Food Trucks Are Evolving Into Mall Toothpick Samplers on Wheels

Chez Elle - Kansas City

Chez Elle - Kansas City

By Jonathan Bender

We’ve all been snookered into eating kung pao chicken if it’s impaled by a toothpick on a plastic plate. Food you’d likely never eat suddenly seems a lot more palatable when it’s free and being foisted upon you from the floor of the mall food court.

A piece in Forbes suggests that food trucks are taking samples on the road. Part moving billboard, part cuisine experiment, food carts are suddenly about increasing brand recognition for brick-and-mortar restaurants, as opposed to providing a mobile kitchen for entrepreneurs.

It would seem that the rest of the country is just catching up with Kansas City. We don’t have a large food-truck culture — though in the coming weeks Fat City will be exploring the trucks around downtown — but the Roasterie’s Airstream trailer has been a fixture at First Fridays and fundraisers for years. Giving out samples is nothing new

So if samples are nothing new, let’s take the idea one step further and continue to push culinary boundaries here in Kansas City. What if the food trucks around town operated like a real food court, providing you with samples from different cuisine around town? How about a taco truck that sold you street tacos from Camino Real and Michael Smith? Or a sandwich truck that gave you crepes from Chez Elle and meatball subs from Pandolfi’s Deli?

Pandolfi's Deli - Kansas City

Imagine a food cart parked on 39th Street that let you grab dumplings from Po’s, a cup of hummus from the Jerusalem Cafe, or porcini gnocchi from Room 39. And you could discover what they had on a given day through Twitter or Groupon-style coupons. Consider this the new age version of menu browsing, where you’d get to sample the food before ultimately making your dinner decision.

We’ve all been snookered into eating kung pao chicken if it’s impaled by a toothpick on a plastic plate. Food you’d likely never eat suddenly seems a lot more palatable when it’s free and being foisted upon you from the floor of the mall food court.

A piece in Forbes suggests that food trucks are taking samples on the road. Part moving billboard, part cuisine experiment, food carts are suddenly about increasing brand recognition for brick-and-mortar restaurants, as opposed to providing a mobile kitchen for entrepreneurs.   It would seem that the rest of the country is just catching up with Kansas City. We don’t have a large food-truck culture — though in the coming weeks Fat City will be exploring the trucks around downtown — but the Roasterie’s Airstream trailer has been a fixture at First Fridays and fundraisers for years. Giving out samples is nothing new

So if samples are nothing new, let’s take the idea one step further and continue to push culinary boundaries here in Kansas City. What if the food trucks around town operated like a real food court, providing you with samples from different cuisine around town? How about a taco truck that sold you street tacos from Camino Real and Michael Smith? Or a sandwich truck that gave you crepes from Chez Elle and meatball subs from Pandolfi’s Deli?

Imagine a food cart parked on 39th Street that let you grab dumplings from Po’s, a cup of hummus from the Jerusalem Cafe, or porcini gnocchi from Room 39. And you could discover what they had on a given day through Twitter or Groupon-style coupons. Consider this the new age version of menu browsing, where you’d get to sample the food before ultimately making your dinner decision.