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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Food trucks

Buy a taco from a food truck? Uh, no, thank you. You've seen those trucks outside construction sites and can only imagine the greasy quality of the food. I prefer my tacos in a clean restaurant, thank you very much.
But food trucks have gone upscale lately. What you might call gourmet food trucks have become the rage. In Fort Worth, they park all over the city, with the blessings of a city license. Suppose you were a frustrated restauranteur--lot cheaper to operate a food truck than open a restaurant. In this economy, that's a big bonus. And business isn't so good at one location? No problem--just pack it up and drive somewhere else. Some food truck owners see their mobile kitchen as a test run for a permanent restaurant in the future--and some just like cooking on the move. Many food trucks provide late-at-night food, something often sought by college students and bar-hoppers. In Fort Worth, the Ol' South Pancake House is the classic all-night restaurant--some TCU students study there in the wee hours--but now you can get tacos from Taco Heads on Seventh Street or upscale hot dogs from The Weiner Man, which is open from 7 p.m. until 2:30 in the morning, serving hot dogs steamed in beer, or bacon-wrapped and deep-fried.
Is the food cheap? Not necessarily. If the vendor is going to sell quality produce, he or she has to price the final product to cover costs. One vendor makes frequent trips to the farmers' market to buy the freshest produce--not a cost-saving device.It's a hard thing to overcome the public mindset that truck food is cheap food. Hot dogs? Well, they're cheap at 7-11.But once people try the Weiner Man's hot dogs, they reaize the difference.
Some trucks operate independently with generators, but others hook up to a "host" business, often a restaurant. A few, like the Chef Point truck, are rolling advertisements for an existing restaurant.
In Fort Worth, tacos and hot dogs still seem to dominate the market. Sassy Hot Dogs offers a flour tortilla wrapped around a hot dog and ten other ingredients--the mind boggles at what they could be--and deep fried. But having had a deep-fried hot dog in a tortilla, I'm eager to try it. The Chef Point Cafe on Wheels serves fried chicken and bread pudding at the noon hour in downtown Fort Worth and Ssahm Korean Tacos offers the Korean version of tacos and burritos. The Trough Burger serves burgers, dogs,and sandwiches, and the Central Market Herban Eater Assault Truck parks on the grocery store ground to offer a changing menu of gourmet delights.
Supposedly coming soon is a truck with the slogan, "Have sugar, will travel." Red Jett Sweets will offer, no surprise, cupcakes. And Good Karma Kitchen plans to provide gluten-free vegan and vegetarian dishes.  Watch for fish tacos from So-Cal Tacos soon.
Is there a food truck in your city? If not, put a buzz in the ear of a local restauranteur and suggest he or she try it.

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