In the New York Post today, Carla Spartos gives voice to all the people who long for the good old days when food trucks and carts offered cheap, recognizable fare. The street vendors of today are prissy and "twee," she notes:
Sure, the $9 cod schnitzel platter from Schnitzel & Things (twitter.com/schnitzeltruck) features crunchy, perfectly browned fried fish, but it begs for an ice-cold beer—or at least a bench not occupied by a dozing homeless guy.
The elevation of food truck fare is easy to take swipes at—even I roll my eyes at some of the hype being perpetrated by rolling squads of hipsters—but it's interesting to note that Spartos really doesn't have much of an argument here. It's an insincere article that panders to the Post's perceived blue-collar "salt of the earth" demographic. The author undercuts her own critiques by admitting that the food from the various fancy-pants carts is actually good before negging it on price or setting.
And the counterexample she gives to the La Cense Beef Burger Truck, the Shake Shack, is hardly an example of egalitarian street grub—not when it comes from Danny Meyer and when most of the people in line are tourists or white-collar office workers who have time to wait in an hour-long line for La Frieda–blend burgers.
Moreover, it's not a zero-sum game out there on the meat streets. There's no shortage of the type of carts and trucks Spartos rallies for. As our friend Zach Brooks proves daily on Midtown Lunch, you can still find great (and not-so-great) meal deals from dozens of old-school vendors throughout Midtown and beyond. The new breed of vendors simply gives us more choice and brings out new customers who might not otherwise do lunch carts.
As the Bard of Long Island wisely stated so long ago, "The good ol' days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."
If you really want to read some interesting and thoughtful material on old- vs. new-school street vendors, Zach at MTL covers the beat like no one else. This essay on how Twitter actually hurts street vendors is particularly insightful, as are his wealth of posts detailing street-vendor-on-street-vendor skirmishes.
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.