A sure sign of spring, food trucks are once again serving lunch to hungry office workers in downtown Minneapolis.

On the edge of a 4.2-acre park known as The Commons, food trucks arrive well before dawn in order to secure a parking space, since they’re so limited. About nine food trucks or trailers can comfortably park along the block.

Tender Lovin’ Chix, TLC for short, has been serving chicken tenders over Tokyo-fried rice from its Ferrari-red food truck at The Commons nearly every day since the beginning of April.

TLC’s food truck launched last summer in the North Loop, where it got love from the neighborhood but was missing out on the critical mass of multiple food trucks in one place. Co-owner Marques Johnson was scootering around downtown one day and happened to pass by The Commons when a bunch of food trucks were out. That’s been a go-to for TLC ever since.

“It’s a great area, it’s beautiful,” Johnson said. “There are places to sit.”

Unless the TLC truck is bought out for a daytime event by a company like Target, it’s out at The Commons every weekday until its brick-and-mortar restaurant opens in LynLake in June. Then it might be there less frequently, as the restaurant gets off the ground.

Nine food trucks were lined up along South Fourth Street during lunchtime last Thursday. Photo by Brianna Kelly

More food trucks are returning to areas near and U.S. Bank Plaza, two downtown lunchtime hot spots, as the weather continues to warm. Food trucks will also be back on a block or two of Nicollet Mall on Tuesdays and Thursdays – and maybe Wednesdays – as part of Nicollet xChange and Downtown Thursdays, likely starting in early June.

Though the spread varies, food trucks are now out consistently Tuesday through Thursday, when more people are working from their downtown offices. Some are out on Monday and Friday as well, especially when the weather is nice, but often in smaller numbers. If you’re looking for a specific food truck, be sure to check its social media for location and hours of operation.

Here are more details on downtown’s trusty food truck locations:

  • The Commons: South Fourth Street between Park and Portland avenues across from U.S. Bank Stadium
  • U.S. Bank Plaza: Second Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets outside of U.S. Bank Plaza and Capella Tower
  • Nicollet Mall: Between Eighth and Ninth streets on Tuesdays; between Eighth and 10th streets on Thursdays
Seven food trucks were back at The Commons on Tuesday afternoon, when the weather wasn't as nice as it was last Thursday. Photo by Brianna Kelly

Salma Habib has owned the Philicious Philly’s for three years and helped coordinate the Pharaoh's Gyros for almost 13 years. The two food trucks travel as a package deal to breweries, festivals, corporate campuses, and other public and private events around the Twin Cities. During the week, you can usually find them at The Commons or in front of the M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital in Northeast.

“This is like the best spot,” Habib said of The Commons during an interview with Downtown Voices. “That’s why a lot of food trucks want to park here.”

Philicious Philly’s and Pharaoh’s Gyros arrived at The Commons around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. If any of them are unable to find a spot at The Commons, then they head over to the U.S. Bank Plaza.

Tuesday was the first time this year that the Potter’s Pasties food truck ventured downtown. It didn’t arrive until about 9 a.m., so John Schneider, who’s operated the food truck for nearly a decade, parked at U.S. Bank Plaza, along with Nashville Coop and Meson food trucks.

“You’ve got to get here early and then you just hang out,” Schneider said. “It was really nice to chat with the other food trucks. We’re all very friendly. The only thing that was competitive in the past was just getting a parking spot, and then once you were in, everybody’s like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’”