Frites 'N' Meats: First EatS

Frites 'N' Meats survived a crash and propane-tank explosion to remain one of the most popular "second wave" NYC food trucks. But do their burgers and Belgian-style fries continue to live up to the rhyme? We found out.

The first whiff of grilling meat hits two blocks away from the truck's Wednesday spot on Hudson Street. The concrete gullies accelerate the aroma of searing flesh deep into the West Village. The line moves quickly thanks to Frites 'N' Meats's pen-and-card-based order system. Orderees mingle nearby, waiting to hear their "superhero name" called out. There are two types of New Yorkers, the saying goes. Those who write their own names on the Frites 'N' Meats card, and those who make up their own superhero names, say, "The Skinny Jeans, Fixed-Gear Crusader."

The menu is simple — grass-fed Angus or American Kobe (wagyu) burger, soft brioche or crusty potato onion bun, and toppings like applewood-smoked bacon, flavored aiolis (garlicy mayo), goat cheese, onion jam and guacamole. Weekly and daily special burgers take the guesswork away — the sponsored Makers Mark bourbon Kobe beef burger with marinated oven-roasted tomatoes and savory onion jam, for example.

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The good news is that the best thing on the menu is a stripped-down burger (of either kind) on either bun. The crunch of seared burger skin gives way immediately to a juicy, flavorful patty. Playing against traditional burger bun rules, the crunchy potato-onion crust holds in a soft interior slurry of minimal dough and maximal meat juice, while the brioche gathers up the juices and delivers them in a sultry, mouth-pleasing medium. The Angus is a little more dense than the Kobe, but both share a crunchy snap and mineral-rich beef flavor. Paired with spicy aoli, the result is a bit of garlicy fire.

Although the richness of toppings is one of the truck's best attributes, adding too many extras provides diminishing returns. It also boosts the sticker-shock effect. Quality comes at a price, and that price starts at $6.00 for the Angus burger, $8.00 for the waygu. Toppings range from free (mesclun lettuce, tomatoes) to $0.75 each (cheese, bacon, onion jam).

Frites, you say? Freshly double-fried and doused with sea salt. Delicious carbohydrate minimalism.

Ultimately, where FnM excels most is in its basic ingredients - good meat, well cooked, high-quality bun, double-fried Idahoes and salt. Primordial fire meets civilization on streets teeming with hyperactive hunter-gatherers.

Loving Jalopnik's Street Meat Week? Check out Truck Yeah, where gourmet food, art, music, and design trucks convene at the Crown Victoria Bar in Williamsburg to celebrate mobile culture in NYC. Truck Yeah is produced by Art Cart NYC, Etta Place and Gawker Artists and sponsored by Jalopnik. October 2, 12-6pm | 60 S 2nd St @ Wythe