By Kelsey Hamm | The Appalachian
In Boone, food trucks come and go. Few stick around to become steady community staples. For now, Boone hosts what some local foodies call “the holy trinity” of food truck options: one for authentic Mexican cuisine, one truck for traditional Japanese and one for “after you’ve had a few,” local Don Marks said.
July 2014 marked the month of the trinity’s completion, when now 22-year-old Miriam Hernandez opened Taco King Taqueria at 1104 NC Highway 105 outside of Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants.
The truck is open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and features $1.50 tacos, $2.50 sopes and $6 quesadillas made fresh every day with Hernandez family authentic recipes. Hernandez works with her mom and family to make the truck a success, but she is primarily responsible for business decisions and finances.
“I’m half owner with my mother and law,” Hernandez said. “This is really traditional food, we make our own tortillas which are corn tortillas and we make what people like, which is fresh food.”
Hernandez makes everything used in the truck’s dishes before work every day, sometimes overshooting or undershooting the mark for demand depending on weather. She does not save food for the next day – everything customers consume is cut and cooked near the time of order.
“We make meat every day, we cut lettuce and the vegetables so we do have options for vegetarian people, vegan people and of course gorditas and tacos for people who eat meat and vegetables,” Hernandez said.
The truck has gained an incredible amount of support from the community, with consistent long lines and crowds squishing into Peabody’s seating areas on weekends.
Less than a mile from Taco King Taqueria and tucked outside of Appalachian Mountain Brewery at 163 Boone Creek Drive is Farm to Flame, or “wood fired street food” according to the truck’s website.
The food truck is an extension of AMB and a way for the Boone community to have a unique dining experience while consuming the different beverages, Farm to Flame founder and owner Danny Wilcox said. Wilcox said he developed the truck’s recipes himself.
“The truck features a new local farmer’s food every month,” Wilcox said. “The goal here is to really connect local food with the community, as Appalachian Mountain Brewery does with their draft selection.”
Fan favorites include the truck’s beer based sauces and appetizers, like the sweet potato hummus with brown sugar and cinnamon pita points. Local food fanatic Whit Barnes is employed with veggie prep for ASU at Roess Dining Hall and notes that the selections are “to die for.”
“It may seem weird to order a caprese skewer with alcohol, but it’s absolutely delicious and I’m a big fan of the honey glaze that goes on top,” Barnes said. “The main dishes they serve are pizza, and there’s one with two types of meat, ricotta and pineapple that I just love.”
For Japanese cuisine, students can head over to 1856 NC Highway 105 Bypass to visit Phan’s Japanese Express, opened by Lei Phan in 1999. This truck is farthest from campus and popular with students at The Cottages who don’t have to travel far to visit. Phan’s combination plates come with rice, sweet carrot and shrimp sauce, and there are plenty of traditional dishes to choose from like teriyaki chicken with broccoli or yakiniku.
“The truck really does seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but that’s what is really great about it,” senior accounting major Rohahn Wolde-Georgis said. “There is nothing better than rice, especially how Phan’s does it. It’s so filling and simple but that’s the point.”
These food trucks are successful, but other food trucks like the now-closed Vitality Fresh Fast Food have not fared well within the town. For new food truck owners, there are hurdles to jump over. The town of Boone, Hernandez said, is “not used to food trucks,” and inspection for potential owners hoping to open in the area is strict. Unlike Raleigh and other cities that host consistent food truck festivals, Boone depends on whether or not potential owners can handle the endeavor and the excessive amount of paperwork necessary for maintaining an up-to-code truck.
“My mom used to work in Mexico at a little taqueria,” Hernandez said, “When we came here there was so much paperwork, and since she cannot speak English, it was hard. So when I grew up I knew I wanted to create a small business and that’s when I started to make her traditional food.”
On snowy days, Hernandez will put up a sign on the pole outside to let customers know they are closed. In the future, she hopes to gain more management experience and open a restaurant of her own.
“I’ve been having a lot of questions like ‘When are you going to open a restaurant?’” she said. “We’re famous because of you all, you come and you spread the word. Thank you.”