It’s midnight. Possibly inebriated, you stumble with your best pals along a deserted campus street in a bracing wind. Your stomach growls audibly in protest of a night of revelry without sustenance. Just as you’re about to resign yourself to instant Idahoan mashed potato mix yet again, a faint whiff of something promising reaches you from afar. What is that? It activates some primordial part of your brain, and you break into a quick stride toward that enticing scent. Rounding the corner, you discover a source of solace after hours of aimless exertion, slurred speech, and incessant hunger: food trucks!
Of course, the merits of food trucks go far beyond post-partying nourishment. I checked out the the two new food trucks on campus to understand what the hype is all about.
Iguanas Ranas Taqueria (Iguanas on Wheels)
Painted bright gold with iguanas and frogs emblazoned on its exterior, this food truck is hard to miss. It belongs to a Mexican restaurant and bar on Main Street called Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, which the Martinez family established eight years ago. Spacious and lively, the Taqueria offers a wide range of Latin staples, although it is most famous for its traditional tacos and spicy burritos.
Unsure what to order for my first Iguanas on Wheels meal, I asked for a recommendation from Angelica, the friendly Martinez matriarch. She suggested the Suicide Burrito ($14), apparently the most popular (and spiciest) choice. Steering clear of this fiery fare, I opted instead for a Polo’s Burrito ($10) with chicken, cheese, rice, and beans.
The kitchen prepared my order in what felt like 10 seconds. I was then presented with an impressive 15-inch burrito, accompanied by sliced tomatoes, spinach, and sour cream. Angelica also urged me to try the family’s homemade hot salsa recipe, made with chile de árbol pepper and tomatillo. I refused, citing my shamefully low tolerance for anything spicy. She insisted I try just a little bit and claimed that even spice-averse customers like me grow to love the hot salsa. And so I tentatively splattered some hot salsa onto my burrito and took a bite. The result was not as apocalyptic as I had imagined. The salsa worked with the tender chunks of shredded chicken and steamy cheese to produce a balanced and savory experience.
As I gobbled up the hearty burrito, I remembered something I’d been told about the Taqueria: that it secretly serves “chapulines,” or cooked grasshoppers. Intrigued, I decided to ask Angelica about it. Chapulines are available, she said, but not many know about it because it’s not on the main menu. She promised to call me next time their food truck is out so I can give it a try. I guess I now have something to look forward to this weekend!
Perk on Main (Perk on Wheels)
Though the burrito had me stuffed, I was dying for some dessert. If you’re like me and love to eat crêpes at any time of day (or night), Perk on Wheels has you covered. Since 2014, this classic white food truck has been serving an assortment of sweet and savory crêpes throughout Connecticut, along with smoothies, organic coffee, and tea.
Perk on Wheels is an extension of Middletown’s own Perk on Main. The Main Street restaurant offers comprehensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, including crêpes, omelettes, burritos, quesadillas, soups, salads, and more. They also provide catering and online ordering, although online orders must be picked up.
Both the truck and Main Street location pride themselves on their sustainable business plan. The menu includes fairly-traded, organic, and/or local ingredients whenever possible. Moreover, Perk on Main is 100 percent wind-powered, and its use of compostable and recyclable materials has reduced its garbage to that generated by an average single-family home.
The truck’s most popular crêpes are the Popeye ($8.50), a savory crêpe stuffed with cheddar, chicken, spinach, and sprinkled with onions and garlic, and the New Classic ($7), a sweet crêpe containing the winning combination of Nutella and strawberries. Craving some sugar and fruits to counter the burrito I had at the Taqueria, I ordered the New Classic. It looked simple enough, with hot chocolate sauce elegantly applied over the thick folds of the crêpe and generous fillings of fresh, local strawberries and good ole’ Nutella. This timeless treat was exactly what I needed to end the night.