Maine’s chefs take healthy, local eats to the streets

By Lisa Wolff

El Corazon is proud to use many local ingredients including the pork for its carnitas, fish for its baja-style fish tacos and burritos, and fresh vegetables throughout, when the season permits. PHOTO: JOHN FINCH

El Corazon is proud to use many local ingredients including the pork for its carnitas, fish for its baja-style fish tacos and burritos, and fresh vegetables throughout, when the season permits. Photo: John Finch

Maine’s foodie entrepreneurs are quickly catching on to the low-overhead joy of cooking up street food from their own moveable feast-mobiles. With menu items ranging from fiddlehead pork belly okonomikayi to lobster rolls six ways and corn, cucumber, and blueberry salad, these food trucks and carts are dishing up menus that are convenient and sourced with the freshest local ingredients.

Take Mami, Japanese street food, for example. Portland’s newest food truck, Mami (expected at press time to open in June in Portland’s Congress Square Park) is fashioning its menu after Izakaya, Japanese pub food. “It is all snackish food that will fill you up,” described Austin Miller, who co-owns Mami with his partner Hana Tamaki, who is Japanese.

A staple at Mami is okonomiyaki, which translates into “what you like.” Grilled okonomiyake is a cabbage pancake topped with any amount of local meat, fish or grilled vegetables. At press time, the planned toppings were ramps, fiddleheads and pork belly—yum! It can be vegan, gluten-free or vegetarian upon request.

FoodTrucks_2_WEB

Photo: Courtesy Bite Into Maine

The menu at Mami can be “as indulgent or healthy as you like,” according to Miller, and features ingredients that are sourced locally with the season. This supports Japanese philosophy known as Kaeseki, which strives for a symbiotic relationship with all living things, using each ingredient to its maximum potential for optimal sustainability, explained Miller. In early summer, you might see fiddleheads on the menu and in early fall, locally foraged mushrooms. Miller and Tamaki source nearly all of their ingredients from local farmers and fishermen, including the nori made of Maine seaweed.

It’s probably no surprise that local seafood is a common staple on the menu of Maine’s food trucks. Bite Into Maine, Fishin’ Ships and Good N You comprise some of the more popular purveyors across Maine.

At Good N You, which is permanently parked at 39 Main Street in Belfast, the owners Sarah Waldron and Seth Whited make fresh corn tortillas from scratch every day. PHOTO: JOHN FINCH

At Good N You, which is permanently parked at 39 Main Street in Belfast, the owners Sarah Waldron and Seth Whited make fresh corn tortillas from scratch every day. Photo: John Finch

Good N You, which is in its fourth season permanently parked at 39 Main Street in Belfast, lives by a commitment to source fresh ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. Their tacos are served on fresh tortillas handmade by co-owners Sarah Waldron and Seth Whited every morning. They are gluten-free and filled with local ingredients ranging from Belfast’s Heiwa Tofu, featured in the Tex-Mex Tofu taco, to fish from Jess’s Market in Rockland Harbor, featured in the Surf Taco. The Good N You name further underscores this downhome Downeast Maine community mindset, named after the common answer one might get from a Mainer if asked “How are you?”

Fishin’ Ships is committed to knowing the source for every item on its menu, specializing in sustainable seafood, and other ingredients sourced from local farmers and producers. The “High Thai’d” is a must-try, featuring ginger, thai basil and chili-battered fish made with Bissell Brothers Substance beer, served with crunchy sweet potato fries and paired with spicy Thai mayo and lime. Co-owners Arvid Brown and Sam Gorelick, who became buds in college, are in their second year of parking the truck on Portland’s Eastern Promenade.

At Bite into Maine, you can choose to have your lobster roll Maine-style (with mayonnaise and fresh chives), Connecticut-style (with hot butter), picnic style (with cole slaw, hot butter and a dash of celery salt) and even wasabi, curry, chipotle and gluten-free varieties. PHOTO: COURTESY BITE INTO MAINE

At Bite into Maine, you can choose to have your lobster roll Maine-style, Connecticut-style, picnic style, and even wasabi, curry, chipotle and gluten-free varieties. Photo: Courtesy Bite Into Maine

Perhaps the most famous among the trucks offering seafood options is Bite into Maine, having earned national press in Gourmet and Food & Wine, in addition to being the only Maine establishment to make Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in 2015 list. The menu includes the seafood that puts Maine on the international map—Lobster. You can eat your way through Maine-style with mayonnaise and fresh chives, Connecticut-style with hot butter, picnic style with close slaw, hot butter and a dash of celery salt, and even wasabi, curry, chipotle or gluten-free varieties. Try a tasty, fresh side with your lobster roll or vegetarian fresh mozzarella sandwich, such as a corn, cucumber, and blueberry salad with red onion and cilantro in a honey lime vinaigrette.

HAVE FOOD TRUCK, WILL TRAVEL

One of the two Bite into Maine trucks is usually parked at the most-photographed lighthouse in the world – Portland Headlight, in Cape Elizabeth. The other can be found at a variety of venues and events, including Allagash Brewery’s 20th Anniversary Street Fair June 27th, the Tall Ships Festival at the Maine State Pier in Port- land July 18-20, and various appearances at Rising Tide Brewery in Portland.

Rising Tide and Bissell Brothers breweries are common food truck gathering spots in Portland, filling the bellies of hungry beer tasters. Two additional taco / burrito trucks, El Corazon and Locally Sauced, respectively call these breweries home on many Saturdays throughout the summer.

