Exploring the Charlotte Food Truck Scene
Food trucks are the â€śitâ€ť thing in the world of foodies, and everybody seems to be doing itâ€”myself included. So whatâ€™s the hype about? For a bustling bee like myself, who works 9-5 days uptown but not quite walking distance to anything, food trucks provide a great alternative to bringing lunch or eating out. Rather than spending an hour or longer and a chunk of change for a decent meal, food trucks deliver high quality cuisine for a fraction of the price and are [ideally] quick. On any given day I can find multiple food trucks within a few miles of my office and can hurry back to my desk, meal in hand. Plus, many food trucks Iâ€™ve come across embrace farm to table and use local ingredients that are in season.
I havenâ€™t nearly conquered the full roster of thirty-plus trucks (and new ones popping up every week), but I sure have sampled my fair share of mobile cuisine around the Queen City.
Hereâ€™s the round-up of my recent experiences:
They describe themselves as farm to table, serving only seasonal ingredients that are sourced locally. After fighting the temptation of pork belly tacos, chicken and waffles, and grass fed farmhouse burger, I ultimately decided on the fire roasted veggie wrap. The wrap was a delicious mĂ©lange of zucchini, squash, sweet potato, carrots, turnips, and arugula, all tossed in a creamy lemon pesto, and served in a spinach wrap. As far as rabbit food goes, a little heavy on the lemon pesto, but overall delicious!
I caughtÂ Bleu Bran outside Atherton Market for a Thursday lunch, but they can also be found at Unknown Brewery for happy hour some weekdays, at Food Truck Friday, and catering local events. Welcome to the roster, Bleu Barn!
I donâ€™t throw around words like â€śthe bestâ€ť or â€śmy favoriteâ€ť loosely, so I when I do, you can be sure I mean it. The black bean burger from The Herband Legend may be my favorite vegetarian burger I have ever had. Too often black bean burgers become a slop of mashed beans on bread with no patty shape or texture. This burger had a texture so similar to beef and such great flavor, I thought I have received the wrong order. The toppings were a perfect combination of Pepper Jack cheese, salsa, arugula and chipotle aioli. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The best part? Only set me back $6.50.
Aside from the veggie burger from heaven, The Herban Legend offers a lineup of international and American-inspired fare, which can be attributed to Chef Brian Seeleyâ€™s 7 month stint in Qatar. During this time, Brian was exposed to Sri Lankan, Filipino, Lebanese, and Egyptian cultures and cuisines, which inspired The Herban Legendâ€™s eclectic menu. Youâ€™ll find options such as Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Shawarma, and Filipino Pork belly, just to name a few. Bravo, Chef Brian!
So TK Kitchen is the highest rated food truck on Yelp, and I had heard greatÂ reviews for months before trying. Unfortunately, my experience just didnâ€™t live up to the hype. Not that it was bad, just not amazing. I am not a huge taco fan, so take my criticisms with a grain of salt, but TK Kitchen just wasnâ€™t my cup of tea. To each his or her own, right?
Here’s the break down:
Chana Masala Taco (Stewed Chick Peas in a Coconut Curry Sauce over Date and Apricot Cous Cous, topped with Goat Cheese & Scallions) – A little sweeter and not as spicy as your typical Indian chana masala as its stewed in a coconut curry sauce. Â Caught myself looking for a little more of the traditional dry, spicy taste, which I’m used to. The flavor and consistency of the date and apricot cous cous seemed to dominate the taco, but all-in-all, I was impressed with how well all the flavorsÂ sung the same tune.
Chicken Tinga Taco (Chipotle Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, & Charred Onions, topped with Salsa Verde, Queso Fresco Crumbles, & Scallions) – This was probably the most traditional of the three and my favorite. I was a little disappointed with the texture of the chicken, a little on the dry side but it did have great flavor. TheÂ salsa verde was a great compliment for the dry chicken! Charred onions were a great touch.
BBQ Beef Brisket Taco (Slow Braised Beef Brisket with House-made Chipotle Barbeque Sauce, Chipotle Slaw, & Shaved Scallions) – So where I thought the Chicken Taco was a little dry, this taco had way too much moisture. The brisket was dripping barbecue than smothered in chipotle slaw. The taco was soggy before I got around to finishing it. Chipotle overload for me and no other flavor except the scallions to even it out…Meh.
Like I mentioned, this place has great ratings and just opened a brick and mortar in Uptown, so they must be doing something right. I will definitely be trying something other than the tacos next time aroundÂ (perhaps the chipotle chicken quesedilla?) and I am genuinely looking forward to it!
Another newbie to the Charlotte food truck scene, and similar to Bleu Barn Bistro, they seemed to be still figuring things out. Service was a tad slow, but extremely friendly, andÂ itÂ seemed like they weren’t expecting such a large crowd.
The concept is simple, a food truck entirely dedicated to Godâ€™s gift to mankindâ€”bacon. If you read my recap of drumstrong, than you may already be familiar with this place. Aside from the classics such as the bacon burger and pork rinds they also have a few more inventive items such as a bacon-wrapped hotdog and chicken bacon brochettes.
I ordered the Piggy Panini, which came with ham, bacon, smoked Gouda, lettuce and tomato. All the ingredients were plentiful and seemed to be very fresh. Too often I feel Paniniâ€™s arenâ€™t toasted quite enough, but the cheese was perfectly melted, and a great compliment to the thick smoky ham and crispyÂ bacon. I paired it with a Starr Hill Grateful IPA and some live music and was a happy camper, indeed.
I read later that drumstrong had been the most successful day in Master Baconâ€™s history. I hope this has since been beaten and I canâ€™t wait to get my Master Bacon fix in the near future!
What food trucks from this list have you tried?Â Which would you recommend I try and include next time? Let us know in the comments below!