Chicago: Food Truck Social

By Katie Johnson |

This Saturday welcomed Time Out Chicago and West Town Chamber of Commerce’s Food Truck Social. I got there a little later than I originally planned, but the timing actually turned out rather perfect. It was a cool and breezy night, the ideal atmosphere to squeeze in one last street fare event before the dog days of summer are officially over for the season. Getting there later in the evening meant a surprising amount of vendors were either sold out or had already closed up shop (even though the event was still going strong for another couple of hours). To me, that just meant I had a more selective amount of options. With a playground of food trucks at my disposal, it made the decision of which one to try incredibly easy. If you were open and had a line, I was making a beeline for you.

Luckily, quite quickly I stumbled across a food truck that meet both those criteria. A while back, I remembered reading an article about a new food truck hitting the streets (they seem to be popping up everywhere these days), Isla de Cafe of Humboldt Park. It just so happened that this adorable cafe style airstream was one of the few still cranking out food (with a side of a welcomed caffeine fix). It seemed almost like fate. With the trigger of reading about the truck in the past, I felt like I already was getting reacquainted with an old friend. The food looked delish and a hot drink on this breezy night was definitely calling my name. And the price was right to boot. I got a large Dulce De Leche infused drink, and a big as my head ham and cheese sandwich (garnished with a little powdered sugar, genius) for under ten buckaroos. I even got a free pastry for waiting five plus minutes to get my grub. Give me some free sweets and I’m sold. You don’t have to worry about me becoming a return customer after that!

A friend of mine joined me at this event and we decided to people watch and enjoy the DJ set list while we ate at the picnic style tables set up in the middle of the street. We split our sandwiches to try a taste of each; mine the slightly salty ham balanced out by the cheese with a pinch of sweet in the powdered sugar garnish, and hers a citrus meets spice flavor combo in the simple but delicious tuna sandwich. It was al fresco dining meets end of summer street festival and the food and the environment really hit the spot. And to finish it off we split my free pastry, the perfect balance of flaky buttery crust with a cheese and jam filling. People around us were dancing and having a great time, high off the adrenaline of enjoying freshly made food with good friends and good times. Which is the way it should be. Food bonds us. Food creates a sense of community and a common ground that we all share. For that reason, I definitely would like to see more events like this happening in Chicago. No matter how difficult the city may make it for mobile food businesses to get their start, it’s clear that the food truck craze isn’t going away anytime soon.

To that I say, keep cranking out the food, trucks!