Appeared on SideDish on April 30, 2013
A valuable lesson that I’ve learned this past weekend: even though you may be on your way to a food festival or a popular restaurant, don’t starve yourself in anticipation.
The Texas Food Truckin’ Fest took place April 26-27 at the Rangers Ballpark, featuring 34 food trucks that were parked and ready to serve me and what seemed like half of the Dallas population. But what did I expect? In Texas, we like our food and we do it big.
Eager to eat, my mom, my brother, and I arrived at the ballpark and about a dozen delicious aromas greeted us as we approached the entrance gate. Once inside, a large crowd was seated and watching a baseball game on a large screen, though I confess I do not know what teams were playing since I was already halfway across the crowd and darting toward the trucks.
Our first stop was Maui Wowi, a colorful, Hawaiian themed truck that offered several fruit smoothies and even gourmet Hawaiian coffee. Though the weather was hot and mercifully breezy, I was ready for my Pina Colada smoothie. And boy, did it hit the spot.
Further down the row of food trucks, we stopped at an attractive, vibrant purple truck aptly named The Big Purple Truck–the latest venture from Chef Tim Love. We ordered a shredded chicken sandwich and a chopped beef sandwich; both came with a side of potato chips. I ventured off to the next truck, a red one called First Bite Gourmet. Though the line was long, I persevered and ordered an interesting item called First Bell, fresh-cut fries topped with brisket, tomato, cilantro, onion, cheese, and avosauce. I handed over my credit card, fully aware that the dish would either be delicious or horribly wrong.
Half an hour and 20 photos later, we dug in. The homemade potato chips from The BPT, while crunchy and flavorful at first, began to taste unbearably salty halfway through. Similarly, I had higher hopes for the chopped beef sandwich which tasted uninspiring and similar to what I could get at a local diner. The layer of sauce under the chopped beef contained some type of seed that was extremely spicy. As a connoisseur of all things spicy, I shamefully admitted defeat three-quarters of the way in. My brother expressed similar distaste of the shredded chicken, though he cleaned his plate (presumably because of his male ego).
The First Bell dish, however, redeemed our food experience of the day. First Bite Gourmet had successfully taken French fries, traditionally a side dish in most meals, and integrated it into the dish itself. Even more impressive was that the fries were firm and not a soggy mess, despite being layered under the toppings.
Our last stop was The Jolly Trolley Express, and this, readers, is where I bring us back to my first point: always be prepared for a wait at a festival or restaurant. 20 eager people were in line before us, almost all for the same order—the Pineapple Explosion.
A hollowed-out pineapple filled with either a smoothie or snow-cone flavor and topped with whip cream was our treat after a one hour wait. The strawberry smoothie was slightly over sweetened, but still refreshing, and the pineapple chunks that were given separately were the sweetest and most delicious that I’ve had in a while. Was it worth waiting an hour in line? Maybe not. But I did it for you, SideDishers.
The evening brought the announcement of the winner of the Best Truckin’ Food Truck Contest, which was voted on by attendees throughout the two-day event. Empananda Armada came out on top, a truck that I regrettably did not get to visit. I will be sure to stop by another time though; the sweet smells coming from the truck were so enticing.
Sheila Dang is a D Magazine intern and a junior at UT Dallas majoring in Economics.