The last weeks of session are always unpredictable but one thing is certain, there is food. Late nights waiting for deals to be made and bills to get to the floor are spent noshing on Chipotle Burritos, Jimmy Johns, Chinese take-out, Pizza, Mountain Dew, baked goods, oh yeah and many trips to the 2nd floor Capitol Snack Shop or basement vending machine.
The days of greasy pizza and waiting for delivery at the Capitol may not be gone, but there’s now a new option for those working at the Capitol: food trucks. Food trucks have become a new phenomenon stretching across the country, even the Food Network has jumped on the bandwagon with a show called The Great Food Truck Race. The City of St. Paul has caught on to the trend and has started a food truck court day in downtown St. Paul where from 11am to 1:30pm each Wednesday you can have your pick of local food trucks.
The concept of a food truck is simple: fresh, fast, reasonably priced food brought to YOU in the city. Some trucks offer you a compact gourmet dining experience while others offer you comfort food, like hot dogs with a local spin. Calls for these treasure trucks to visit the Capitol started with a simple hashtag (#Capitolfoodtruckbrigade) a few weeks ago from Sarah Strong-Belisle (@SasBea), lobbyist for Cook Girard. The hashtag is now being used to share info and comments on the food truck eats for the day around the Capitol. It is surprising that it took the trucks so long to find the ravenous crowds combing the Capitol halls. Needless to say, the crowds have been a hit for the businesses and those working hard at the Capitol seem to be extremely happy with the new fresh, fast and reasonably priced offerings.
I headed over to the Capitol today hoping to pick up a late lunch and found Nate Dogs on John Ireland Boulevard. Nate Beck, owner, proprietor and father of 5 girls, was serving up delicious hot dogs and brats. They are made of real pork from local farms, and contain no growth hormones or nitrates. Nate served me up a beautiful brat smothered in savory caramelized onions, a North Carolina slaw and a Surly beer spicy mustard. I loved the freshness of the brat and that it wasn’t too heavy-perfect texture and juiciness. Nate mentioned he has the brats specially made to fit the buns just like the dogs do. The mustard, slaw and onions played a supporting role and didn’t outshine the brat but brought out a rich smoky taste of the pork. We had a great time talking about how he is realizing his dream and the plans he has in the works for Summer and Fall for special beer-based mustards. I love that he is following his food dream and that he also involves his daughters (they recently made sauerkraut together). In a time of uncertainty during session, there is one certainty for me, I will go back to Nate Dogs, wow.
• Nate Dogs: Offering local hot dogs, brats, homemade mustards, caramelized onions, slaw and sauerkraut.
• 128 Café: Salads, skewers, fish and ribs
• Fork in the Road: Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese, Sandwiches, Tacos and Lemonade
• Gastro Truck: Meatloaf sandwiches, Thai chicken sliders, homemade condiments
• Simply Steves: Breakfast All Day, Sliders, Wraps and Sandwiches
• Chef Shack: Mini-donuts, salads, tacos and burgers