Jacksonville: Bus’In Your Chops

The Bus'In Your Chops food truck sets up shop off of Riverside Avenue near the EverBank Building. GARY T. MILLS/The Times-Union
The Bus'In Your Chops food truck sets up shop off of Riverside Avenue near the EverBank Building. GARY T. MILLS/The Times-Union

The problem with a mobile food service is, well, it is mobile. Sometimes you see it; sometimes you don’t. I tried tracking down one of the newer “food on wheels” operations recently and had a couple of misses before I finally hit the jackpot on the Northbank Riverwalk with Bus’In Your Chops.

The bus is a colorful extension of two popular Riverside eateries — the Mossfire Grill and O’Brothers Irish Pub — and the owners and a chef hit the road usually twice a week.

Locations vary — and like I said, on two separate occasions the website was incorrect — but generally, every Thursday the bus can be found behind the Everbank Building on Riverside Avenue. Check out the website at www.businyourchops.com for additional evening excursions.

I’ve long been a fan of food that travels and used to make a regular stop at the “roach coach” near my house. No kidding.

They handmade their tortillas fresh for every order, pulled your marinated steak off the grill and caught local fish and shrimp for their soft tacos. Cilantro and salsa was prepped on a cutting board right before your eyes. It really doesn’t get much better.

The Bus’In crew may not rise to that level, but they do a pretty good job providing hot and fresh food with some nice variety. My Kapow Shrimp Taco ($3.50) was delicious and smartly put together, with two soft corn tortillas soaking up a tangy lime sauce, chunky coleslaw and five crispy shrimp. Other taco options include a Tempeh Taco ($3.50), a macho 3-Pork Taco ($3), a Breakfast Taco ($3) and on my “to try” list, the BLTaco ($2.50).

The Fish n’Chips ($5.50) didn’t fare as well. The fish was overly battered and was also a little undercooked — OK, raw — in some places and the cornmeal batter was on the heavy side. I was expecting a lighter style, but we did find the white fish fresh and hot.

We debated about the fries. I kind of like the older style fries that aren’t fried to a crisp, where they can stand up straight on their own. These were real potatoes, a little on the soft side and finished off with a dash of sea salt. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Another interesting twist on an old standard was the Irish Pocket ($5). I’m not sure what I expected, but what we got was a corned beef and cabbage empanada. The empanada was deep fried as usual, but wasn’t greasy or heavy at all.

There was a perfect amount of lean corned beef inside, and while it says “cabbage,” we thought the slaw was more of the sauerkraut variety. All in all, this was also a winner.

The food-on-wheels trend has taken off in every urban city in America, serving hamburgers or mini-cupcakes or noodle soups to lines that can run a block long.

I, for one, am happy to see Bus’In Your Chops give this effort a go. I’ll be back again and this time, I will follow them on Twitter to make sure I catch them at the right spot!