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Ithaca food trucks represent vibrant local community


Local food trucks bring authentic international cuisine and cultural connection to Ithaca and Tompkins County

Ithaca, New York, is known for its thriving restaurant scene, with more eateries per capita than New York City. A unique feature of the food culture in Ithaca that often gets buried under the hype of restaurants, however, is its food trucks and outdoor food stands.

These mobile and outdoor kitchens offer vibrant and diverse cuisines, bringing unique and often ethnic flavors to the local community. However, despite being a college town filled with thousands of food-loving students, the number of well-known food trucks in Ithaca is surprisingly low.

Many of these eateries, such as Tacos CDMX and Halal Brothers in Ithaca, offer authentic international cuisine that fosters cultural connections for the owners and customers. Visiting these trucks is an opportunity to witness a melting pot of flavors and people, and understand how Ithaca, much like any city, could benefit from more such eateries.

Halal Brothers in Ithaca Food Truck (Source: Himadri Seth for Ithaca Week).
CDMX Tacos
Located right next to the Ithaca ReUse Center in a small shack-style setup is Tacos CDMX, an ode to the typical street taco stands in Mexico City, from which the name “CDMX” originates. Eduardo Ayala, the owner of the eatery, is originally from Mexico City and started his food venture in Ithaca in July 2022.
While Ayala jokes about his primary motivation for running his taco business being “money,” it is the human interaction it gives him that he values the most. “I grew up in Mexico City, so I’m used to hundreds of thousands of people, so, for me, talking to other people is the best thing. And the money,” he chuckles.
CDMX offers a replica of a Mexico City taco stand, where customers can enjoy their tacos standing up, just like in Mexico. Ayala says that Americans are more comfortable sitting down while eating their food. This is why he has laid out a few tables and benches close to the stand.
“When I created this place, I wanted you to enjoy the experience of a Mexican street taco stand,” said Ayala, “this is a replica, the best I can do with the material…the only thing different is that in Mexico City you’re supposed to eat your tacos standing up. Over here, people want to sit down. So, this is a replica of the Mexico City taco stand.”
Ayala’s passion for his culture is evident in the flavors and atmosphere he creates at his food truck. He believes that having more open-air food trucks and stalls in Ithaca would create a unique experience for the community, creating what he calls a “melting pot.”
Daniel Lee, a customer at CDMX, says he likes coming to CDMX because of how quickly the food is made. “I like eating at CDMX because the food comes out quickly, and ordering is easy because the menu is very straightforward and good,” he said.
Lee enjoys eating at food trucks because they offer an alternative eating experience to dining at restaurants. “Food trucks usually feel more casual and cultural,” he added, “you pretty much get to see everything happen in front of you.”
Eduardo serving customers at CDMX (Source: Himadri Seth for Ithaca Week).
Halal Brothers in Ithaca
On the other side of town, located amidst the hustle-bustle of Collegetown, is a bright orange food truck called Halal Brothers in Ithaca. Mohanine, the truck’s owner, has brought his love for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine to Ithaca.
Originally from Morocco, Mohanine started his food truck business in Ithaca two years ago after seeing the growing interest in this type of food among the local community. “A lot of them (students) are very happy about my menu, my food, and everything,” he says.
Shezan Mohammad, a local guide and reviewer has only good things to say about the truck. “Amazing food. Some of the best food you can find in Ithaca…the meats are perfectly seasoned and the rice is delicious,” he writes.
Mohanine feels that his food truck helps him stay connected to his culture while also providing a delightful culinary experience to the people of Ithaca. “We have a special thing…this kind of food is different,” he explains.
When asked about the challenges of running a food truck in Ithaca during the winter months, Mohanine is optimistic. “For me, I have a nice food truck, very warm inside,” he says confidently. As summer approaches, Mohanine is ready for more customers lining up outside his truck.


Mohanine in front of his truck (Source: Himadri Seth).
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