Around dinnertime on April 3, only two of the Mark’s Carts food vendors were still toughing it out. But Nick Wilkinson, the owner of A2 Pizza Pi, said that at least a handful of food trucks had braved that day’s storm and the weekend cold to feed hungry customers in the open space just west of Ann Arbor’s Main Street. Of course, all the food carts were in attendance on opening day the previous Friday.
Once a parking lot on West Washington Street between First and Ashley, Mark’s Carts has become an open-air market of sorts, under the direction of Mark Hodesh — who also founded Ann Arbor favorite Fleetwood Diner 40 years ago. The court’s eight eateries on wheels cook up casual bites from around the world. On March 30, the Mark’s Carts evening reopening celebration coincided with FoolMoon, the prelude to the city’s puppet parade FestiFools, and sported a fire pit and live music nearby.
Wilkinson’s A2 Pizza Pi is one of three new carts that have parked their wheels here this year — Cheese Dream and the Beet Box have also joined the ranks. Wilkinson built his rolling pizzeria with the help of friends, and cooks his thin-crust pizzas next to his cart, in a freestanding wood-burning oven (also a natural heat lamp on chillier spring days). One of his specialties is the “Chard (but not burned)” pizza, speckled with local Swiss chard.
Next door, Swaroop Bhojani serves up Indian street food from Hut-K Chaats. Bhojani modifies recipes that are traditionally a fried calorie-fest by using healthy ingredients — including dried fruit as a sweetener, and a beet juice with ginger that’s sure to befuddle the taste buds. He’s coined his creations “nutrilicious,” and has plenty of vegan and gluten-free options to up the ante.
Though Mark’s Carts is already up and running, warmer weather will bring more regularity to the schedule. Returning carts from last year include the Lunch Room (specializing in vegan food), Debajo del Sol (Spanish), San Street (Asian) and Darcy’s Cart (local ingredients). Though the carts aren’t necessarily all open at the same time, frequent status updates are posted on the Mark’s Carts Facebook page and the various carts’ Twitter accounts.
Mark’s Carts is at 211 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor; markscartsannarbor.com.