When it comes to food trucks, I've had my share of the many mobile tacos, pizza, and sandwich options in town. Snack Shack's arrival on the growing C-U food truck scene fills a much-needed niche: desserts. Snack Shack does not yet have a website or a formal schedule, which made tracking them down a bit difficult. They appear to consistently park in the EnterpriseWorks parking lot at the University of Illinois Research Park on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but I had to stalk their Facebook page with hope that they'd share their location each day; there wasn't a lot of notice as to where they'd be and when they'd be there.
My friend and I took a ride to the Research Park last week at lunchtime to give their offerings a try. We were greeted by a very friendly man who went through the menu with us. They have a few different hot sandwiches, all for around $7. There are several chicken options and Italian beef on their daily menu, as well as a few rotating specials. They also have bagged chips ($1) candy bars ($1.50), cotton candy ($3) and a variety of desserts. My friend ordered the Italian beef ($7) and I opted for the chicken parmesan sandwich ($6.50).
The chicken parm was different than I expected given the name; it was shredded chicken cooked with Italian spices, topped with marinara and shredded cheese. The chicken was bland and very wet, which made the bun soggy and difficult to pick up. The chicken and sauce were luke-warm, so the mozzarella did not melt. In the grand scheme of chicken parmesan sandwiches, this missed the mark for me.
My friend did not particularly care for the Italian beef either. It too was soggy and lacking the flavor that you would expect from a traditional Italian beef sandwich. My friend also ordered the southern lemonade (which we were told consists of lemons, water, and sugar). It packed a overwhelming sour punch that neither of us were expecting, but she waited for the ice to melt, (it was 90 degrees after all!) which mellowed the tartness a bit.
We excitedly moved on to the sweets as our lunch was planned as an excuse to eat dessert in the middle of the day. The "desserts to go" menu is extensive, with several types of homemade cakes-in-cups ($3.50) pies ($3.50), cheesecakes ($3.50), cake pops ($2), ice cream ($3.50), and the shining star: edible, egg-free cookie dough ($3.50). My friend ordered homemade no-churn birthday cake ice cream, and I ordered the chocolate chip cookie dough.
The ice cream was smooth, rich, and delicious. It tasted exactly like birthday cake without the grittiness or over-the-top sweetness that other birthday cake flavored items may have. The serving was one large scoop for $3.50, which we agreed may be a bit expensive for one scoop, but it was definitely worth it for a treat on a hot day. We moved on to the cookie dough, which was fabulous. The cup had four mini scoops of cookie dough with perfectly proportioned chocolate chips. It is definitely shareable when you think about the fact that those four scoops are equivalent to four cookies. It was so good! I couldn't help thinking that this was egg-free version of the cookie dough that I often sneak to the side while stress baking after work: just as delicious, but I won't die from salmonella poisoning.
Overall, my friend and I agreed that we would skip the sandwiches and return to Snack Shack for the desserts. The edible cookie dough and variety of homemade ice cream flavors bring a new and exciting alternative to the C-U food truck world.
More information about the Snack Shack is available on Facebook.
All photos by Jessica Wolff.