There truly is a glut of trucks that do the same preparation of other trucks, albeit with a different main ingredient. I have seen Korean food, American BBQ, and all sorts of other fusion cuisine vehicles that offer the same things – rice bowls, tacos, burritos. That’s not to say they are bad tasting, but it is nice to have a change every now and then when it comes to appearance. Enter “Palenque”.
Owned and operated by Viviana Lewis and Angela “Nena” Sierra, two Colombian ladies that call New York their home, the namesake refers to a village in their home country. The specialty of this food truck is arepas, which is a grilled flatbread covered with various toppings, both sweet and savory. You can eat it like a pizza, you can eat it like a sandwich, you can cut it with a knife and fork, or you can tear it apart with your bare hands like a grizzly bear. Manners go out the window when it comes to an arepa, and this truck will make sure that your experience is finger-licking good.
You can order your arepa to be made with corn (like the one pictured above), or with yuca, quinoa, or multigrain rice. Moving along like an assembly line within the truck, you can have your arepa topped with white meat chicken (such as mine), fresh shrimp, angus beef, seitan, mushrooms, organic chipotle chorizo (a vegetarian sausage), frijoles maceradaos (a thick paste made from mushed red beans), or cheese. Luckily, they also have a lunch special that gives you a bit of both worlds, which allows you to have a protein with the red bean paste and topped with that creamy, melty cheese.
Along with your protein, you get a bed of arugula to keep your meat from oversaturating the cornbread, doused with chipotle mayo and a verdant cilantro sauce. It might look like an absolute mess, but it’s a colorful mess, and as we have learned in the past, looks can be deceiving. The arepa is a bold and confident blast of flavors melding together with the cornmeal as the base. The salty and creamy cheese melds with the soft bean paste, with the sauces playing off of the protein, finished with some arugula to add some peppery kick with each bite. While it might look extremely dense, it’s not as heavy as it appears and is quite a refreshing way to do lunch.
Eating this can be a herculean task, but also part of the fun of an arepa. Most sane people would fold it like a proper sandwich, but being the epicurean genius that I am, I just tear off chunks and hope it lands in my mouth. Regardless of how you want to eat it, I definitely recommend trying this truck out. It’s one of a kind in terms of type of cuisine as well as in taste, and is as fun to eat as it is to say. At under $10 for an overloaded arepa, it might be a messy lunch, but it will be a delicious and filling one.
The Palenque Food Truck travels around Manhattan through the work week, so check out their twitter feed to see where they are going on any given day.