Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tasting is believing, why you need to ride the foodtruck wave now


To be frank, our family doesn't go out to eat all that often.  Typically, I prefer to cook with my wife or I enjoy grilling over charcoal, of course.  In part, we don't eat out all that often because living in East Tennessee leaves us with few options to choose from outside of the stale worn out chain-restaurant.  Man, I miss the diversity of the food in the Chicagoland area.  Even though we rarely go out to eat, we almost never pass up a local foodtruck junction.

Today my wife and I went to the Farmer's Market in downtown Kingsport to attend the foodtruck junction.  Judging by the overflowing garbage cans surrounding today's event and the long lines at the foodtrucks, we weren't the only ones to get our fill.  The Farmer's Market was an excellent choice of venues and today's foodtruck junction drew a varied crowd of all ages.  Tattooed hipsters with their dogs in tow and young families pushing strollers were side-by-side with elderly people, all waiting in line to sample the great food that was being offered.  

I've been in construction on and off for 30 years, and today's foodtrucks aren't to be confused with the trucks that pull up on the jobsite selling sandwiches and coffee, the ones we've lovingly nicknamed maggot-wagons.  Also, don't confuse today's foodtrucks with fastfood restaurants.  The new breed of foodtrucks offer gourmet choices and they provide a wide variety of menu options.   The foodtrucks of today optimize social media and they collaborate with other foodtrucks to bring together a mobile foodcourt extraordinaire. 

Our first stop, as always, is at the Foodiefiction foodtruck.  The owner & multi-talented chef is Michael Archdeacon, an expatriot of New York.  I'm guessing many of the people who were sampling the foodtrucks at today's event didn't know that Michael was once the head chef at a local favorite, The Troutdale.  We sampled his brisket taco.  We were sad they were already out of their delicious mac & cheese creation, small squares of fried mac & cheese.  Foodiefiction has a menu that will absolutely rock your world. 

We also hit up another great foodtruck, the Caribbean Grill.  The Ramos family operates this truck.  They moved to the Tricites about 10 years ago from New Jersey, and they've been running their foodtruck for about 4 years now.  They have several fine options to choose from, but I always get their Cuban sandwich.  

Something I've noticed.  New restaurants in our area seem to go through a similar phase, at first everyone rushes to get in line, then when the new wears off, a new restaurant hardly every gets a second thought from the locals.  This isn't the case with foodtrucks.   

I think part of the reason the foodtruck craze is so captivating to both the entrepreneurs who strive to provide an excellent experience and the customers who wait outdoors to eat, is due to the flexibility and versatility of the venue.  Each time you go to a foodtruck junction, it is like a new experience.  The offerings are fresh, crafted with a personal flair, not like the mass produced prepackaged food you get in a chain restaurant. And, when these foodtrucks gather in one location, it's a win-win for everyone.

I'm guessing that local brick & mortar restaurants see the foodtrucks as competition.  And though the experience is different dining off of a foodtruck, while the prices and the wait are about the same, I'm glad to see the foodtrucks give the old establishment a run for their money.  

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