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New England street food

Eats are greatly cheesy at Roxy’s, while Le Tour Eiffel excels in crepes.pamela wright for the boston globe/Pamela Wright

Taking inspiration from street food cuisine offered around the world, New England chefs are going mobile. They are hitting the streets, creating modern, delicious snacks and meals to go.

“For diners, it offers a quick way to eat well,” says Mike Martini, former chef and co-owner of Newport Gourmet Food Tours. “For chefs, there’s no high overhead, no front-of-the-house hassles, and no more filtered feedback on their food. The customer is eating it right there in front of them.”

We’ve sleuthed out some of the best gourmet grabs in the region. (Check Facebook pages or websites to find out where they are located on any given day.)

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IN BOSTON

La Tour Eiffel truck, the mobile venture arm of popular Paris Creperie in Brookline, serves sweet and savory French pancakes. Pamela Wright for the Boston Globe

“Oh my god,” the person in front of us groaned as she bit into her grilled cheese sandwich. “This is heavenly.” We had a similar reaction to Roxy’s (www.roxysgrilledcheese.com) cheesy concoctions. It’s hard to stray from the braised short ribs and melted fontina cheese squished between crispy hunks of bread ($5-$7). Don’t pass on the truffle fries.

One bite of Area Four’s (www.areafour.com/truck) hand-stretched, grilled, sourdough flatbread, stuffed with an inventive blend of ingredients, will change your definition of a sandwich. “Our food truck allows us to be playful,” says co-owner Michael Krupp. The custom-designed truck, outfitted with a grill and oven, serves a rotating lineup of four or five piadinas ($6.50-$8.50). Favorites include the Fish & Chips with tuna salad, cheddar cheese, greens, and crunchy potato chips, and The Classic, with prosciutto di Parma, arugula, and a blend of fontina and house-made mozzarella.

It’s no wonder that Pennypackers (www.pennypackersfinefoods.com) snagged a Best of the Festival award at this year’s Food Truck Throwdown, pitting Boston against New York. The family-run business, with two food trucks (and a brick and mortar in the works), serves a variety of daily-changing, fresh-made soups and sandwiches. Their roasted, Italian-style, tender porchetta sandwich ($7) transports us back to Tuscany with every bite.

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You can’t miss the bright orange La Tour Eiffel (www.pariscreperie.com) truck, the mobile arm of popular Paris Creperie in Brookline. And, you won’t soon forget their sweet and savory pancakes. There’s a build-your-own option: Pick a meat, choose your cheese, add some veggies. But we’re confident in the daily specials, say, a rosemary chicken crepe with warm brie, sauteed mushrooms and onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and slices of tender, roasted chicken ($7.95).

Husband and wife Patrick Lynch and Ali Fong head up Bon Me (www.bonmetruck.com), winning kudos and a loyal following (they have three trucks and a restaurant in Kendall Square) for their creative twist on the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich ($6). Theirs starts with a toasted baguette, slathered with pickled carrots and daikon, pork pate, spicy mayo, cucumbers, red onion, and cilantro. You can add a filling from a slew of rotating options, such as miso-braised pulled pork, rosemary fennel chicken, and Asian spicy chickpea. There are also flavor-packed rice bowls and noodle salads.

Whenever we spot the colorful blue and yellow Mei Mei truck (www.meimeiboston.com) there’s usually a line, but the wait is worth it. The scallion pancake sandwich with pesto, cheese, and two soft poached eggs is popular ($7), but we love the well-seasoned beef dumplings (three for $7.50), which never disappoint.

PROVIDENCE

This foodie city is chockablock with mobile eateries, and still Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ (www.mamakims.us) stands out, attracting a near cult following. The mother-son team serves authentic recipes including house-made kimchi, dumplings, steamed veggie pancakes, rice bowls, wraps, and sliders ($3-$7). We’re addicted to the pork kimchi ($3) heaped between two slices of sweet bread and the spicy Korean short ribs, drizzled in a unique pear-sesame oil and served in a hot wrap.

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Let’s face it: Taco trucks are aplenty, but Poco Loco (www.pocolocotacos.com) is among the best. Made-from-scratch fare, fresh ingredients, and cheap prices win us over every time. You can’t go wrong with the chorizo and potato taco ($2) or the PBJ burrito ($7) made with pork, black beans, jalapenos, and cheese, doused in a sweet-spicy BBQ sauce. Squirt a few drops of fresh lime and the flavors pop.

We weren’t overly excited when we heard the specialty at Rocket Fine Street Foods (www.rocketstreetfood.com) was sliders. Then we tried their locally-raised boar, mozzarella, and onion slider, and the sweet potato, black bean, rice, and corn slider. These were sliders at their finest ($3.50-$6.75). We haven’t tried the fried egg slider or the house-made mac and cheese, but we’ll be back.

PORTLAND, MAINE

Cast caution aside at the El Corazon food truck (www.elcorazonfoodtruck.com) and go for the Sonoran hot dog, wrapped in bacon and topped with pinto beans, cheese, guacamole, mustard, and aioli sauce ($3.50). There are tamales, burritos, and taquitos, too, and the Baja fish taco we tried on our second visit was perfect — a delicate, crispy fish filet paired with crunchy slaw.

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We hunt down Wicked Good Truck (www.wickedgoodstreetkitchen.com) for this: tender, fried chicken breast with a cornflake crust, drizzled with maple syrup and sandwiched between two fluffy Belgian waffles ($7).

BURLINGTON, VT.

One of our favorite eat-and-go trucks in the city is Hindquarter (www.facebook.com/TheHindquarter) where the ever-changing menu is always a delightful surprise, from house-made duck mortadella to pork scallopini with turnip slaw, catfish Reuben sandwiches, house-smoked pastrami on pretzel rolls, braised chicken tortas, and more — all fresh, creative, and delicious ($8-$10). Best place in town to get your barbecue fix is Southern Smoke (www.southernsmokefoods.com), with an eclectic lineup of daily specials that might include slow-smoked pork shoulder, Creole crab cakes, house-smoked turkey, bourbon-marinated brats, and grilled peanut butter and bacon sandwiches ($6-$8). Just remembering our last meal here — a tortilla stuffed with slow-simmered, smoked brisket, soft caramelized onions and peppers, and creamy, rich mac and cheese — gets us thinking about a road trip.


Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com.