Milwaukee’s Food Trucks Deliver… Literally
Roundup by Rebecca Ratterman
Photography by Edible Staff
Over the past few years, Milwaukee’s food truck scene has all but erupted in a delicious explosion of mobile culinary options. Once a culinary landscape dominated by brick-and-mortar, traveling mobile options now traverse the city, featuring everything from falafel to bacon-stuffed waffles and S’mores pizza.
You can generally catch these trucks at lunchtime this summer during Take-Out Tuesdays at Schlitz Park and on Fridays at Red Arrow Park on Water Street—but be sure to follow them on Twitter for up-to-date schedule information from each individual truck. If you don’t manage to catch them on the go and want the food to come straight to you, many trucks do catering gigs on the side—just check their websites for more information. Here’s Edible Milwaukee’s food truck roundup for your summer noshing needs:
Buddha’s BBQ is testament to the fact that family traditions run strong in food, especially in the fine art of smoking meats. Waymon “Buddha” McNeal Jr. learned from his father, “Big Neal” Waymon Sr. the secrets of hearty, mouth-watering barbecue. Buddha’s BBQ truck is commonly found in the Germantown area on the corner of Pilgrim and Mequon Rd. and features “Tummy Rub n’ Good” pork ribs, rib tips, pulled pork, Mississippi steak (thick slices of smoked bologna) and smoked chicken. Also available are homemade sides, including baked beans and coleslaw. For those with an adventurous appetite, make sure you ask for the “Big Dayton!”
A good Banh mi is a thing of beauty. Baguette-like rolls act as the vehicle in these Vietnamese sandwiches for delicious fillings, like pork belly, chicken or textured soy, topped with fresh cilantro, carrots and peppers. Bun Me, circulating mostly around the Third Ward, also offers Spring rolls, along with chips, drinks and freshly-baked cookies.
Looking for a good burger near where you work? The BurgerMeister food truck opened its doors last year with boundless burger options that won’t disappoint. Besides the traditional burger fare, Patrick Cullen and his crew offer specialties like the Mahi-Mahi-Meister, for those who like seafood with a kick, and the Portabella Meister for vegetarians and mushroom-lovers. All burgers are served on a brioche bun.
Eats & Treats Truck
The Eats & Treats Truck is one of the oldest food trucks in the game, starting up in Milwaukee in 1982. Chris Jourdan is the fourth owner of the bright red food truck. He carries on the Eats & Treats legacy by serving burgers, fries, and or waffles stuffed with your choice of meat (brats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, or spicy jalapeño cheddar brats)—and that’s not even half of their extensive menu. Purple Door Ice Cream (hello, milkshakes) is also available for sale in a few flavors.
Last summer, Wisconsin locals Chrissy and Ron Stroli decided to take their love of Middle Eastern food and make a business out of it. At Falafel Guys, take your pick of a falafel, shawarma or eggplant sandwich—each one is served with tahini, hummus and pickles. The truck is vegetarian friendly and sides include french fries, breaded eggplant, and falafel.
The Fast Foodie
Grab a “Globaco” from The Fast Foodie—locally-sourced ingredients accented by flavors from around the world, perfectly wrapped to-go in a flour tortilla. Owner Jackie Valent Lucca also offers a series of spice blends under the name “Love Dust” to round out your international culinary experience.
Nacho standard food truck, Fivestar Nacho takes the quintessential bar favorite and kicks it up a notch with several loaded options, like applewood-smoked pulled pork, ground beef supreme, shredded chicken club and black bean supreme. Low-carb options are available, as well.
The Gouda Girls Truck
The sweetest ladies you ever did meet and by far, the best huggers this side of the Mississippi, partners (in food and in life—see Edible Milwaukee’s article “Food: A Love Story”) Katherine and Tina Tonn have been specializing in all things grilled cheese since 2010. With a strong emphasis on Wisconsin product (down to the bread from Canfora Bakery), the duo offer up multiple grilled cheese variations that will make you cry with happiness. Try the popular Tom and Pig, made on 7-grain with hickory-smoked turkey, applewood bacon, Wisconsin sharp cheddar and Katherine’s homemade barbecue sauce. Also featuring vegetarian items and non-grilled cheese options, Campbell’s tomato soup and a fresh Spring green salad.
