The Jalepeno truck serves authentic Mexican on Court Street
Photo by Joshua Kristal
So much ink has been spilled on the food truck scenes that I’d never really stopped to consider why Brooklyn–particularly brownstone Brooklyn–sees so few on its streets.
I had about 10 minutes to contemplate this thought while waiting for my order from The Jalapeño NYC truck, which has been somewhat inconsistently parked outside of Court Street’s Union Market starting around 6:30 p.m. The all-in-one order-taker/cook/cashier said he planned to appear daily from 6 p.m. to around 10 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday starting this week.
The jalapeño green truck has a sweating pepper as its mascot and a long menu painted on its side that lists many Mexican street food options, from $2.50 and $3 tacos, $7.50 burritos, quesadillas and tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and $8 cemitas (traditional puebla sandwiches).
Sadly, some of the more interesting options weren’t available on my order: There was no barbacoa (goat) and none of those intriguing cemitas. I settled for three tacos, an al pastor, lengua (pork tongue) and chicken, and a torta with beef.
The tacos come double-wrapped in soft corn tortillas with a meat of choice and topped with chopped onion, cilantro and a smooth avocado green sauce. A serve-yourself bar allows for the addition of pickled veggies, radishes and several homemade salsas.
Very good was the lengua. Give the chopped, tender meat to most people and it’s doubtful they would guess it was tongue. The toppings of onions, cilantro and sauce best complimented the slightly smoky meat. This balance of flavors brought me closest to what I expect from a good taco.
My al pastor was a runner up for its inclusion of sweet pineapple pieces, but the pork was not spicy, either in terms of heat or flavor. A small dollop of the lighter red salsa from the bar (habaeñero?) lit things right up. It should be added cautiously for a more well rounded taco, but I’d rather the meat have done most of the tongue pleasing.
The chicken, perhaps predictably–is chicken ever the standout?–would be well suited to timid taste buds. It’s hard to be too critical of any food that costs less than $3 and is just a few blocks from home, but this won’t replace my weekend walks to the Red Hook vendors.
The favorite of my meal, however, was the torta. Served on crusty but airy bread, the torta was stuffed with lettuce, tomato, some mild jalapeno, queso fresco, mayo, avocado, black beans and (my choice of meat) beef. As a street food, tacos get a lot of attention, but the gooey, oozy insides of my torta stayed perfectly contained between the thin, smooshable slices and allowed the ingredients to meld into a happy mess of Mexican flavors.
The torta left me curious about the cemita, which is traditionally served with breaded chicken or beef on an egg roll topped with sesame seeds. I’m hoping next time I stop by, the bread is available. If not, I might mix things up and give the breaded meat a go on the torta.
Senor Rodriguez of Mexico will prepare your Mexican delights
According to appearances on a couple of blogs (Fork in the Road and New York Street Food) and its Twitter feed (@thejalapenonyc) The Jalepeño NYC truck has been appearing around Manhattan and in Fort Greene for a few months now and is headed by Matias Delsart, a chef from Buenos Aires. It’s been appearing in Cobble Hill for the past few weeks..
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or (917) 474-4729 for more information or to set up delivery when the truck is in the neighborhood or for information on catering for private events.