For the late-night gourmand, a nose-full of diesel can be as tantalizing as a whiff of searing foie — proof that food trucks are near, and therefore, good eats. And yet these days the food scene’s one-time underground has breached the surface, which means big crowds and long lines. Good news, then, as the best of today’s street food comes indoors in this month’s Mantry. Serve up your favorite truck-bound fare in the comfort of your kitchen. Or, if you must, grab a flimsy paper plate and stand in the driveway. Either way, the streets have never tasted so good.
Butter Masala // Maya Kaimal // Rhinebeck, NY
If everything’s better with butter, it’s best with this creamy, aromatic all-purpose sauce from the queen of subcontinent fare, Maya Kaimal, scribe of two authorial texts on Indian cooking. Go traditional and ladle some over simmering chicken and veggies; or, for the street-side touch, slap it on oven-warmed naan, roll up some basmati and leftovers, and make the meanest roti wrap this side of Delhi.
Olo’s Chipotle // Olo Foods // Seattle, WA
Sure, you can buy the dried peppers, toast them in cast-iron, heft out the molcajete, mash them till your manos ache — and then avoid touching anything, er, sensitive for the rest of the night. Or you can crack a tube of Olo’s. Dial in the heat — two teaspoons is about a full can of chilies — smear it straight, or mix a dollop with mayo to spread on fresh-grilled ears for a classic elote.
Chipotle Adobo Jerky // Three Jerks Jerky // Venice, CA
Those unlabeled tubs at western fill-’er-ups bristling with spicy snacks are a road-trip staple, but one thing’s for sure: the meat therein’s a mystery. Not so with Three Jerks. Their lean, flavorful, buttery smooth jerky is all top-notch filet mignon. That highfalutin cut comes down to earth, though, with a gritty, Mexi-Filipino mix of smoked peppers and sweetly puckering, vinegary adobo.
Korean BBQ Marinade // We Rub You // Queens, NY
Marinate a hunk of flanksteak with a quick soak in the sauce, fire the George Foreman, and then sling your own K-town tacos. Quick-pickled cukes and carrots add a vinegary pop where the marinade’s perfect mix of soy, apple, garlic and ginger slowly burns. Like your wings extra-hot? Stock the fridge with ice-cold OBs and brave We Rub You’s spicy Gochujang sauce.
Big Hibiscus // Steven Smith Teamaker // Portland, OR
For pepper-heads, the best part of truck-stop tacos is sometimes the styrofoam big gulp of sweet-tart jamaica you chug to extinguish a hubris-induced chili burn. Steven Smith balances that refreshing hibiscus zing with a pinch of ginger, sweet rose, and exotic Indian sarsaparilla. Cold, with a squirt of honey, handful of summer fruit, and shot (or two) of your booze of choice, it’s a perfect sangria; piping hot, a morning-after soother.
Grey Ghost Bakery // Cinnamon Pecan Cookies // Columbia, SC
The humble pecan cookie, a down home southern staple — this recipe goes back generations — gets a new-school twist with all-natural unbromated flour, European butter, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bet you can’t stop at one — especially when a pair makes a brilliant bookend for the best ice cream sandwich you’ll have all summer.