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Published June 17, 2013, 11:35 PM

Food trucks and carts return for summer

FARGO - For many area residents, last summer’s increase of mobile food vendors brought a touch of New York City to downtown Fargo. This time around, foodies can expect roughly the same lineup of the trucks and carts that would be more common on the streets of the East Coast than the Midwest.

FARGO - For many area residents, last summer’s increase of mobile food vendors brought a touch of New York City to downtown Fargo.

This time around, foodies can expect roughly the same lineup of the trucks and carts that would be more common on the streets of the East Coast than the Midwest.

Fargo’s city ordinance, too, is unchanged from last year, despite the increased interest in food trucks and food carts, according to city planner Joe Nigg.

The ordinance states that vendors can set up shop on private property, or they can get a license to sell food on the city’s sidewalk. Fargo does not allow businesses to sell food from a parking lot or from a street.

Here are some of the mobile options you can look forward to for the next few months:

Food trucks

Food fans will be happy to know that the lineup of food trucks from last year is mostly unchanged.

Verdis’ Italian Market, which sets up at the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue North, will serve dinner after 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, according to owner Anthony Verdi.

The truck, which Verdi purchased all the way from Rhode Island, offers a wide variety of Italian food. Verdi says his best-selling menu items are the deep-fried cheese ravioli ($6) and an Italian beef sandwich ($6).

Some of the truck’s other menu items were inspired by the original recipes of Verdi’s grandparents, who were Italians living in Dilworth.

“I’m trying to carry on some of their traditions,” Verdi says.

A few blocks north of Verdi’s Italian Market is last summer’s popular Taco Bros. Food Truck, although you may now have to look a little bit harder to find it.

This year, the truck will be set up in the parking lot on Roberts Street behind the Empire Tavern, rather than in the parking lot along Broadway, where it was located last year.

Taco Bros. will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. every day except Sunday, according to owner Octavio Gomez. On Fridays and Saturdays, the truck will be open for the late-night bar rush from 1-3 a.m.

The Taco Bros. menu features standard Mexican fare, including tacos, rice, beans and more.

At the other end of Broadway, taking up its weekend spot next to Fort Noks, is Romo’s Tacos, downtown Fargo’s other taco truck.

The truck serves dinner to the weekend crowd from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, according to Mando Iglesias, who co-owns the truck with his friend Rodolfo Romo.

On weekdays, the truck sets up for lunch in the parking lot of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, located at 1570 32nd Ave. S. in Fargo.

Both Romo and Iglesias are from Mexico and have been cooking for more than 10 years, Iglesias says.

Romo’s Tacos serves tacos ($2 each), quesadillas ($6 each), burritos ($6) and more, with different varieties of meat available. Iglesias says new items could be added to the menu in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Kroll’s Diner food truck, which made a brief appearance in Fargo last summer but otherwise stayed in Bismarck, won’t be coming back this year, according to Kroll’s owner Keith Glatt.

The reason, Glatt says, is that it just didn’t make financial sense to drive the truck back and forth across the state.

“It just doesn’t pay for the cost of fuel and staff,” Glatt says. “I’d love to do it, but the return on the investment just doesn’t work for us.”

Food carts

Of the food carts that will be taking up their sidewalk spots this summer, food fans may notice the absence of a familiar face.

Broadway Dogs, which had been a regular food cart stationed on the U.S. Bank plaza along Broadway for the last three years, has served up its final dog.

Owner Lori Stenerson posted a note on the business’s Facebook page on May 13 saying that “recent changes in our family, coupled with increased food costs, increased event fees, and regulations to operating our cart” all played a factor in her deciding to close.

Returning for another summer are the two Santa Lucia food carts, which sell gyros downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. One cart will be stationed on the west side of Broadway near the U.S. Bank plaza, while the other will be located a few blocks south on Broadway between NP Avenue and First Avenue North, according to owner Maria Wilson.

Santa Lucia will also be introducing a pizza trailer this summer, which Wilson says will be making its downtown debut this weekend.

Another hot dog cart, called Top Dog Hot Dog, will be stationed in front of the Old Broadway on weekends and eventually on the corner of U.S. Bank plaza for weekday lunch.

City planner Nigg says the city has received several inquiries over the last few weeks from people interested in setting up food carts, so he expects to see additional applications in the weeks to come.

Event providers

Aside from the downtown vendors, there are a few other food trucks that people might see out and about at events.

Chef Mobile, a local sandwich truck, has already been around the region so far this summer, and will be at West Fargo Cruise Night on Thursday, according to owner Jeffrey Beving.

Chef Mobile has been selling food since 2009, and offers items such as a mustard-dipped walleye wrap ($6.75) or a BBQ pulled pork sandwich ($6).

The BBQ minds behind the local “Grilling Addiction” blog are kicking off their own mobile sandwich venture this summer.

Called Joe Sandwich, the business is starting as a food stand, but will transition to a food truck sometime later this summer, says Matt “Charpie” Charpentier.

Joe Sandwich will primarily focus on area events rather than setting up shop in one specific location, Charpie says, citing the city’s mobile vendor ordinance as a challenge.

“Fargo laws make it very difficult on mobile food vendors,” he said in an email.

Nigg says there’s always a possibility that the ordinance could be changed in the future to create opportunities for vendors to sell from parking lots or parking spaces.

But, he adds, he hasn’t heard much feedback from people asking for such a change, in part because he thinks the ordinance works pretty well.

“It’s not like we have an extremely restrictive ordinance,” he says. “I guess I feel like it’s pretty flexible.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535