Hattie’s Gourmet sliders on the go
In 2012, Heatherlee Muehlius acquired a former FedEx truck and Hattie’s Gourmet sliders and desserts on the go was born. Try the Gourmet sliders in Italian meatball, barbecue pulled pork, pork tenderloin BLT or Jerk chicken. Then, top off your meal on a sweet note with a red velvet or chocolate peanut butter cupcake, or a double chocolate-dipped or toffee-rolled cheesecake lollipop.
Meat on the Street
Owner and Oak Creek native Alexa Alfaro started the truck with her brothers, Matt and Christian, in 2014. The menu draws heavily from their Filipino heritage. The siblings serve up infused meats; Adobo bowls with pork over rice; beef, chicken and pork stix; sides of steamed white rice; garlic rice, or pancit—Filipino noodles. Check out their Vegan options and desserts, too.
Oscar’s On A Roll
Owners of Oscar’s Pub & Grill, Oscar and Elisabeth Castenada, took one of Milwaukee’s burger institutions on the road last year with Oscar’s On A Roll, serving up creatively-topped favorites and spuds from their brick-and-mortar location on Pierce. $6.75 buys you The Big-O (a full-sized burger) and a pile of fries. Add an egg for an additional buck.
Roll MKE, Chad Rittgers’ 2-year old food truck, is the Jack of all trades when it comes to sandwiches. Their diverse menu includes a spicy black bean burger, a chicken Tinga sandwich, a brisket grilled cheese and banh mi pork belly sliders. Those are only some of the options, as the Roll MKE menu changes daily. Each sandwich is the same price: $8.
Simmer Milwaukee’s food truck bubbled onto the scene in 2013 when owners Steve Perlstein and Jennifer Block began driving their delicious soups around town. Simmer makes the classics like tomato soup, of course—but then there’s the up-and-coming classics, like beef stroganoff—which change daily. Salads are available too. Vegheads can try the quinoa black bean and kale (and in general, always find at least one Vegan option on board). Sandwich lovers will relish the panini options, which include a Reuben, a three-cheese and tomato, a mango Masala, a turkey club, a ham and Swiss with caramelized onions, and more. Now with a brick-and-mortar location at 718 N. Water Street, you’ll always know where to find your fix.
Who doesn’t like pizza around 2 in the morning? Who doesn’t like pizza at any time of day? Scott Baitinger and Steve Mai, the owners and creators of Streetza Pizza had the same questions for Milwaukee before they opened their food truck in 2008. Besides the popular choices like cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and veggie, the fellas usually feature a different dazzling specialty slice every day. We hear there is even a dessert slice available. S’mores!
Urban Caveman began in 2013 when siblings Alan Harris and Laura Oberski noticed a lack of on-the-go Paleo options (meals made sans grains, dairy, refined oils and processed foods). Enter: Truckasaurus, roaring in with grass-fed and pastured lean meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruit and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils for Milwaukee’s ancestral-eating men and women. In addition to the food truck fare, Urban Caveman evolved their dishes into a pre-packaged meal program called FreshPacks—delicious food not just for Paleo folks among us. The rotating menu changes weekly, but the classic UC staple is the Caveman Burger Bowl—a grass-fed burger served with garlic mashed sweet potatoes and a fried egg.
Michael and Siobhan Mesenbourg opened their food truck (a love letter to chicken), YellowBellies, via announcement on Twitter in 2012. And, you guessed it, they sure do sell a lot of poultry. The Mother Clucker is on our list to try, featuring pulled rotisserie chicken, blue cheese spread, organic mixed greens, bernie’s bacon, avocado and oven roasted tomatoes topped with hot sauce. There is a vegetarian option and a pork/chicken combo option called the Cuban; Sides include fries or sweet potato fries.
Rebecca Ratterman is a writer and recent graduate of Marquette University from Louisville, Kentucky. She is a coffee fiend and loves all of the local food Milwaukee has to offer (caffeinated or not). A travel junkie, she has lived in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark and still craves the local bread, rugbrød, every day.