Lil Dan’s Grills Up Big Flavors
This week, Luncher John tries 3 sandwiches from Lil Dan’s truck. Lil Dan is one of the competitors in tonight’s food truck cheesesteak battle at Yards Brewery in conjunction with the John T Edge cookbook event!
Compared to other food trucks, Lil Dan’s Gourmet Truck looks rather plain and nondescript. It’s simply a white trailer with two boards listing its menus. Even the truck’s name is only noted on the top of the menu boards in relatively small print. Then again, it would be a mistake to judge it by its appearance. (Ed. Note- Dan is in the process of getting a fancy wrap to up the pizzaz)
Lil Dan’s, which parks at LOVE Park two to three times a week, serves up some complex and tasty sandwiches to sizable lunchtime crowds. In addition to standard grill fare of breakfast sandwiches, burgers, steak sandwiches and fries, Lil Dan’s also offers ten different gourmet sandwiches and rotating daily specials. The sandwiches are also very reasonably priced at between $5.50-7.50, and the staff is extremely considerate.
The first offering I tried was the Slick Nick ($6.50), which is a fresh breaded chicken cutlet served on a Liscio’s seeded roll. One of the notable features of Lil Dan’s is that even with the specific ingredients on each sandwich, you can personalize it based on your preferences. For the Slick Nick, there’s a choice of spinach or broccoli rabe (I chose spinach) and sharp or mild provolone cheese (is there any reason to not choose sharp?). I’m a big fan of Liscio’s bread, which is substantial but not excessive, and the seeded roll is also a nice touch. The chicken was good, though not the most tender cutlet I’ve ever had. Also, the cheese could have been spaced out better, as it was mostly in clumps in the middle of the bread. Anyway, the best was yet to come…
Next, I ordered the BBQ Pulled pork ($6.00). The pulled pork is smoked and then slathered with homemade barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. The barbecue sauce had a fantastic, almost addictive sweet flavor. In contrast to the provolone on the Slick Nick, the cheddar on the pulled pork was plentiful, and it was a nice complement to the rest of the sandwich. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Wanting to push the envelope, I gave the Pauly ($7.50) a shot. Consisting of thin sliced roasted Italian pork in either broccoli rabe or spinach (I tried the rabe), roasted peppers, provolone, and two fried eggs (you can actually decline the eggs if you want), the Pauly is not for the faint of heart. This sandwich has a pretty remarkable mixture of flavors. There’s the seasoned roast pork along with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe, and the bite of the sharp provolone. Then there are the fried eggs. Eggs are a pretty trendy topping in food establishments. Whether on a burger, pizza, or sandwich, many chefs feel “if you like it, then you should put an egg on it.” Not everyone appreciates the sloppiness of a runny egg, but it adds yet another element of texture and flavor. The sandwich was delicious, and I was stuffed.
With so many different options, daily specials, and the ability to customize your sandwiches, Lil Dan’s offers plenty of variety. Don’t be scared off by the line of folks waiting, as the end sandwich is worth the wait.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Well priced gourmet sandwich choices that are uncommon for a lunch truck grill
- The BBQ Pulled Pork is amazing
- Friendly servers
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The fried eggs on the Pauly make the sandwich messy to eat
- Not a lot of lighter calorie options
Lil Dan’s Gourmet Truck, LOVE Park (Monday, Friday) and 33rd and Arch (Thursday), 215-252-1677