It doesn't get much more "street" than Chicago's Tamale Lady -- a dedicated vendor who peddles tamales from a white cooler on the side of the road in the city's Pilsen neighborhood at the corner of Damen and 21st Place. She's equally famous for her champurrado (Mexican style hot chocolate), which can come in handy, since she sets up shop in any weather, all year long.
The Brown Bag Lunch Truck (check its Twitter and Facebook pages for locations) might not yet be as famous as the Tamale Lady, but it does serve some famous Chicago cuisine: barbecue. Here, the signature smoky, tangy meat has an Asian twist with a green mango slaw that's slathered atop. Haute Sausage (see Web site for locations) is another vendor that takes something very Chicago -- sausages -- and adds a global flair by topping them with ingredients like masala and pickled mango chutney or roasted eggplant and zucchini.
The Slide Ride (which also tweets location) serves gourmet sliders out of a bright pink truck. Options include the chicken pesto (chicken pesto, prosciutto and melted provolone on ciabatta), the mini pork banh mi (spicy pork, pickled carrots, daikon radish slaw with cilantro and siracha mayo) and the Southwestern (black bean patty, pickled onions and tomatillo salsa).
Rather than having its patrons hunt for the grub, the 3J's food truck takes a unique approach. It circles around Chicago's Loop during lunch and with a simple phone call, appears at the corner of your choice. It's a good bet when you're in the mood for hearty fare like barbecue chicken and mac and cheese.