Category Archives: Frugal Friday

Frugal Friday — La Perla Food Truck

La Perla Food Truck

La Perla Food Truck

Looking for some great, vegetarian food truck fare?  Over the next several installments of “Frugal Friday,” I’ll review some of the more popular food trucks in New York City.  Over the past few years, the food trucks have made the leap to mainstream, and in some cases even gourmet.  But is all the hype worth it?  As in most contexts, the answer is, “It depends.”

I recently checked out La Perla Mexicana (no, not that La Perla), which was parked one day on “Food Truck Row” on Park Avenue.  (Check out tweat.it for locations of food trucks around New York City; on any given day, a dozen or more will be camped out on Park Avenue between 47th and 52nd Street or so, as well as on 47th between Park and Madison.)

Pictures

Pictures

The selection at La Perla Mexicana is pretty good.  Like Patty’s, another Mexican food truck (review coming soon), the menu has a lot of things you wouldn’t find at your typical crappy Tex-Mex place: cemitas and tortas (sandwiches), huaraches, gorditas (the real kind, not the Taco Bell kind), and more.  And, in a sense, making them vegetarian is easy; just get them without the meat.

Menu

Menu

But there are some other, more interesting options too.  The quesadilla fillings include cheese, mushroom, pumpkin, and corn smut.  Yes, corn smut.  I assumed that was some sort of mis-translation or typo, but that’s actually the technical term.  (I had always known it as “huitlacoche.”)  Anyway, I assume you can mix and match these fillings with some of the other options on the menu.  This time, though, I stuck to the basics:  tostadas (which typically come in an order of three) with beans, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, and sour cream.

Tostada

Tostada

Overall, the tostadas were pretty good.  The problem with getting something like this is the risk that lettuce is used as a filler, and unfortunately, there was some of that going on here.  But what really disappointed was the guacamole.  I don’t know if it was literally squirted from a bottle, but it certainly had the over-pureed, way-too-smooth consistency of guacamole that isn’t freshly made.  I understand that it could be pricey to make fresh guacamole for every single customer, but I’m surprised they don’t just make it in batches every hour or two.

Tostadas

Tostadas

Still, the tostadas were pretty substantial.  They were 3 for $10, which is a pretty reasonable price considering their size and how filling they are.  The corn tortilla base had a good crunch but the tortillas themselves weren’t super-oily, which is is a big plus (and a big problem with most freshly-made tortillas: they are just out of the fryer so they are greasy and gross).  The beans were tasty, though I thought they skimped a little bit; again, the ratio skewed too heavily toward the lettuce.

All in all, though, and particularly at 3 for $10, these were quite good.  If you’re near La Perla Mexicana, I highly recommend stopping off to give them a try.

Frugal Friday — Manhattan Chili Company (Grand Central)

Vegetarian options to the right.

Vegetarian options to the right.

If you’re looking for vegetarian food at Grand Central Terminal’s food court, The Manhattan Chili Company’s outpost is a great choice.  I know what you’re thinking — how could something so typically meat-heavy be vegetarian friendly?  But in fact, it is.  There are several vegetarian options available every day, so you know there will be something to choose from, and that is reasonably healthy. Continue reading

Frugal Friday — Taco Bell Cantina Menu

I like Taco Bell.  I like food by famous chefs, like Lorena Garcia of Top Chef Masters fame.  I like fresh and healthy food.  So, I should love Taco Bell’s new “Cantina Bell” menu, right?  Wrong.  Maybe the other options are better, but I found the vegetarian option sloppy, bland, and uninspiring.  It’s not that I don’t think Taco Bell can “do gourmet” — I’m sure it’s possible in theory — it’s that this particular attempt was poorly executed. Continue reading

Frugal Friday — Foodswings, Brooklyn, NY

I recently took a trip out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to check out Foodswings, the vegan fast food restaurant.  It was recommended to me by a friend, and I have to admit, I was intrigued by their menu, which has vegetarian spins on lots of things I usually can’t eat, like drumsticks, hot dogs, etc.  Overall, though, I wasn’t that impressed.  If you’re already in the area, I suppose you could swing by the place, but if you are looking for great vegetarian food in Brooklyn or even Williamsburg, don’t go out of your way to go to Foodswings. Continue reading

Frugal Friday — Lunch at Nizza

If you find yourself looking for good, inexpensive vegetarian food in the Times Square/Theater District/Hell’s Kitchen area, check out Nizza for their lunch specials.  You can get a soup and sandwich for around ten bucks — a pretty good deal for midtown.  Nizza is this week’s Frugal Friday post.    Continue reading

Frugal Friday — New York Street Fairs

In this Frugal Friday installment, I check out some vegetarian options at a New York street fair.  Street fairs are, depending on your perspective, either a great way for people in a given neighborhood to congregate and socialize, or an unnecessary intrusion on your regular schedule.  Either way, two things are clear:  (1) lots of vendors are professionals on the “street fair circuit”, going from neighborhood to neighborhood, so you can expect consistency in food choices across events, and (2) there is a good opportunity to get some cheap food.  How does it stack up for vegetarians?  I tried out the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival to see for myself. Continue reading

Frugal Friday — The Cinnamon Snail

Today brings us the first installment of “Frugal Friday”, featuring inexpensive vegetarian fare around New York City (and elsewhere).  To kick things off, I visited “The Cinnamon Snail“, the vegan food truck (you can find them on twitter — @VeganLunchTruck — and on Facebook) on one of its first visits to Manhattan. Continue reading