Best Meal On Wheels

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Ralphie's Crossroads Cafe
There’s always a crowded grill on Ralphie’s Crossroads Cafe food truck. (Photos by Steve Mosco)

Food trucks are a trend, but Ralphie’s Crossroads Cafe is an institution—a mobile, yet permanently parked eatery that would exist in all its savory splendor with or without the trend.

A favorite of truckers and anyone looking for food to fuel a long car trip or a meal to make them sleepy after lunchtime, Ralphie’s Crossroads Cafe is food freedom on four wheels—with a robust array that will make serious eaters stand up and salute with tears in their eyes.

Parked in the lot of a fabric store on the service road of the Long Island Expressway near exit 48 in Plainview, Ralphie’s Crossroads Cafe is a food truck that specializes in making every passerby fat and happy with meat-stuffed sandwiches, unique creations and even a few sweet dessert options, all served quickly at a fair price by the man himself, the gregarious Ralphie, and his supporting cast of cooks.

Ralphie's Crossroads Cafe
The steak hero is a loaded favorite at Ralphie’s.

Ralphie’s is serious. Yes, he serves hot dogs, but this is not a typical dirty water dog truck. Along with steak heroes, sausage and peppers, homemade soups and unbeatable breakfasts, Ralphie’s boasts a rotating menu of daily specials. On a given day, Ralphie offers incredible egg sandwiches—including one using off-the-bone spiral-cut ham and one served on a donut-French toast hybrid known as a Fronut—as I said, Ralphie’s is serious.

As for lunch, recent specials included a pulled pork sandwich served on a sweet Hawaiian bun with slaw, and a turkey melt on a garlic bread hero with pepper jack cheese and Russian dressing. These items and others prove that Ralphie’s is about much more than sheer size of a sandwich, there is substance to every meal coming off of that truck. Meats teem with flavor from the flattop grill and sandwiches are constructed with the care and knowledge of a crew that has clearly flexed its chops in the food prep world for some time.

Of Ralphie’s regular lunch items, the steak sandwich is massively satisfying. It features sliced flank steak with large strips of onion and gooey, stretchy mozzarella cheese all piled high and packed into a hero for a jaw-unhinging bite. The steak is tender to the tooth and juicy beyond expectation. The aforementioned pulled pork special is another must order when it’s available. Fatty where it counts, the pork is luscious and seasoned with a mild savory kick, elevated further by the soft, sweet Hawaiian bun and slaw.

Ralphie's Crossroads Cafe
Ralphie’s pulled pork special

Ralphie has a nickname for everyone who saunters up to his truck, including, “Junior,” “Handsome” and “ZZ Top,” just to name a few. And his regulars have their go-to favorites, including the pastrami Reuben, Block Island Chowder, seafood empanadas, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a strikingly neon buffalo chicken hero with bleu cheese crumble.

As for a taste of the sweet stuff, on this particular day Ralphie offered up a light-as-air carrot cake, complete with that all-too-addictive cream cheese frosting. Washed down with a fresh-squeezed lemonade, it is the perfect exclamation point to a momentous meal.

Ralphie’s Crossroads Cafe, 219 S. Service Rd., Plainview; 516-459-8673

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Steve Mosco is editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, editor of Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald and Levittown Tribune, and a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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