In honor of a century of mobile Jewish-American fare, we selected the stand-out Jewish food trucks from all over the states (and Canada, too). Read the article here and check back Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for more delicious trucks.
What to Order: Smoked Meat Sandwich with a pickle
Thunderin’ Thelma is how Caplansky’s Deli affectionately named their deli truck, and thunder it does — or maybe that’s just the collective rumble of stomachs whenever it passes. Zane Caplansky, whose restaurant has become the go-to spot for Jewish comfort food in Toronto, branched into curbside culinary delights last year. Menu items like tender barbecue brisket sandwiches and a gleefully sloppy poutine made with smoked meat are mainstays. Recent specials included the Indian-inspired latke pakora, served with apple chutney, and The Herschel, a sandwich made with smoked meat and Swiss cheese, topped with confit shallots and a pale-ale demi-glace. Not kosher, but delicious nonetheless.
Three years ago, Zane Caplansky applied to the city of Toronto to sell Montreal-style smoked-meat sandwiches from a cart. Confronted with red tape that would have required a steep investment in a mobile kitchen, he dropped the idea.
Bad news for the aspiring vendor became a boon for Toronto foodies. Caplansky instead started selling smoked-meat sandwiches from the back of a Toronto bar. Insane demand, fueled by word of mouth, led to the 2009 opening of Caplansky’s, his massively successful deli on the northern edge of the city’s historically Jewish Kensington Market neighborhood. “Caplansky’s did more to put Toronto on the map as a deli city than anyone else in half a century,” says David Sax, author of “Save the Deli” and a Forward contributor.
San Francisco is famous for its many coffee shops, book stores and taquerias but a good Jewish deli is hard to find. To my surprise, I’ve encountered two delis that have only opened in the past year and that deliver Jewish deli foods with a California twist – pastrami sandwiches and matzo ball soup prepared with a West Coast sensitivity to freshness and good quality ingredients.
Wise Sons deli only serves food for a couple of hours once a week, but it typically draws a line that wraps around the block and often sells out of their signature pastrami as early as noon. As part of Off the Grid, a group of mobile gourmet food vendors that park in different places around the city, Wise Sons “pops-up” on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm at Jackie’s Café in the Mission. Much like Mile End in Brooklyn, or Caplansky’s in Toronto, the chefs of Wise Sons, two U.C. Berkeley grads Leo Beckerman Evan Bloom, house cure and hand slice their own meats, prioritizing quality and flavor over quantity and variety. Beckerman says, “The main thing is that it all has to be delicious. We’re trying to revive, refresh and educate people about this food.”