…of Ithaca’s food trucks
The Hot Truck- 635 Stewart Avenue (Three Stars)
While approaching the Hot Truck late one night, I knew I had crossed enemy lines into Cornell territory. This truck is in every way a Cornell establishment: located in the middle of Cornell’s campus, it has provided drunken Ivy Leaguers with late night grub since 1960. While waiting in line, I discovered the secret language to ordering their signature greasy subs: “run it through the garden” means “add lettuce”, “liquid heat” means “ add cayenne pepper sauce” and “heavy” means “add garlic.” The sandwiches were solid, particularly the “WGC,” a pizza sandwich on garlic bread — but comparable to other unhealthy options in Ithaca. There is also a group of sandwiches entitled “The Suicides,” which I found slightly unsettling considering Cornell’s reputation. Although this truck may have a different significance to diehard Cornellians, this reviewer was relatively unimpressed.
The Circus Truck- 607 West Seneca Street (Five Stars)
As a hardcore Italian, I take my pasta dishes very seriously. The Circus Truck features many food options, such as stellar breakfast burritos and sandwiches. They offer an extensive variety of upscale grilled cheeses, which is music to the ears of this cheese-and-carb addict. However, the creative pasta specials are a standout. The dishes change daily: I enjoyed pappardelle with bacon, artichoke and fresh spinach in pistachio nut cream sauce with fresh habanero pepper. The pasta is locally sourced and homemade.
I indulged in a five star college dessert on a budget: grilled pina colada bread with grilled peaches and homemade whipped cream. The Circus Truck reveals their specials daily on their Facebook page, although, I doubt that any of their Italian delicacies will disappoint! Whether seeking out a classic cheesy sandwich concoction or a one-of-a-kind pasta masterpiece, The Circus Truck is any Ithacan’s go-to spot.
The Good Truck- 516 West State Street (Four Stars)
The Good Truck, a seasonal truck, closed for the winter in late October. However, as it was my first foray into Ithaca’s food truck scene, it needs to be mentioned. The Good Truck, which will open again next spring, offers fantastic tacos and other Tex-Mex delights with an Ithaca spin. For example, “the Local” with hot radish and asparagus with coleslaw, is classic Ithaca fare on a tortilla. “The El Camino,” their version of chicken molé, is a more refreshing twist on a classic. They describe themselves as “locally driven tacos,” which not only cleverly notes their presence as a food truck, but also accents their emphasis on local ingredients. Additionally, this food truck offers a small yet savvy variety of wines, which perfectly complement the fantastic tacos. The quality ingredients and wonderful flavors blew me away. The incredibly small portions and depressingly short season prevent me from giving them a perfect score.
Louie’s Lunch-Courner of Thurston and Wait (Two Stars)
Louie’s Lunch, much like The Hot Truck, is designed to stuff the faces of Cornell students with carbs after a night of bad decisions. The fare is decidedly classic, with an extensive collection of milkshakes, burgers, sandwiches and fried delights. Louie’s Lunch also features breakfast sandwiches into the late hours of the night, which is a big draw for all-day breakfast lovers such as myself. Although the options seem wholly unhealthy, there is a vegetarian menu for those with dietary restrictions. The food was diner-esque, but was heightened by the fun Collegetown atmosphere. However, it lacks the history of The Hot Truck, making it the less charming of the two options. Still, if you’re spending an evening in the commercial Collegetown area, this is the most convenient food truck option.