Food trucks show no signs of slowing down
Dinner or a snack is likely rolling up to a location near you as the mobile-food vendors phenomenon keeps on trucking across the country.
Food trucks and mobile kitchens are not new, but with the Food Network‘s the “Great Food Truck Race” and the Cooking Channel‘s “Eat Street,” suddenly the chuck wagon has traded its dusty demeanor for a hipster happening.
Here in Central Florida, our modern food trucks can trace their roots to construction-site mobile canteens, chow wagons following agricultural harvests and cattle drives, independent barbecue trailers and ethnic-food vendors.
In 2009, Central Florida’s diversity was reflected in the assortment of food vendors offering authentic South and Central American fare along South Orange Blossom Trail.
This year, the stage was set for a culinary convergence as gourmet and restaurant trucks came into their own with eclectic menus, eye-catching trucks and savvy sales techniques.
Mark Baratelli, creator and producer of Orlando Food Truck Bazaar and Thedailycity.com, has been a key player in organizing food truck pods, rallies and bazaars.
“These events emphasize community,” he says. “The circle of vendors becomes a front porch of sorts for neighbors and friends to meet. Walk through any of these events and you find participants plopped down in folding chairs to relax and children laughing and playing nearby. What a great use of city parks and land that might otherwise not be used on that day.”
The best way to keep up with food trucks is to follow their Facebook pages and Twitter, says Joey Conicella, co-owner of the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck. “Schedules are constantly influx. These aren’t fixed locations like restaurants.”
National Restaurant Association research shows that in just one year, the number of consumers who say they would be likely to visit a food truck has increased significantly.
And the vendors run the gamut from trend-riding entrepreneurs to established caterers and restaurateurs.
“Food trucks present opportunities for restaurants to expand their operations and presence,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the association’s Research and Knowledge Group. “Mobile food service can be a good way to extend an existing restaurant brand beyond the four walls of the establishment.”
One of the newest trucks is Alex Flores’ Twisted Cuban. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University in North Miami, Flores offers a menu ranging from the traditional (Cuban sandwiches, fritas and flan) to his own twist on classics such as arroz con pollo.
“The truck has given me a new way to bring the Cuban food experience to customers,” says Flores, who also operates the Half Full Coffee House, a café in DeLand. “My goal is to make believers out of skeptics who think Cuban food is only about black beans and rice.”
Flores has joined a convoy more than 50 Central Florida food trucks. Today, we’re offering a sampling of these creative meals on wheels. Most can be followed via social media but others are catch as catch can.
Allan’s Jerk Shack: Authentic Jamaican food; Friday nights at the corner of Orange Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Orlando; 407-668-9225 and Facebook
Arepas El Cacao: Menu star is the namesake arepa popular in Colombia, Venezuela and other Spanish-speaking countries; 5545 International Drive, Orlando; 321-202-4983; Facebook and @Arepaselcacao on Twitter
The Batter Bowl: Dessert on wheels and catering; 407-601-4248; thebatterbowltruck.com, Facebook and @batterbowltruck on Twitter
BigBrunos Bites: Hot dogs, including bacon-wrapped hot dogs, vegan brats, cheese steaks are standards but you may find scotch eggs, banh mi, duck fat fries and fried Oreos; Facebook
Big Wheel Provisions: Chef Tony Adams celebrates local, organic food in a big way; Facebook, bigwheeltruckmenu.com and @bigwheeltruck on Twitter
Casa De Chef: Cuban sandwiches, burgers, rice bowls and more; Facebook
C&S Brisket Bus: Mobile gourmet delicatessen with generous portions of cured, smoked, baked and braised foods; Facebook, brisketbus.com and @CSBrisketBus on Twitter
Chimi King: Dominican Chimichurri burgers; Chimichurris ChimiKing on Facebook
CK Jerk Shack Island BBQ: Jerk meats, coconut rice and beans, Jamaican callaloo greens and more; 407-301-1363, Facebook, ckjerkshack.com and @CKJerkShack on Twitter
Country Chuck Wagon: Pot roast, hot dogs, chicken or beef quesadillas and more; Facebook
