In an attempt to "redefine street food," the Parks Department has partnered up with vendors from all over the city and allowed them to set up shop at all of our favorite lawns and even beach spots. Yesterday, they invited over fifteen food trucks, including architecturally-minded Coolhaus, Pullcart (of Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue), nutritionally-conscious Rouge Tomate, and way-better-than-Auntie-Anne's Sigmund Pretzels, among others. The vendors amassed in one concentrated block-long space in Central Park at The Arsenal for Taste of the Parks. We came, we lined up, we tasted. Below, our recommendations and where you can find all of them.

Truth be told, we lingered around the NY Dosa truck for much longer than we should have. The confident Thiru Kumar, a.k.a. the Dosa Man, knows his product is the best in town (and mentioned that it might be better than the dosa in India!) and has the accolades—numerous Vendy awards to prove it. Having learned how to make divine rice-and-lentil dosas from his grandmother, Kumar makes all of his ingredients fresh, sourcing the lentils from his brother's store in Queens and making the fine coconut chutney every morning before coming to his cart at Washington Square Park (though he mentioned that customers are only guaranteed food between 1 and 4 because he runs out). He proclaims that he was the first vegan cart in Gotham to fill the stomachs of his also vegan buddies.

Another favorite was definitely the up-and-coming Food Freak's Grilled Cheese. The food recipe obsessive who writes the blog Food Freak teamed up with his brother and their friend (both graduated from culinary school) to amp up the cheesy childhood favorite. We tasted a particularly delicious braised short rib, blackberry jam, and gruyere cheese on sourdough. They love cooking and apparently are just getting started with their Fort Greene digs. It opens in July, just in time for one of the chef's birthdays. (We know because his mom, who was there, told us.)

We also had a soft spot for Je and Jo, the new artisanal cookie dough ice cream eatery. Founder Jonathan and his girlfriend used to kid around and add cookie dough to Vanilla Breyer's until they took a cooking class to learn a little more about the science behind ice cream production. And then it was on. They started making complex flavors like the Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Lemon Lavender Shortbread in hard ice cream texture. (They're taking recommendations from customers, which means they'll be rolling out a chocolate flavor in the next two weeks or so!) Though the operation is still pretty small (both he and his girlfriend still have their day jobs, he's an architect), they're making their way up and expanding outward, having served the top-shelf product at Gracie Mansion just last night.

Sustainable food efforts were not lost on cart vendors, as Je and Jo decided to tote their ice cream on a bike and Rouge Tomate plans to equip its Central Park outpost with solar panels. But if there is one thing on which all food vendors from glorified slushy seller Kelvin Natural Slush Co. to "pupcake"-offering Cakes & Shakes agree, it's that carts are way less stuffy, way more fun, and not about to go away any time soon.

Here's where you can find the newcomers:

  • Food Freaks - soon to be serving artisan grilled cheeses at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. Find them on twitter @foodfreaksGC
  • Desi Food Truck - soon to be serving Indian food at Soho Square, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @desifoodtruck
  • Ladle of Love - serving soups, salads, sandwiches and more at Tavern on the Green, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @ladletavern
  • Coolhaus - soon to be serving artisanal ice cream sandwiches at Central Park West and 80th St, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @coolhausNY
  • Kelvin Natural Slush Co. - soon to be serving premium all natural slush at Little Red Square, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @ kelvinslush 2010 Vendy Dessert Winner
  • Eddie’s Pizza Truck - soon to be serving pizza and more at Duane Square and Richard Tucker Square, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @eddiespizzany
  • Je and Jo Comestibles - soon to be serving super premium ice cream made in NYC from locally sourced organic dairy and all natural ingredients at Bleecker Playground, Manhattan. Find them on twitter at @jeandjoicecream
  • Pullcart - soon to be serving locally sourced sandwiches, sides, and beverages including beer and wine at Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @fattysnacknyc
  • Good to Go Organics - serving organic hot dogs and more on the East Drive and Center Drive in Central Park, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @gtgorganics
  • Sigmund Pretzelshop - serving handmade soft pretzels, pretzeldogs and pretzelsandwiches in front of the Metropolitan Museum and at Bowling Green, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @sigmundpretzel and on facebook @ Sigmund Pretzel Shop
  • Rouge Tomate - soon to be serving seasonal and local ingredients in sandwiches as a healthy alternative to the traditional snacks found in Central Park. Find them on twitter @rougetomatecart
  • Cake and Shake - serving 100% organic cup cakes and milk shakes at the Met Steps, Manhattan. Find them on twitter @cakeandshake
  • Country Boys - serving traditional foods like sopes, chalupas, quesadillas, tacos, and huaraches at Red Hook Park, Brooklyn. Find them at
  • People’s Choice Mobile Kitchen - serving traditional West Indian cuisine at Pelham Parkway in front of Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx
  • New York Dosa Cart - serving traditional vegan Indian food at Washington Square Park, Manhattan 2007 Vendy Cup Winner