Panama City, FL: Jump On The Food Truck Revolution

Food Truck Alley

by Meridith Kaufman |

Food Truck Alley

SEASIDE — Yvonne Rolufs didn’t know what to order as she approached the six classic airstream food trucks. She wandered from one menu to the next as her cohorts divvied up and found their niche. But when she saw The Meltdown on 30A, a gourmet grilled cheese food truck, Rolufs got in line.

“I saw the word ‘arugula,’ and I had to come here,” Rolufs said. “I’m from New Orleans, so going to a food truck isn’t normal, but it’s here.”

Meltdown is grilled cheese mecca combining thick bread with different cheeses, meats and vegetables.

“Our focus is the cheese,” manager Matthew Lansing said. “We play around with it, but we try to keep it no frills and give a quick, high-quality product.”

During Spring Break, Meltdown was packed with a line of people from their window to the street for four hours.

“We do what restaurants can’t; we get to experiment and try new things,” Lansing said.

They grill the classics of American and cheddar, but they also spice it up with combinations such as brie, bacon with cranberry walnut bread, or goat cheese, prosciutto and arugula.

“The best part about the carts is when you’re with a bunch of people, everyone can get what they want and it’s all in one spot,” Rolufs said. “I go where I see good food, whether it’s in a restaurant or a food truck.”

Rolufs is like many visitors and residents of Seaside who are intriguead by the food trucks that have gathered behind the Seaside amphitheater. It began with Jenifer Kuntz and her food truck, Raw and Juicy. Kuntz started Raw and Juicy in April 2008 to educate people about what they were eating and to bring the community together.

Raw and Juicy is an organic foods and juice bar that combines fruits, vegetables and roots into unusual, but good drinks. The Beetlejuice is an apple, beet, lime and ginger concoction that adds some color and spice to the frothy drink.

“I saw a Club Med atmosphere up and down Seaside for the tourists, but nothing for the residents,” Kuntz said. “I wanted to bring the community together, and this started as part of a health and wellness center, but Raw and Juicy just took off.”

The community began to notice Kuntz when she revived the farmers market.

“It became like an adult lemonade stand,” Kuntz said. “It became a place where people saw in each other in the community and where they could come to hang out.”

However, it was not only people flocking to Kuntz’s cart. Other food trucks began lining up behind the amphitheater as well. As airstreams followed Kuntz’s lead, Seaside soon found itself embracing a food revolution.

Airstreams also include Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs, Barefoot BBQ and Frost Bites. Each one has its own signature culinary style to attract all kinds of foodies.

Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs are made from grass-fed meats, from beef to pork and put into a lamb casing that adds a nice snap to each bite. Wild Bill’s is for the health conscious: Each hot dog is 136 calories with 13 grams of fat, and each bratwurst has 144 calories 8 grams of fat.

The Towsley family took up residence at the tables in front of Wild Bill’s.

“We’ve been to all the fancy restaurants all week, and we just went shopping and wanted a place where we didn’t have to shower to go to,” Shannon Towsley said.

Amy Grace and Liza Blanton found a cool way to help their 14-month-old, Emmie Grace, to cool off — a frozen chocolate-dipped banana from Wild Bill’s.

“It is right by the beach, and the banana was a huge hit,” Amy Grace said.

Visitors can enjoy a snow cone or iced drink at Frost Bites. It has traditional flavors such as blueberry, but they add a twist of topping it with a sweet cream.

“My favorite is the strawberry with cream,” Ella Harman, 7, said as she put a heaping spoonful of flavored ice dripping cream into her mouth.

For the Harman women, Frost Bites is a tradition every time grandma comes into town.

“I can’t get this at home; no one else makes anything like it,” grandmother Pam Hawley from Monroe, La., said.