March 7, 2012



Could Boston have the best food trucks in the country? Bonme, Roxy’s, Cupcakory. They are not only our friends, they’re making some killer food.

[PLUG: Dreaming about food trucks? Check the upper left column for details about our latest Food Truck Seminar 3/22/12. Free and open to all. Oh yeah, and those guys are going to be there speaking on a panel of food truck operators.]

I know, I know, we’re not the big deal here in Boston that NYC and LA are. We don’t have the food truck history of SF, or the lots and lots of wagons that dot Portland. We don’t have the lax laws that make Austin so much fun. But hear me out here.

Enzo and I were just in NYC. This was my latest of dozens of trips around the country to keep up with the quickly evolving world of street food. Talking to Ernie, who is the best truck builder in NYC, I realized something. When we told him we made our food to order, I think he nodded, but I’m not sure he believed us. But then we were talking about certain menu items and all of a sudden Ernie said “wait a minute, Eggplant, you fry eggplant? But you can’t HOLD eggplant!”

At that moment standing surrounded by Ernie’s forest of food trucks and wagons I realized that none of these vendors are making food to order. Most of the trucks are basically different versions of the hot dog truck. Empanadas: heat and serve. Dumplings: heat and serve. Pizza: heat and serve. Grilled Cheese: heat and serve. Treats truck: heat and serve. Waffles: heat and serve. Hot dogs: heat and serve. You get the idea. Sort of amazing, right? And all of the sudden I’m seeing trucks differently. After nearly 4 years in this business my whole understanding of food trucks is shifting under my feet.

(read past the break to learn about the burnt stuff)

So how does that bring me to Boston? We’ve got some amazing trucks here.

At Clover we started cooking our food on our trucks. If you come by for breakfast you’ll see us making the soup. This was sort of a funny accident in the beginning. The commissary in JP we were using would charge us by the hour. So as business grew we couldn’t afford to keep adding hours back there. So instead we started doing prep on the truck. And we liked the idea that you could see the prep happening on the trucks.

The other part of the model, the eggplant not holding part, has a different background. Rolando and I both really love stuff that was just made. Most of my favorite foods are sort of messy, and they don’t hold at all. It’s sort of natural that our menu would be built around stuff that is best the minute we put it in your hand (though it makes our take-out challenging).

And I think given how the Boston food truck scene evolved, maybe others were thinking the same thing as us. Clover got going in 2008, the only truck in our line-up crazy enough to build food to order. We kept hearing it from the guy who ran MIT dining: “You’re doing this all wrong. You can’t make food this way. You can’t make it to order.” But we didn’t listen, we’ve never had freezers, never had steam tables.

And as the other trucks evolved, many of them are also making real food for you. And while you could argue that Roxy’s isn’t exactly building those grilled cheese to order, they are cooking with real food. Their fries are real potatoes, par cooked and all. It’s pretty awesome. There are some trucks out there that aren’t anything like this, but for a smallish city Boston has really amazing food coming off of trucks. This is more than heat and serve.

Whether or not we have the best trucks, we definitely have a better grilled cheese. I don’t think Roxy’s has ever put anything like this burnt specimen through their window. While in NYC I had burnt grilled cheese from a grilled cheese truck. Burnt pizza from a pizza truck (not kidding), and burnt ice cream from an ice cream truck. Really, the ice cream was from Coolhaus and it was just totally freezer burned. You know, the kind when you have it in your own freezer it’s just not worth eating, you just throw it away. These trucks were all working hard in the rain at one of the most choice spots in the city. Made me think differently about our little food truck scene here in Boston.

Recent Posts

January 26, 2023
The Pizza Friday Box gave us an idea: calzones! Ayr has been making these at his house and texting us photos. They’re big and saucy and so good. Basically a stuffed pizza/turnover situation with origins in 17th century Naples.
January 18, 2023
As you might know, we love feedback. Survey Day is a tradition that harkens back to the first days of the food truck, over 10 years ago. If you got a card in line today at Clover, or if you ordered on the app today, click here to take the survey. Huge thanks for helping us improve.
January 13, 2023
Thanks all who joined for the first public food dev meeting after Covid. Phil did a great job pulling it all together. If you’re a customer, farmer, vendor (or Clover staff member) reading this, you are invited to Food Dev! These happen Thursday afternoons at the HUB and they’re where all new food ideas are born. Just make sure to sign up – spots are limited.
January 5, 2023
House-made carrot lox, hearty vegetable stews with bread and pickles, Tunisian breakfast bowls, a pizza party kit, and a dream of snow, all in one box. Our Snowed In Box is back. This was Greg’s idea back in 2020. He thought it would be cool to make a box that was equally whether eaten after snowboarding or cozied up on the couch watching a movie.
December 21, 2022
We’ve been getting a lot of requests for the ability to gift a friend Clover Meal Boxes. After a lot of late night tech sessions, we have a way to do this! Yay! I’ve been looking and seeing a few of you have started to discover this feature and are starting to gift away. So cool to see.
December 16, 2022
If you’re a weekly meal box subscriber, you may have noticed way fewer plastic containers in your deliveries recently.When we started the program, we were in the pandemic, new to this whole home delivery thing, and a big concern was making sure that nothing spilled inside the boxes. So we relied on post-consumer recycled containers (aka plastic deli containers) for a lot of the items.
December 13, 2022
We’ve been getting back into the merch game. First up: squash shirts. I thought it would be fun to celebrate the diversity of the squash world. Although butternut is probably the squash you see most in the grocery store, there are actually over 100 types of squash, all with their own patterns, colors, and textures.
December 6, 2022
The Bridgewater is back!! This is probably the most requested sandwich on our menu. Michelle who runs our social media says she reliably gets one message per week asking when it will return. In 2015, Paul and Bryan came up with this sandwich as an homage to the jalapeño poppers at The Charlie Horse, a now-closed tavern in their hometown of Bridgewater, MA.
December 6, 2022
I love the holidays. I love the lights, I love the traditions, I love ornaments and pine needles all over the floor.  I love the movies (“Muppet Christmas Carol”) and the books (“A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”) I love the good songs, I love the schlocky songs (if you’ve never heard “Suzy Snowflake” or “Dominic the Donkey”, stop reading right now and click through.)
December 1, 2022
It was inevitable. Our meal box program had to find its way into restaurants at some point. A bunch of you have been asking if we can sell “on demand” meal boxes in our restaurants – for those times when you have last-minute dinner guests or forgot to subscribe by the deadline. So we’ve been easing into the process of combining one part of Clover with another.
November 28, 2022
Brussels Sprouts are extra sweet this time of year, and King Brussels, in his infinite wisdom, has cooked up a Brussels Week in our meal boxes. Every single subscription box will contain a recipe inspired by brussels! This is the first time we’ve explored a seasonal theme across our entire lineup and we’re excited to dive in.
November 19, 2022
This was Jane’s last week at Clover. We’re wishing her the best in her next steps (but also not so secretly hoping she comes back!)