Keep On Truckin Fest 2011

There is just something fun about ordering food from a truck and eating in an outdoor setting. Food trucks are moving on from the factory and construction sites and reaching for a place in mainstream dining alternatives.

Some Food Trucks even have professionally trained chefs. Today, you can have food trucks pull up to your office building, reserve one for your special event or, thanks to the efforts of The Weiner Man and Poag Mahones, you had catch up with several different trucks in one location. Keep On Truckin’ Fest is the first gathering of food trucks in Fort Worth. Held in the back parking lot of Poag Mahones, five different local vendors showed up to provide a variety of truck cuisine. There was live music on the patio of Poag Mahones featuring acoustical guitarist Brandon Thomas, Dylan cover band Wicked Messengers and Dirty Pool, another Fort Worth fixture playing blues and classic rock. Add an inflatable boxing ring with giant oversize gloves, a football toss and a money cage and you’ve got a party. While the location suggests the target demographic was adult (there are several bars in addition to Poag Mahones adjacent for your choice of adult beverage), the event was well attended by families as well.

We arrived early to beat the crowd and benefit from pacing ourselves so we could sample food from everyone. Crazy Sisters was the first to open up and where we started. The name, Crazy Sisters, clearly comes from the owners Gina Sanchez and Michelle Lawrence, and the totally live up to their motto, Come on out and get your crazy with us. The most interesting thing on the menu tonight was Mexican Grits accompanied by a variety of burgers, tacos and burritos. Grits and a couple of tacos (small by restaurant standards but common on food trucks) made a good appetizer and, by now, Weinerman was open for business.

If someone plans to specialize in one type of food, then it needs to be good and it should be unique. Weinerman hits it out of the park (kinda like those pesky St. Louis Cardinals were doing down the road in Arlington in game 3 of the World Series) on both counts. We were disappointed that our pre-trip choices of the Rahr Weiner and Alchemist weren’t offered, the Crunch Weiner was a scrumptious alternative and the Chips and Gouda just amazing. Come on tortilla chips and Gouda, who would have thought? And just in time, Red Jet Sweet arrives and sets up next door to provide a sweet ending to our progressive noshing, even if it ended up not being the end.

Red Jet Sweet follows the specialty script. You can have anything you want, as long as it is a cupcake. Pricey at 2.75 each, we decide to go for the volume discount and select a dozen ($25) in a variety of the offerings. Vanilla, Chocolate, Pumpkin and Red Velvet cupcakes topped with cream cheese icing and seasonal Halloween figures were all on the menu tonight. The bats and owls and colorful leaves are fun and seasonal but do nothing to help you identify which of flavors you are gazing on. They are consistent with Christina Jett-Meyer and Natalie Gamez’s goal to make eating their cupcakes fun (check out the photo on their website with custom designed. I thought they were a little small, unlike those we get from other cupcake vendors, but if you are in the mood to Seize the Sweet, then look up Red Jet Sweets.

Salsa Limon arrived late with their trailer but soon got set up and began offering their mostly authentic Mexican street fare. The late arrival limited our tasting to a single El Capitan but if this is an example of their offerings, I’m game to go back for more and the prices were very fair for the portions. I will admit, I was a little taken back when all of the food arrived in the back of a -up truck but no ill effects and this may have been an unusual “stocking” trip since I think they came from a prior engagement. Clearly not the sometimes scary experience you’d get buying from a roadside vendor in old Mexico with flies swarming around, Salsa Limon really does seem to live up to the slogan, Mexican done Mexican.

Taco Heads was set up in their “Semi-permanent” weekend site across the alley outside of 7th Haven where they routinely open up late (sometimes not until 10PM or so) to serve the bar crowd. They even offer Breakfast Tacos after midnight. I had to sample at least one taco (we had three) having heard good things about them. Again specializing, their menu here was a taco almost any way you want to design it with a wide variety of ingredients, toppings and both red and green salsa. I think they had the best tacos of the evening.

We topped the night off by running into James and Karen, the husband and wife team who own In A Pickle, a Fort Worth based sweet and spicy pickle specialty foods company, who has started to make a name and local following. James is Cajun and Karen is Lebanese. They will be joining the Food truck Movement shortly, as soon as they finish the required set up and permitting, on the 22-foot trailer they hauled back from Miami a few weeks ago. James loves to cook and, by his own admission, would rather work 18 hours a day cooking food he loves than work 8 hours a day in a boring job for somebody else. I can’t wait to sample his offerings, that he describes as “just good comfort food” that combines his spicy and flavorful Cajun roots with Karen’s smooth and interesting Lebanese flavors. James, you owe me some of that Jack Daniels Bread Pudding and I’m coming to get it as soon as you get out there!

This was a great event and I can’t wait to see more in Fort Worth. My only suggestion would be for more trucks that are different, but that will come as more trucks hit the streets of Fort Worth.

If you haven’t tried this new way of eating out, Google them by name or just Google “food trucks – your city” and see what comes up. Most of them are on Facebook and Twitter and that’s the best way to find out where they’ll be today. And if you want something in particular from their menu, give ‘em a tweet to make sure they’re serving it today since menus often vary.

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