Street Food: MUD Truck at Astor Place
The MUD Truck's website gives a little background on their Astor Place truck: "See, the generic coffee monster already was. Then it was again. Directly across from each other and up the avenue down the street. Nothing but green logos and upscale prices. Then came the orange truck and it parked directly in the middle shining like the sun."
One of the Astor Place branches of Starbucks closed this year, so perhaps the MUD truck has triumphed. Their website suggests that the truck's offerings are for the strong of heart and mind, the "anti-establishment" (as they put it) drinkers of finer coffee.
The problem is, MUD truck's offerings weren't as bold as I'd hoped. Other Serious Eaters regularly stop for their espresso (straight up or on ice) but I found the MUD mocha ($2.00/ $2.75) more watery than anything else, lacking either the kick of a good coffee bean or the rich creaminess of real chocolate. The cappuccino ($3.00/ $4.00) was similarly disappointing. The coffee was fine, softly bitter but not particularly lively or complex, and the foam, of which there was a tad too much for my taste, contributed little.
The Chai Latte ($3.00/ $4.00) was better. Creamy and frothy with hints of cinnamon, this drink was delicately sweet and not all that spicy. Don't go to the MUD Truck if you want an intense ginger-and-cardamom experience, but if it's a wet day and you're looking for something warm and comforting, look no further.
I also tried a few of the truck's baked offerings. I wouldn't have thrown away the croissant ($2.00)—it was buttery and flavorful—but I didn't finish it either, on account of the limp, waxy pastry leaves.
The cranberry scone ($2.00), on the other hand, was wonderful. It tasted like cobbler in colder form, with chunky granules of sugar and cinnamon heaped on top, a crumbly dough dialed up with orange rind and the occasional oat, and dried cranberries that populated nearly every nook and cranny. This pastry basically stole the show.
4th Avenue and 8th Street (map).
Open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.