

Free Starfruit This Friday

starfruit.jpgLike a lot of smart people, Starfruit Café's mobile truck is getting the hell out of Chicago for the winter. To thank Chicagoans for a very successful maiden voyage, the truck will be circling the city with free treats on Nov. 11 before it departs for Los Angeles.

You can track the Starfruit truck by following them on Twitter (@StarfruitCafe). The truck has plans to return "once Old Man Winter retreats." So... June?

Laura Sant

Food Trucks Wed Oct 26 2011

Two Trucks Enter, One Truck Leaves

Chicago's food truck fleet grows by two this week, just as news broke that one truck was closing up shop.

Wow Bao, Lettuce Entertain You's popular Asian bun concept, launches its food truck (or van) today at 11:30am at 600 W. Chicago Ave., aka Groupon headquarters. The truck will sell two-bao boxes for $5 -- which seems a little steep since they're $1.49 each in the restaurant. Delivery charge, I suppose. The truck will also sell housemade ginger ale for $3 and bottled water for $1. In a nice twist, it'll take cash or credit. Follow @baomouth for further details.

ducknroll.jpgOn Thursday, Oct. 27, the new DucknRoll truck makes its debut with a party from 6 to 8pm in front of Calumet Photo, 1111 N. Cherry St. on Goose Island. The truck starts official lunch service on Monday the 31st, offering up a range of Vietnamese-inspired bánh mí, adzuki bean-cinnamon donuts and mango-lychee salsa. Keep up with it at @ducknrolltruck.

Meanwhile, Darius Williams, owner of the Cupcake Gallery, Uptown Pie Co. and the Pie Machine food truck, announced via a PDF on his site that he's closing up shop. The truck has been sold, and the stores' last day will be Nov. 27. Williams' cupcakes and pies will be available on the Mama Green's Goodies truck starting today through Nov. 27.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Food Trucks Mon Oct 17 2011

Lillie's Q Meat Mobile Launches Tuesday

lillie's q meat mobile

I was all set to tell you to keep an eye out for the latest food truck to hit the streets, the Lillie's Q Meat Mobile, at lunch today, but I received an email this morning letting me know its launch has been delayed until tomorrow due to mechanical difficulties. Which just means now you have more time to prepare.

The Meat Mobile will arrive at Ampco System Parking lot located at 28 N. Franklin St. around 11am. The wheeled outpost of the popular Wicker Park barbecue restaurant will serve Chef Charlie McKenna's pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches on brioche. The sandwiches are $10 (cash only) and come with either coleslaw or baked beans and a choice of one of Lillie's Q's five housemade sauces (Smoky, Hot Smoky, Carolina, Carolina Gold, Ivory) on the side.

Keep an eye on Facebook and of course Twitter for updates.

Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

Food Trucks Wed Oct 12 2011

Tacos on Wheels

bigstar3.jpgThere has been much speculation over how Paul Kahan would get around the law that still bars people from cooking on food trucks; turns out, he's giving away the tacos for free.

A tweet last night announced the "maiden voyage" of the truck at the corner of Fulton and Wood, where people were trickling in and out for the fish and al pastor tacos. Far fewer people than you might expect, actually, considering the operative words here are "free" and "tacos."

Continue reading this entry »

Laura Sant / Comments (1)

Food Trucks Thu Oct 06 2011

Sure to Hit Your Sweet Spot

image001.jpgLadies and gentlemen, boy and girls. You probably knew it was coming, but might not have expected it. Well, the day has come. The world's very first macaron truck, Sweet Spot, is launching in Chicago. To celebrate, there will be a launch party Thursday night (tonight) at The Burlington in Logan Square. Sweet Spot Macarons is the creation of 2009 French Pastry School graduate Galit Greenfield. So if you have a soft spot for the sugary sweet, melt in your mouth almond sandwich cookie delicacies, come out and celebrate tonight. Or at the very least be sure to be one of the first to spot the truck as it makes its way around town. You can follow the Sweet Spot Macarons truck on twitter and facebook. Launch party runs 8pm to 10pm at 3425 W. Fullerton Ave.

Katie Johnson

Food Trucks Fri Sep 30 2011

Support Your Local Food Trucks

Support Your Local Food Trucks

Andersonville gallery Haymaker teamed up with designer Meng Yang of Know Your Flag to produce the above print in support of Chicago's nascent food truck scene.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Food Trucks Wed Sep 21 2011

Food Trucks, Visualized


Image copyright Drew Wasserman

This is a pretty awesome visualization of keywords related to Chicago's food truck scene -- with truck names, stops and signature items -- created by Drew Wasserman for ChicagoNow. To come up with the list and relative sizes, he analyzed each truck's Twitter and Facebook fans to see who was the biggest.

Andrew Huff

Food Trucks Wed Sep 14 2011

Suzy's Samosas Launches

hautesausage.jpegChicago's very own top 4 MasterChef finalist, Suzy Singh is making a splash on the food truck scene. After touring all day Tuesday on the Big Sausage truck with Rich Levy of Haute Sausage, the collaboration will continue as Suzy's Samosas launches on Monday, Sept. 19 through Sept. 26. The truck location is being kept secret, but you can get a clue of where the action will be at if you sign up for Singh's newsletter on her website. There will be a cap of 200 Samosas sold per day, so you'll have to be quick to get your hands on one.

