Tacos from Izzoz Tacos in Austin, TX
Please don't make me pick just one taco. I really, really can't. Inside this taco trailer, John Galindo slow-cooks carne guisada for his Escobar tacos. The stewed meat, a Central Texas tradition, cooks in a big pot for four hours in the morning. He also braises meat machaca-style for eight hours (eight!) for his Slowrider tacos. The meat comes out tender, pull-aparty, and fully-seasoned, topped with bright garnishes like pickled cabbage and a cilantro-lime aioli. His breakfast tacos are also some of the best in the city.
izzoztacos.com; 1207 S. 1st Street, Austin TX 78704.
Schnitzelwich from Tabor in Portland, OR
It's tough to wrap your mouth around the schnitzelwich when the breaded pork cutlet is the size of a Frisbee. The same goes for the chicken cutlet and fried portobello alternatives. They'll spill out of the soft ciabatta, squirting the bright red ajvar (an Eastern European red pepper spread), sour cream horseradish, caramelized onions, and lettuce. It's one of those sandwiches that makes you twist your head into funny positions to catch every bite. Look for the "Czech out the Czech food" sign on this red hut and listen for the Bohemian polka-esque beats.
schnitzelwich.com; SW 5th and Stark Street, Portland OR 97204
Souvlaki and Feta Fries from the Souvlaki GR Truck in NYC
Why wasn't there more cheap, delicious souvlaki in Manhattan before the Souvlaki GR truck came along this year? Thankfully we don't have to dwell on that too much anymore. Abby Sierros, her husband Pavlos, and their longtime friend Kostas Plagos (Greek-sounding enough for ya?) rolled out the Souvlaki truck in August. They grill both pork and chicken skewers for their Souvlaki Stix, and ground beef over the charcoal for their Bifteki. It's kind of a Greek burger all rolled up in a pillowy-plush pita with salty feta crumbles and cold tzatziki sauce. Do you want fries with that? The answer is yes. They're crispy-edged, laced with oregano, salt, and pepper, and tossed with even more feta.
Fried Chicken Balls from Ludo Bites in Los Angeles, CA
It sounds much classier in French. Provencal Pepite. The tennis ball-sized orbs of crispity chicken get a sprinkle treatment of Provencal herbs, and they're delicious. Just imagine the juiciest dark meat (it's thigh meat) rolled into a ball then dipped in a seasoned batter and deep-fried to order, then laced in those strong herbs while still warm. When I was in Los Angeles, Zach Brooks of Midtown Lunch swore that Ludo Bites, aka the fried chicken ball truck, was worth chasing. And we did. And it was. You bite into it, releasing all that moist chicken steam, as the dark brown, crispy shell comes apart. The truck is from French chef Ludovic Lefebvre, who you may recognize from Top Chef Masters.
Crepes from Truckin' Good Food in Phoenix, AZ
Jeff Kraus and his wife fill their crepes with quality ingredients from local Phoneix purveyors like ham from The Meat Shop and cheese from Crow's Dairy. The buckwheat crepes are tasty bundles, not too overstuffed but satisfying. My favorite was the "Ham It Up" with ham, melted cheddar, honey Dijon mustard, and fresh herbs. It reminds you how much a ham and cheese just hits the spot the way nothing else can sometimes.