Palenque truck challenges tacos with arepas

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If you’ve been walking around Bedford Avenue lately – and, as we’ve stated before, if you’re a NY Remezcla fan, chances are pretty good you have been – you may have noticed a recent addition to the bevy of food trucks parked along the way. Sure, Waffles & Dinges shows up sometimes, not to mention the occasional drunk truck, but mostly we’re used to all the Mexican food – Endless Summer, Morelos, that big orange one, the EcuaMex truck that parks itself on N4th. But this new truck’s menu immediately stands out.

Chef Viviana Lewis’ brand new food truck, Palenque, run daily by her business partner Nena Sierra, seeks to challenge the Bedford Avenue status quo after finding success with their arepas. “I think there was a need for something different. The people in this neighborhood, they like to eat healthy, and to be healthy, and they like to have alternatives. We make all the arepas ourselves, and you can choose from traditional corn or one made from brown rice.” On other days, I’ve seen a quinoa option.

“We’re parking here on Bedford and Metropolitan every day,” Nena told me, “and next week we wanna try to go to midtown, but this is our base: Williamsburg. It’s been so good. We’re always over the medium level, you know? You expect to sell…I don’t know how to say, the promedio, and we’re always over that.”

But how does it taste? Because of Nena’s insistence on traditional, original flavors, I decided to go as traditional as I could – corn arepa with beef, and an agua de panela, a traditional, homemade lemonade-like drink that was refreshing but also had a definite ginger kick. It’s a bit of a jolt when you’re not expecting it, but it’s worth it. As for the food, it was certainly more refined than the fare you find in your average Mexican food truck – and, accordingly, it’s a lot more expensive. The arepa was delicious and satisfying without being too heavy. It’s certainly not the sort of food-truck meal you buy at 2AM and stagger down the street devouring, but then again, that doesn’t seem to be its creators’ point. In fact, it might be the opposite.

Palenque’s home made, healthy Colombian food is better suited to noon than midnight, when you’re looking for a great lunch with plenty of flavor that you won’t spend the rest of the day regretting. Check them out at their home on Bedford and Metropolitan (usually parked in front of the pool) are catch them in Manhattan.