Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mark's Carts, Part 1

I took my lunch break at Mark's Carts today, a fun collection of gourmet food carts in downtown Ann Arbor. The carts are enclosed in a little courtyard down Washington St. right past Main. My friend Katie was the one who first told me about it, and I kept finding new reasons to not make the trek downtown every time I was tempted to try the food. But today I was determined to try it, and boy am I glad I did. 

Each cart specializes in some type of gourmet food. As soon as you walk in, you're greeted by The Lunch Box, which specializes in good-tasting vegan dishes. 

Right across from it is San Street, a cart that serves up Asian street food.

Right next door sat Debajo Del Sol (Spanish for "under the sun." Good to see 4 years of Spanish has gotten me so far in my translations....) This cart has a lot of interesting stuff on the list, including paella! They also make different Spanish tapas, or small plates, like churros and chorizo corn dogs.

A2 pizza π comes next on the list. They make authentic wood-fired pizzas.

I was skeptical of how wood-fired their pizzas could actually be, considering they're being cooked in a cart. But they actually had a real wood-firing grill right outside the cart that employees kept popping pizzas in and out of.

They had their margherita pizza out for sampling. Don't they look delicious? And just $8 per pizza!

Across the way were two other specialty carts: Cheese Dream, which focuses on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and The Beet Box, a creative cart using local natural ingredients.

At the end of the courtyard sits Darcy's Cart, which changes its menu weekly to reflect the harvests of locally-grown food. Today, I saw a lot of people getting the whitefish tacos.

For my lunch, I selected the last cart in the courtyard, Hut-K Chaats (I'm very happy that I don't have to pronounce that, because I'm sure I'd butcher it.) Specializing in "nutrilicious Indian food," their style incorporates fresh, light, and filling indian dishes, most of which are vegan. Why did I select this cart, you might ask? Because it won last year's Le Creuset cook-off!

I ordered the award-winning dish, Shanu Chaat, and, needless to say, it was certainly worthy of its title. I've eaten plenty of Indian food in my lifetime, and this was like nothing I'd ever had before! 

Since most of my Indian food experiences have occurred in local Americanized buffets, my idea of Indian food was rich, filling, and often high in fat (what can I say, I just love butter chicken!). This chickpea dish was fresh, light, filling, and crunchy. I even got to taste a sample of it ahead of time so I knew what I was buying. Needless to say, one bite and I was sold! For $6, this is some of the cheapest and best Indian food I've ever had. Kudos to its creators!

Tragically, I didn't have a stomach large enough to sample food from every cart today. However, I'm sure to be back soon for more!

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