How much food could a food truck truck if a food truck could truck food? A lot. And the rolling restaurants have proliferated to the point that I saw the Meres Bulles vehicular unit parked outside an otherwise unassuming office-supply store the other day. You could call it the best food trend of the year (as Scene contributor Ashley Spurgeon did in this year's Food & Beverage BONs) or you could call it a new set of fixtures on our ever-growing dining scene.
Either way, 2011 marked the first year that Best Food Truck was a category for Best of Nashville — congrats to The Grilled Cheeserie, Mas Tacos, Pizza Buds, Labor of Love, Jonbalaya and Riffs for their various reader- and writer-appointed honors — and here's to the up-and-comers that have joined the ranks since this year's BON ballot closed.
Speaking of food trucks ...
The first-ever Battle of them took over the Greer Stadium parking lot on Sunday, with 16 trucks dishing up samples of their finest comestibles for a sold-out crowd, some of whom were actually smart enough to bring folding chairs. (The event doubled as a fundraiser for The Tomorrow Fund.) In spite of not being smart enough to bring seating, I was a "secret judge" — If you were there, I was secretly judging you the whole time — and ate way too much as a result.
(At one point, I was washing down a peanut butter ganache cup from the Sugar Wagon — think incredibly high-end Reese's cup, only better than that — with a Big Surrup milkshake from Moovers and Shakers. Rich! And that was after I had tasted everything on the savory side, including at least a Korean taco, shrimp and grits, fried pickled okra, white bean chowder, a lemongrass rice bowl, a "pork parfait" and a tasty crab-cake slider from the aforementioned Meres Bulles.) An auspicious first time out for this event.
Winners were Riffs (savory) and Cupcake Collection (sweet), and runners-up were Deg Thai (savory) and Sugar Wagon (sweet). Riffs won overall. Best first impression went to Deg Thai, which on only their second day in business handed out one of the best things I've ever eaten: a chicken quesadilla with a stripe of knee-weakening Panang curry sauce on top.
If you're not all truckered out after that, there will be a food truck rally in the Big Loud Shirt parking lot (1111 16th Ave. S. on Music Row) this Wednesday, Oct. 12, featuring Riffs, Cupcake Collection and Happy Eating. That should tide you over between Food Truck Tuesday at Second Harvest, and Food Truck Friday at the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, not to mention all the regular docking opportunities (Musicians Corner, Live on the Green, Yazoo, etc.)
Speaking of speaking of food trucks, the Traffic and Parking Commission will be meeting this Monday, Oct. 10, and a quick glance at the agenda [PDF] will tell you that mobile food vending is on the agenda once again.
As one truck operator told me on Sunday, "My gut feeling is that it's going to be put to some kind of vote this time around." More on the back-and-forth over regulations here, here here and most recently, here.
Food trucks! Will we be talking about shipping containers next year? Let's not and say we did.