Curbie’s Sidewalk Café: Gourmet hot dogs, specialty sandwiches; Facebook and curbiessidewalkcafe.com
El Cubanito: Cuban sandwiches, milkshakes and more served Monday-Saturday, 2237 N. Forsyth Road, Orlando; 305-305-7438
El Nuevo Tun Tun: Puerto Rican tripleta sandwiches and more; Facebook
El Sabor De La Vida Tacos: Authentic tacos and enchiladas; 13602 W. Colonial Drive (across from Kmart); 407-242-7143
Firehouse BBQ: DeLand truck began as a competition barbecue team; Facebook and @TheFireHouseBBQ on Twitter
Fish Out of Water Sushi Truck: Local restaurant veterans prepare fresh sushi; Facebook and @FishOutOfWater8 on Twitter
Fro2Go: Frozen yogurt with toppings, vegan sorbets, cookies; Facebook, fro2gotruck.com website under construction and @fro2gotruck on Twitter
Gastro-Truck: Chefs Catarina Triacca and Lori Bragg sell gourmet grilled cheese; Facebook, gastro-truck.com and @GastroTrina on Twitter
Gator Country BBQ: Florida-style barbecue for catering and food-truck events; 407-230-0621, Facebook and tnsculinary.com
Juanchos Grill: Colombian hamburgers, hot dogs and more; look for the fire-engine red truck on East Colonial Drive just west of Alafaya Trail; Facebook
Kalbi hau5: Asian barbecue with a gourmet twist; Facebook, kalbihau5.com and @kalbihau5 on Twitter
Korean BBQ Taco Box: Four trucks with different locations in Central Florida specializing in Korean fare with a Mexican twist; Facebook, kbbqbox.com and @koreanbbq_2011 on Twitter
Kuko Christian Food Truck: fresh barbecue pork kebabs, burgers and more: 7958 E. Colonial Drive in Orlando; 407-968-3244
Le Empanada: Specialty empanadas, seasonal soups and salads; 325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; Facebook, laempanadatruck.com under construction and @laempanadatruck on Twitter
Mama’s Fixin’s: Soul food and barbecue; 407-451-2569 and Facebook
Melissa’s Chicken and Waffles: Specialty waffle sandwiches; Facebook
Mil’s Latin American Café: Burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, onion rings and a variety of Latin foods; Friday and Saturday evenings in the Oakridge Road and south Rio Grande Avenue area and other places; Facebook
Monsta Lobsta: Lobster rolls and salad and more; Facebook, monstalobsta.net and @monstalonsta on Twitter
One Love Kitchen: Caribbean and Jamaican jerk fare; often found in the Pine Hills area near 5001 W. Colonial Drive in Orlando
Pinones En Orlando: Stuffed mofongos and more at on the corner of Curry Ford and Conway roads; Facebook
Pupusas: Salvadoran stuffed tortillas at 12962 W. Colonial Drive in Winter Garden; @pupusasorlando on Twitter
Red Eye BBQ: All meats are seasoned and slow-cooked over an assortment of aromatic woods; Facebook, redeyebbq.com and @Redeyebbq on Twitter
Sunset Ice: Specialty Italian ice truck based in Merritt Island; Facebook
SwedeDISH Food Truck: Authentic Swedish cuisine on the go; Facebook, swededishfoodtruck.com and @SwedeDishTruck on Twitter
Tastebuds Catering: Every Saturday at the Winter Park Farmers Market; tastebuds-catering.com and Facebook
The Crepe Co.: Fresh-made sweet and savory crepes; 407-792-3566, Facebook, thecrepecompany.com and @TheCrepeCompany on Twitter
The Crooked Spoon: Traditional quick serve with a gourmet twist; Facebook and @TheCrookedSpn on Twitter
The Taco Co.: aka The Taco Lady, serving up authentic Mexican food at west Colonial Drive and Marshall Farms Road in Ocoee; 407-506-6570 and Facebook
Travelling Gourmet: Mobile commercial kitchen operated by Chef Silvia, an honors graduate from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College; 321-262-6628, Facebook and travellinggourmetinc.com
Treehouse Truck: Gourmet sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and more; Facebook and @treehousetruck on Twitter
Twisted Cuban: Alex Flores’ fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisine; Twisted Cuban on Facebook, @TwistedCubanmft on Twitter
Uncle Jones’ BBQ: Located on the former site of the legendary restaurant of the same name, 1370 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs; Facebook
Vegan Hot Dog Cart: Features American standards such as hot dogs and burgers at 59 N. Orange Ave in downtown Orlando; @vegandog on Twitter
We All Scream Vegan Ice Cream Cart: Dairy-free frozen desserts; Facebook and @_WeAllScream_ on Twitter
Winter Park Fish Co.: Popular restaurant takes to the streets in its mobile kitchen; Facebook, thewinterparkfishco.com and @WinterPrkFishCo on Twitter
Yum Yum Cupcake: Creative little cakes with a gourmet twist; Facebook, theyumyumcupcaketruck.com and @yumyumtruck_fl on Twitter