Location varies; check twitter.com/MunchieMobileNY for latest updates; munchiemobileny.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Elaborate toppings and solid patties make for burgers that surpass our food truck expectations
Want Fries with That? They're fine vehicles for the various dipping sauces, but the fried Oreos are a cheaper, and better, choice
Price: Munchie Burger, $6; +$1 for cheese; Gangsta's Paradise, $12; Fat Kitty, $10; fries, $4; fried oreos, $2
According Josh Ozersky's recent piece in Time, the food truck fad is here to stay (this would make it no longer "a fad" and more like "a thing," right?). Low overhead, an emphasis on populist cuisine, and an incredible amount of independence for chefs has encouraged the truck boom, and satisfied diners have kept it alive.
But how, we wondered, would food trucks be able to handle Mr. Cutlets's favorite dish? Sure, any average joe can griddle a cheese sandwich or deep fry some frozen foodstuffs, but as we know here on AHT, good hamburgers take care. Thus, I've begun an adventure across New York City to see how its burger-slinging food trucks stack up in the New York scene. First stop: a stoner food mecca, clad in violet.
Somewhere between the purple paint job, light-up eyes, and idiosyncratic burger names, one might begin to think that the Munchie Mobile food truck is all gimmick without the grub to back it up. In fact, I was almost certain that the mobile, with a menu of burgers, sandwiches, and fried everything (read more about it on Serious Eats: New York), would toss me a frozen meat puck hidden by excessive toppings and condiments. Fortunately, I can report that the folks behind the griddle dish out a solid burger ($7 w/cheese) that only benefits from the elaborate accompaniments.
Although the Munchie Mobile has five standard burgers on the menu (more when you count cheese/add-on combinations), I came looking for the most massive creations.
After waiting about ten minutes as the three-man crew cooked and assembled the two behemoths, I took my first bite of the Gangsta's Paradise. Based on the menu description, which promised "two grilled cheeses (as buns)," I was expecting a standard Fatty Melt. Instead I got something closer to a Fatty Big Mac, with three slices of crusty, griddled bread topped with melted American cheese. The hand formed, 1/3-pound, fresh beef patty made from a chuck-sirloin blend from Brooklyn-based meat packers Berk Lombardo had a decent crust and considerable juiciness despite being cooked to medium/medium-well (the cashier didn't ask for doneness, but the cooks will try to meet any requests—though our "medium rare" Munchie Burger was a slightly dry medium). Additionally, the grind was pretty coarse and loosely packed, which made for a burger that well surpassed my admittedly low expectations.
This patty, however, is only one component of the monster that is the Gangsta's Paradise. In addition to the meat and "grilled cheeses," the burger features two large jalapeño poppers, a layer of french fries, ketchup, and avocado spread. These toppings all come together to form a salty, cheesy gut bomb that will satisfy not only the intoxicated masses, but also fans of crazy burgers. And in spite of these hefty additions and three pieces of cheesy bread, the patty's beefy flavor—especially from the crusty exterior—still comes through. Be aware, however, that the sandwich is massive (probably appropriate for two) and quite difficult to eat, as the layers slide over slick condiments.
The second burger I tried, the Fat Kitty, was slightly less unwieldy, but no less ambitious with the toppings. This time, mozzarella sticks (definitely frozen, though perfectly fine for their purpose), french fries, and a blanket of American cheese join the standard patty along with a substantial squirt of honey mustard. Resting on a brioche bun from Amy's (that, despite being a tad dry, suits the burger fine), the elements work together to deliver a perfectly enjoyable burger. The sweet, though somewhat excessive, honey mustard makes for good lubricant and the sticks/fries, while noticeable, do not dominate the beef by any means. For anyone who enjoys their fried sides on the go, this sandwich is just about perfect, particularly after several drinks.
For sides, every single item (yes, all of them) takes a trip to the deep fryer. While the Munchie Mobile supposedly features curly fries, I received skin-on spuds during my visit. The frozen fries quickly go limp in their Chinese take-out carton, but function fine as salty delivery sticks for dipping sauces such as sweet chili and spicy (read: sriracha) mayo. Instead of potatoes, I would recommend the fried Oreos, which are crispy and gooey in all the right places.
All in all, I was quite impressed by my first food truck hamburgers. The fellas at Munchie Mobile deliver solid beef burgers at reasonable prices that would best a sad, late-night diner burger any day. Especially as part of the two topping-heavy sandwiches we tried, these hamburgers are much better than they need to be, which is good news for AHT-ers and food truck addicts, alike.
- Street Food: Munchie Mobile
- The Hamburger Fatty Melt, a Burger with Two Grilled Cheese Sandwiches as Its Bun
- San Francisco: The Stunt Burgers at Uncle Boy's
- Atlanta: 'Tude & 'Burgs Reign Supreme at the Vortex Bar & Grill
- Bellevue, WA: The Triple Bypass Burger from John Howie Steak