Vellee Deli fans can celebrate: the food truck’s skyway restaurant has finally opened.
The brick-and-mortar restaurant can be found in the Baker Center at 109 S. 7th St, a short distance from the IDS Center.
Right around lunchtime, hungry skyway troopers can expect a bit of a wait. During a Wednesday trip around noon, a lunch rush of a at least two dozen stretched outside the restaurant into the skyway. Just below, a handful of food trucks returned to Marquette, several for the first time this season.
Those who have tried the food truck won’t be disappointed in the skyway counterpart. The menu includes favorites like the Chicken Currito, Vellee Rolls and banh mi sandwiches, in addition to a few new items that are usually reserved for the food truck’s specials, like the duck confit banh mi and chips with guacamole or pineapple salsa.
The duck confit banh mi ($9.25) features slow-poached, cured meat that’s sweet, tender and layered on a thick baguette. Crisp do chua (house-pickled daikon radish and carrot), cucumber and jalapenos balance out the melt-in-your-mouth meat and pate. Prepare to use a few napkins with this sandwich.
More sides also had some variety. A sizable bag of chips paired with medium-hot pineapple salsa ($3.50), heavy on both fruit and kick, pairs nicely with the restaurant’s eclectic flavors.
For newcomers, it’s recommended to try Vellee Deli’s staples, such as The Mojo or the Chicken Currito. The Mojo is a banh mi sandwich with Hmong lemongrass sausage with sweet and spicy pico de gallo and chunks of fresh papaya. For vegetarians, Vellee Deli has a couple tofu and veggie entree options.
The restaurant will be a year-long destination for fans who want to enjoy the special mix of Asian and Mexican cuisine from co-owners Will Xiong and Joyce Truong. And unlike the food truck, the restaurant seats nearly 40, which does a lot to make the claustrophobic skyway feel a bit more like a slower-paced neighborhood joint.
The restaurant wouldn’t be complete with at least a nod to the version on wheels. The pickup counter is a spitting image of the food truck, complete with the Vellee Deli logo and window.
Before expanding to a less mobile eatery, the two experimented with a pop-up shop in Crema in South Minneapolis, which ran January through May of last year.
The skyway location joins other successful food trucks in spinning the concept into a brick-and-mortar store. World Street Kitchen, Smack Shack, Hola Arepa and Sassy Spoon have all combined their mobile markets with traditional restaurants.
Photos by Eric Best