When you were a kid, there was something immensely exciting about playing in the front yard and hearing the sweet song of the ice-cream truck making its way up the street. Sure, you could have bought those crappy treats at any convenience store, but there was something special about chasing down the moving vehicle, inhaling exhaust fumes, and taking that first bite.
As is usually the case when you grew older, chasing ice-cream trucks became beneath you. And food trucks, often referred to as “roach coaches,” were jalopies filled with cheap eats that must be avoided.
Then, one day, that was no longer the case. After the economy tanked in 2008, restaurant startups slowed, but some crafty individuals packed up their knives and filled their trucks with gourmet delicacies serving creative riffs on everything from chicken wings and burgers to tacos and ethnic-focused fare.
Today the food-truck scene in South Florida is populated with a number of creative options. With food-truck roundups
taking place most days of the week, there’s always an option for a variety of taste buds.
10. Curbside Gourmet
Call 561-371-6565, or visit curbsidegourmet.com
Matthew Somsy is one of the chef-owners behind West Palm Beach-based Curbside Gourmet, which rolled onto the Palm Beach County food truck scene in 2011 — often considered the first in those parts. Today, they continue to specialize in serving the local lunching crowd. Locations change by the day, as does the menu, with everything from the soup du jour to daily fresh catch tacos and a panini of the day. Signature items include the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich served with a balsamic mustard, or the crab cake sliders prepared with a lemon-tarragon aioli. The food has been praised by celebrity chef Robert Irvine, who crowned them a winner during a food truck event at the 2012 Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival for a dish dubbed Skirt Steak Two Ways, a lemongrass-Asian flank steak tacos with cilantro-lime slaw and an heirloom tomato salad with Argentine steak and beer-battered shallots.
9. Crazydilla Food Truck
Call 786-301-4886, or visit crazydilla.com.
As the name suggests, Crazydilla Food Truck chef-owner Noah Tanner takes the quesadilla and does some crazy things to it. The truck offers a concise menu of eight signature quesadillas — which can also be ordered as tacos — each of them a riff off on some of the most popular sandwiches. That includes the signature Cubadilla, a spin on a traditional Cuban sandwich with pulled pork, serrano ham, pickles, and Swiss cheese accented with a garlic-mustard aioli. Our favorites are just as zany, however, like the Reuben made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing or the Caprese with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and finished with a tangy balsamic reduction dipping sauce. Crazydilla also keeps it real with the final menu item, a traditional Mexican quesadilla for the purists that think the original is as good as it can get already.
8. Spring In Roll Out
Call 561-385-5332, or visit facebook.com/Springinrollout.
This white truck adorned with two plump panda faces is hard to miss, a rolling kitchen that serves up Vietnamese cuisine. The brainchild of Maky Huynh, the chef says he got his recipes from his father, a native of Vietnam who taught him everything he knows in the kitchen. The menu items are mostly traditional, but with a few tweaks, of course. Everything is made fresh to order, a menu that offers a handful of bánh mì options, each featuring a different meat (barbecue pork, lemongrass pork or lemongrass chicken, plus pork pâté as an additional request) constructed in tradition bánh mì format with fresh baguette, daikon radish, pickled carrots, sliced cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro, and garlic mayo. For a lighter bite, try the spring rolls rolled in pastry paper and filled with carrots and jicama. Available in pork or turkey, they're fried to golden perfection. The summer rolls — available with pork, lemongrass chicken, or shrimp — are lighter and a touch more refreshing on hot days. The housemade peanut sauce is the perfect accompaniment.
7. Box of Chacos
Call 954-648-6535, or visit boxofchacos.com.
A Chinese taco truck? In South Florida, anything goes. And, when it comes to Box of Chacos, the pairing proves the melding of these two cultures is a match made in heaven. The man behind this unusual East-meets-West concept is chef-owner David Peck, former chef for Tap 42 turned "chief chaco" thanks to his concept, dubbed Box of Chacos. From North Miami to Fort Lauderdale, Peck serves specialties like the Tio Tsao's five-spice pork with a spicy green salad, queso, sweet Chinese soy, and a spicy mayo or the Pink Chaco, with seared ahi tuna and sesame salad. But it's Peck's attention to detail and knowledge of Asian cuisine — something he learned from Mark Militello's namesake restaurant and sushi centric Nobu in Dallas — that gives his food an extra edge. That, coupled with time spent in Tex-Mex-loving Texas, gives you the best of both cultures, wrapped into a single tortilla. Each Chacos taco is sold à la carte, including seasoned Black Angus steak with fried cheese, house kimchi, and the chef's own special sauce. There's also meat-free and vegan menu items from the deep-fried and breaded avocado prepared with quinoa and a touch of spicy mayo to chipotle braised jackfruit "carnitas" served with pineapple salsa, tofu, and a dairy-free "krema."
6. The Waffle Wagon
Call 561-262-3500, or visit facebook.com/thewafflewagonfl.
Chicken and waffles may have been so 2013, but everything old is new again thanks to a West Palm Beach-based food truck. Waffle Wagon co-owners Kelley Leafe and Salvatore Accardi are serving this classic combination, along with a number of sweet and savory variations, from their newly launched food truck.
They wanted something popular — and easy — as evidenced by the truck's hand-breaded chicken tenders, a light flour-based batter that fries up to a beautiful golden brown crisp with just a touch of heat. What makes this truck unique, however, is the couples' recipe for Liege-style waffles. A special bread-like pastry dough based largely on 18th- and 19th-century brioche, Liege waffles are made using bread flour, milk, and a near obscene amount of yeast. But what really sets the Liege waffle apart from the classic Belgian waffle is the use of Belgian pearl sugar — large, bead-like globes of glucose made from beet sugar grown in Tienen, Belgium. Baked into the waffle mix, these candy-like pearls caramelize within the waffle as it cooks, resulting in a crunchy pocket of sweetness. The Waffle Wagon also serves several savory waffle dishes. There's the popular New York Chicken & Waffles (Buffalo-hot-sauce-marinated chicken tenders served with a waffle and blue cheese or ranch slaw) or Wu Tang Waffle (sweet teriyaki chicken tenders served with a waffle and soy ginger slaw). For purists, the standard Chicken & Waffles (plain chicken tenders served with a waffle and choice of maple syrup or dijon maple mustard) will hit the spot.