Friday, November 12, 2010

Gastro-Wagon - Chicago, IL

In cities like LA and NYC, food trucks are all the rage, but in Chicago, there's a law prohibiting food trucks to cook on the road.  Trucks are only permitted to sell prepackaged foods.  The city is considering legislation to change all of this, but for now, some food trucks like Gastro-Wagon or various cupcake perveyors have been driving around town selling their premade goodies to the hungry masses.

I've heard about Gastro-Wagon but wasn't really motivated to chase them down, but one of my coworkers alerted me to their ascendance in the Loop for lunch one day so we decided to check it out.  We headed out around 12:15 and there was already a long line of people waiting.  Because all of the sandwiches, soups and desserts are already prepared and packaged, the line moves pretty fast.  

By the time we got to the front of the truck, several of their popular sandwiches were sold out.  The one we wanted was the lobster club.  The Gastro-Wagon specializes in naan-wiches made from slow cooked ingredients like wild boar belly with fennel, olives, yogurt and shaved red onions; Portobello with arugula, goat cheese and crisp shallots; and pork shoulder with radish, cilantro and queso fresco.  Their menu changes all the time and they post on their website, twitter and facebook where they will be headed for lunch and dinner every day.  Sandwiches range from $7 to 14 and soups are $5.

I got their duck confit naan-wich and I have to say, it was a bit underwhelming.  I could see myself loving this if it were hot and steaming, but by the time I ate it back in the office, the bread lost its chewiness.  Maybe if it was cooked made to order, it would have been better.  I think I'll definitely try it again if Chicago finally lifts the ban on trucks being able to cook food and we can get to try some of Matt's creations fresh and hot off the grill. 

They also have a small selection of desserts on hand from Fritz Pastry Shop.  I really wanted to get my hands on an oatmeal cream pie, but they were sold out so I opted for their chocolate cream pie.  Let down #2.  They gave me an extra cookie so I left it out for some coworkers to try and it did not get much love and let me tell you, our department loves sweets.  Maybe there is a reason the oatmeal one sold out so fast. 

One thing I can rave about Gastro-Wagon is their bag of plantain chips.  They are long, thinly sliced plantains, fried crisp with a bit of spice to them.  A bag for $2 is a definite must!  I'd stand in line again for those chips. 

We went another time with more coworkers and they were able to get their hands on the lobster club sandwich (which they had this time) and they said it was delicious.  I ordered a split pea soup instead and a bag of plantain chips, both of which were great.  I was a very happy camper.  I can't wait for new food trucks to pop up in Chicago.  It's about time people!

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