Thanks to a recent surge in trendiness, Boston has found itself full of food trucks peddling everything from hot dogs to shashleek skewers, ice cream to organic chocolate. The First Boston Food Truck Festival took place at the SoWa Open Market early in August, and soon after, the market announced that food trucks would grace the market every Sunday through October.
But whenever the food-truck discussion comes up, Clover Food Lab is the name mentioned most often.
The brainchild of MIT grad Ayr Muir and chef Rolando Robledo, Clover currently stations one truck in Kendall and one in Dewey Square. The stark white nomadic kitchens embody all that the food truck movement stands for: a menu of simple, locally sourced vegetarian fare for breakfast and lunch, unique, fresh-made drinks, and solid, low prices.
For lunch, Clover's $5 sandwiches are all variations on a theme — that theme being "things you can fit in a whole-wheat pita pocket." And Clover's pockets are deep.
Their signature chickpea sandwich pits a savory chickpea fritter against the sweet-and-sour zest of tahini, pickled vegetables, and a thin hummus spread. But the surprising standout here is the BBQ seitan. Seitan is wheat gluten that suffers from dubious textural qualities that have led to the equally dubious marketing tag of "fake meat." However, the cool, crisp bed of ripe tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo serves as the perfect foil to the sandwich's savory fillings: Vermont cheddar, caramelized onion, and that BBQ-sauce-coated un-meat.
While the sandwiches don't disappoint, Clover's rosemary fries ($3) are less than thrilling. With hardly enough detectable rosemary flavor to warrant the title, these Prince Edward Island potato fries are the floppy black sheep on a menu of crispy health food.
For $2, you can choose from a constantly rotating selection of beverages, including various berry and lemonade combos, iced coffee, and homemade sodas. But don't be surprised if the drink you got Monday isn't available by Friday, or if you have to show up early in the day to snag your favorite.
Even if the current food-truck hype wears off, Clover's consistent quality should keep people lining up on their lunch breaks. And with a stationary Harvard Square restaurant in the works, Clover Food Lab will be able to expand upon their menu a bit, potentially cementing their status on the local vegetarian vanguard.
Clover Food Lab trucks, located at 20 Carleton Street in Cambridge, and the corner of Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue in Boston, are open weekdays, 8 am-7 pm. cloverfoodlab.com.