The soft-launch opening on Friday (Sept. 16) will include the following samosas : "I'm SO Sweet" (sweetened strawberries and cream samosa with a ganache dipping sauce, topped with powdered sugar), "The Addiction" (tandoori samosa stuffed with butter chicken, served with a yogurt and cucumber raita), "The 'Fall'ing for You" (cinnamon spiced samosa stuffed with butternut squash and served with marshmallow fluff), and the "Original" (traditional potato and sweet pea samosa served with an umami mint and cilantro chutney). Hungry yet? Follow Suzy's Samosas on Twitter.

Katie Johnson

Food Trucks Fri Jul 22 2011

Better Than GoGurt

Forever-Yogurt-Truck.jpgThe heat wave we've been experiencing this week will make anyone a lover of the FroYO offerings at Forever Yogurt. But maybe you haven't had a chance to make it to one of their 3 Chicago locations yet. No worries. Starting this Saturday (7/23) you will be able to catch them on-the-go with the launch of the ForeverTruck. Catch them on Saturday at The Big Dig volleyball tourney at North Ave Beach. Keep up with where they're headed next via their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Katie Johnson

Food Trucks Thu Jun 23 2011

Big Star's Big New Truck

Paul Kahan flew west last week, causing an Internet sensation by tweeting that he'd inadvertently brought several knives through security. He didn't have to worry about TSA giving him extra attention on the return flight, though. That's because he drove home in what will soon be a Big Star food truck.

big star food truck paul kahan

Kahan tweeted photos of the truck, "complete with vintage Zep tapes!," Wednesday afternoon. He purchased the truck that previously belonged to Oregon's Cuisine Machine and drove it back, arriving Wednesday.

The truck will need to be repainted and otherwise prepped, and so far there's no set date for launch. According to a spokesman, "Big Star is just so busy they don't have staff to spare to implement anything." Eater previously reported that the truck would sit on the restaurant's lot, possibly selling Mexican shave ice until new food truck legislation is passed. We'll have to wait and see if that comes to pass.

Andrew Huff

Event Wed Jun 22 2011

Truckin' Thursdays Come to Ethyl's Parking Lot

OK, this is a development in the food truck universe that I can totally get behind. Starting Thursday June 30th, Ethyl's Beer and Wine Dive will be hosting at least seven (seven!!) area trucks in their West Loop parking lot for what they're calling Truckin' Thursdays a patio smorgasbord collaboration with Chicago Food Trucks. This seems like food truck nirvana to me -- you'll know exactly where they'll be, they're not going anywhere for at least a couple hours, and there are plenty of beverage options available nearby. (If you're not into whatever the trucks of the evening have to offer, Ethyl's full menu will be available as well.) Genius.

If this isn't enough food truck action for you, a food truck festival is apparently happening this Sunday in Evanston, featuring empanadas, cupcakes, and Zumba (not from a truck).

Andie Cavedo

Feature Fri May 27 2011

You Can't Drink the Kool-Aid If You Can't Find the Kool-Aid: A Dissenting Opinion on Food Trucks

The Chicago food truck debate has been approaching a fever pitch within the last few weeks, between Heather Shouse's recent book and the National Restaurant Association show last weekend. It occurred to me, ever-present as this issue has become, maybe it's time for me to start caring about it. And then it occurred to me that, while I tend to offer blanket support for anything that reduces the Byzantine nature of Chicago's food laws, I have no experience with which to back up my food truck support. And then it occurred to me that that was kind of...strange.

I do not now, nor have I ever, considered myself a professional, investigative journalist. And I allow myself a certain amount of leeway on knowledge regarding Chicago food issues, if for not other reason than the sheer volume of them. Foie gras, dogs on patios, trans-fats, CSAs, croissant-gate. I mean honestly, who can keep track of it all? Food trucks have been around for a while now, yes, but I realized I hadn't actually seen one in person until about four weeks ago. And herein were sown the seeds of my food truck doubt -- if I haven't even experienced one of these things, is it really deserving of my full-throated, unquestioning support? Does it really matter?

Continue reading this entry »

Andie Cavedo / Comments (14)

News Fri Apr 22 2011

Funding the Food Truck Revolution

One planned food truck is hoping the public is eager enough for its wares that it'll put its money where its collective mouth is. The Wagyu Wagon has launched a Kickstarter campaign to gather funds to install green technology in the 20-foot step van they've purchased. Pledges will help convert the engine to run on biodiesel and install solar panels on the roof. Give $15 or more and you'll get a free wagyu beef sandwich once the truck is rolling.

Andrew Huff

Review Thu Apr 21 2011

Touring the Nation's Food Trucks & Bringing it Back to Chicago

Heather Shouse traveled the country eating street food, all so you could know where to go next time you're in the mood for street meat or Korean tacos or trailer-fried doughnuts. Her book, Food Trucks: Dispatches & Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels, surveys the food truck culture in LA, Portland, Austin, New York, DC and other hot spots both well known and less so. Chicago is in there too, of course, with the acknowledgment that current regulations mean that most of our local trucks violate her own rule that all the trucks included in the book make their food on the truck. "Hopefully by the time you read this you can add these to that list," she optimistically writes.

The book saw its official release Tuesday, and the regulations still stand. But the turnout for Shouse's book signing and "food truck summit" at Goose Island's Clybourn brewpub was strong despite the rain, and the enthusiasm for the clutch of trucks crowded into the parking lot showed that Chicago is ready whenever the City gets around to making it easier to eat curbside.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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