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DINING

Meals on Wheels: Our critics review Orlando's best food trucks

Mobile eateries have come a long way. We combed bazaars, pods and parking-lot lunch stops - and sampled more than a hundred dishes - to bring you critical reviews of some of Orlando's best food trucks

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Bistro Babe's Café

@bistrobabescafe

facebook.com/bistrobabescafe

Brenda Brown and Tracy Barks are keeping it classic, as illustrated by their stark-white, no-frills truck, adorned only with a caricature logo of the two chefs. The homemade Bleu & Balsamic chips ($4) started the meal with a crunch, the potatoes heaped with pungent bleu-cheese crumbles and an acidic drizzle of balsamic. After about 10 minutes we got our 4-ounce Bleu Bayou Burger ($5), a juicy, perfectly medium patty sitting on what appeared to be a store-bought bun with a slap of chunky bleu cheese dressing, loaded with crispy bacon and a big panko-breaded onion ring. The Bangin' Shrimp taco ($3) disappointed, with tiny grilled shrimp and a tepid flour tortilla, yet the pineapple-papaya salsa and mango barbecue sauce held their own in spice, an amiable contrast to the cool-and-crisp radicchio slaw.

C&S Brisket Bus

@csbrisketbus

facebook.com/csbrisketbus

Bacon swag: The bus has it and I got to bask in its glory after trying “the Special,” a massive sandwich containing C&S's signature brisket, homemade bacon jam and grilled onions. I wasn't sure at first about the beef and pork combination, but then remembered that cheeseburgers and bacon are good friends and the Special definitely makes all the sense in the world. Another of their menu stars is the Black & Blue, a brisket sandwich served on brioche with bleu cheese and roasted garlic. You'll love it if you want lots of really big, standout flavors that don't overpower each other.

Café Rouge Express

@caferougeexpres

facebook.com/caferougeexpress

The mobile offshoot of the Sanford-based bistro, the Café Rouge Express truck is a British-French mashup with bistro classics right alongside bangers & mash and other U.K. hits. The specialty is fish & chips made with haddock, the traditional catch for the British national dish, and it's well worth ordering. Pass up underseasoned, underwhelming shepherd's pie ($9) and choose a seafood dish - the scallops in leek churrasco sauce ($10) are a bit pricey (you only get three and some greens) but plenty succulent.

Chimi King

11937 S. Orange Blossom Trail

We can thank the Latin club kids on South OBT for spawning the food truck mania in this city. Those old-school “roach coaches” have been feeding late-night revelers for years, but Chimi King may cause a reversal of that cause-and-effect. Eating just one of their Dominican hamburgers ($5) - “chimichurris,” or “chimis” for short - had me wanting to hit the clubs to get my dembow on. Even a stern warning from a Dominican friend of mine (“It'll rip you up,” she said) only served to fuel my desire for the chimi and, dare I say, it's my new burger of choice. I stood on the driveway of Pondtastic Water Garden Store chowing down on that grilled manwich one blustery Friday night wondering why the King doesn't serve it every night (and day) of the week. It's sauced with salsa rosa, crunched with a heap of cabbage and served on crisp pan de agua, but only available in Pondtastic's parking lot Thursdays through Sundays 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. (The chicken version, at the same price, is just as good.) I also sampled the quipes ($2) - the Dominican version of kibbeh - but they don't hold a stick to the chimis. BTW: Chimi King isn't technically a food truck at all, but rather a trailer hitched to a white van. That's the easiest way of differentiating it from the Chimichurri el Primo food truck parked nearby.

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