If you are looking to experience the maximum number of food trucks in one place, consider attending Stonewall Kitchen’s Battle of the Food Trucks at Stonewall Kitchen’s headquarters in York on August 1. The second annual battle involves a cook-off challenge using select Stonewall Kitchen ingredients. Flea Bites, a food truck gathering put on by the Portland Flea For All antique and consignment market, was a wild success last year and owner Erin Kiley confirmed that events will be held during the First Friday Art Walk July 3 and September 4 from 6:30 – 9:30pm. Visit Portland Flea For All’s Facebook page for all of the details.

Flea Bites is arguably Portland’s largest gathering of food trucks and is scheduled to happen on “First Friday Art Walk” nights in July and September. PHOTO: NATHANIEL BALDWIN, COURTESY OF THE PORTLAND FLEA FOR ALL.

Flea Bites is arguably Portland’s largest gathering of food trucks and is scheduled to happen on “First Friday Art Walk” nights in July and September. Photo: Nathaniel Baldwin, Courtesy of The Portland Flea For All.

Food truck directory

The following is a list of Maine food trucks that offer vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options and that source with local and/or organic ingredients.

Bite into Maine

Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
F: biteintomaine
T: @biteintomaine
I: @biteintomaine
biteintomaine.com

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Local

NOTABLE: Six lobster roll varieties, gluten-free rolls available

Cannoli Joe’s

Spring Street, Eastern Promenade, Old Port
F: cannoli-joes-maine
cannolijoesmaine.com

Vegetarian

NOTABLE: Handmade cannolis

CN Shawarma

Eastern Promenade, Portland
F: cnshawarma
T: @cnshawarma
I: @cnshawarma
cnshawarma.com

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local, OrganicV VG GF L O

NOTABLE: Zaatar beet hummus: puréed roasted beets, great healthy dip for pita or vegetables

El Corazon Food Truck

Spring & Temple Streets, Portland
F: elcorazonfoodtruck
T: @corazontweet
I: @elcorazonportland
elcorazonfoodtruck.com

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Local

NOTABLE: Vegetarian burrito made with butternut squash, bell peppers, onion and chilies

Fishin’ Ships

Intersection of Congress Street and Eastern Promenade, Portland
F: fishinships
T: @fishinships
I: @fishinships
fishinships.com

Local, Organic

NOTABLE: All locally sourced and sustainable seafood. The blurry curry, samosa style, curry-battered fish made with Banded Horn’s Pepperell Pilsner and served with crunchy sweet potato fries

Fox on the Run

Rockport Marine Park, Rockport
F: foxontherunfoodtruck
foxontherunfoodtruck.com

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local, Organic

NOTABLE: Local greens and seaweed salad with ginger vinaigrette, Kim chee, and pickled egg

Good N You

39 Main Street, Belfast
F: goodnyoustreetfood
T: @goodnyoustreetfood

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local, Organic

NOTABLE: Falafel and lamb gyros with crunchy vegetables and homemade cucumber yogurt sauce

The Gorham Grind Coffee Truck

Primarily special events and catering
F: gorham.grind
T: @theGorhamGrind
I: @gorhamGrind
gorhamgrind.com

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Local

NOTABLE: Rocket Fuel high test coffee milk

Little Jamaica—Portland’s Island Flava

Post Office Park, Old Port, Portland
F: littlejamaicaportland

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local

NOTABLE: Jamaican rice and peas made with coconut milk and spices, fried plantains, steamed callaloo (Jamaican spinach), fried dumplings and traditional Jamaican desserts and candies

Locally Sauced

Bissell Brothers 1 Industrial Way, Portland and Gritty’s block, Old Port, Portland
F: locallysaucedme
R: @locallysaucedme
I: @locallysaucedme

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local

NOTABLE: Tacos with hot sauces made from scratch using peppers and berries grown by the owners

Love Kupcakes

By Maine Medical Center on Bramhall Street, Portland during the week
F: lovekupcakesinc
T: @kupcaketruck
I: @lovekupcakes

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local, Organic

NOTABLE: Vegan, gluten free options

Maine-ly Meatballs

Portland
F: mainelymeatballs
T: @melymeatballs
mainelymeatballs.com

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local

NOTABLE: Vegan “meatball” made from Quinoa and vegetables and served with a classic vegan red sauce

Mami

Congress Square Park, Portland
F: mamifood
T: @mamifood
I: @mamifood

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Local, Organic

NOTABLE: Japanese street food: Yakisoba crispy soba noodle, pickled ramps, spring peas, bacon, scallion, kewpie

PB&ME

F: foodtruckme

Vegetarian

NOTABLE: A gourmet twist on your traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Pho Sizzle

1 Park Street, Rockland
F: phosizzle2014

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Local, Organic

NOTABLE: Vietnamese bone-based soup that is low calorie, light, and full of herbs/ veggies

Pinky D’s

F: pinky-ds-food-truck
pinkyds.com

Gluten-Free

NOTABLE: Tater tots can be covered with assorted proteins

The Muthah Truckah

Spring Street, Portland
F: @muthahtruckah
T: @muthatrucka

Vegetarian

NOTABLE: No Meat Muffuletta, hand- crafted with roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, provolone cheese and housemade olive salad

Wich, Please

1 Park Drive (Buoy Park), Rockland
F: wichplease
T: @wichpleaseme
I: @fromawaymaine
wichplease.me

Vegetarian, Local

NOTABLE: The Reubenesque (vegetarian) roasted sliced beets, melted Swiss cheese, Morse’s sauerkraut, Russian dressing, rye bread

“Maine’s chefs take healthy, local eats to the streets” ran in the Summer/Fall 2015 issue of Green & Healthy Maine visitor’s guide

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