First-Ever Food Truck Festival "The Least Lame Event I've Been to in Phoenix," Chow Bella Contributor Reports

Categories: Events
food truck beer.jpg
Tedd Roundy
These double-fisted Food Truck Festival attendees have the right idea.

​Our Chow Bella correspondents were out in full-force for the first-ever Food Truck Festival, held on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix this Saturday.

Both Ando Muneno and Dominique Chatterjee (who took the early and late shifts, respectively) were impressed with the event (which sold out about two hours in, we're told) but a tad frustrated with extra-long lines, a bit of a lack of organization up front and a brief power outage. Still, as Muneno puts it, "It's probably the least lame event I've been to in Phoenix."

Both left full and happy.

Find out what they loved and what they'll skip next year -- after the jump. 

food truck festival 2.jpg
Dayvid LeMmon
Now THAT'S a crowd.
Muneno's favorite was T-Licious Tacos, which served spicy shrimp tacos and "some damn tasty fancy nachos." He's also a Short Leash fan. So is Chatterjee, who was at the event for more than three hours and still left without trying everything.

Her top picks, along with Short Leash:

Tom's Pig Rig: They had some awesome bbq pulled pork that was served on top of cole slaw. I don't even like cole slaw, but this stuff was great. The best part was that for some reason they had a short line, so in just 15 minutes, we got two servings.

Gourmet Fry Bread: This was another huge line that was almost impossible to find the end of, but they gave a full-size fry bread with honey and powdered sugar. So filling!

Sweet Republic: No surprise that these guys [er, gals] are at the top. They were serving pumpkin spice ice cream, a beer/sweet cream ice cream, and a basil lime sorbet. All three were great, and as much as I dislike beer for the bitter hops flavor, the sweet cream tamed the flavor and made the beer ice cream amazingly delicious.

Chatterjee also weighed in on her less-favorite items, which she said was a tough call since it was all pretty good.

Torched Goodness: They served a creme brulee with amazing custard, but there was too much salt on top. I think they aren't used to preparing such tiny sizes (they were 1" in diameter).

Duck Duck Pig: This was the first place we hit, so as starving as I was, it should have tasted like one of the best. They served pulled pork on top of a yellow corn chip, and it had some kind of black bean paste on it. It was kind of flavorless and definitely didn't have enough pulled pork. My impression is that they were trying to go too fancy gourmet.

In conclusion, Chatterjee reports: They needed some kind of sign to mark the back of lines. Lots of them curved and snaked around, going on forever and ever. Sometimes we'd think we got to the end, and then someone would kindly point out that we weren't to the back of the line yet and point way off in the distance. Regardless of that, it was definitely an event worth going to, and I'm sure next year's will be even better.

Check out all the food truck action in our Food Truck Festival slideshow ... 

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14 comments
Camm400xp
Camm400xp

For the first time ever, I want my money back. Way over sold, the lines around noon were far longer than 20 minutes, never got to sample anything but popcorn, horrible planning!

DVD to MKV file
DVD to MKV file

Food festivel is one of the best festivels i think. I like food very much not just because we have to eat them but also they stands for a spirit, the spirit of live!

Pete
Pete

With as much prep work that goes into the samples I'd think a cheaper door cover + $2.00 for larger samples might be wise (or maybe tickets).  Also line organization could have been better and a larger venue would avoid the awfully close quarters for such a warm afternoon.  For year one, it wasn't bad, but I still prefer the fun of discovering a new truck or new menu in some random place in Phoenix.

FoodTruckClusterF*ck
FoodTruckClusterF*ck

Hmm. double fisting the beer…maybe THAT's what it would have taken to enjoy this event. I believe someone said "clusterfuck"? That's exactly what it was.So now that we've established there's a demand for the food truck scene…can we actually have an event where people can experience the food trucks? Next time, try time-slot ticket sales. Limit the number of tickets sold for entry at 4:00, 4:30, 5:00, etc. That should space out the people and let the food carts put out some good product and interact with their customers. The way this event was organized, I felt bad for the vendors barely keeping up by shoving samples into people's hands as they waited.And why is every Roosevelt Row event held on that same dirt lot? Ick. Tired of it. Phoenix is the land of parking lots, surely we can find a paved lot to do this on. I mean, a park would be even better, but baby steps people…baby steps.

Guest
Guest

This is the opposite of what I have heard from anyone I know who attended. It sounded like a complete clusterfuck, with super long lines, a big as dust bowl for a venue, running out of water to wash hands near the port o crappers, etc. Can't we do better Phx? Why not have this at the downtown ASU park? Or Hance Park? I am a huge fan of the food truck movement, and want everyone to succeed, but this was a fail, and needs to be done right. All my friends that attended had to go somewhere else for dinner after not getting more than a bite or two at this event. Maybe it was a ploy by Carley's to get more business. God knows that place sucks.

just asking
just asking

  Don't you mean sugar rather than "salt" with regard to the creme brulee you mentioned, Dominique? That's typically the cramelizing ingredient used to create the top crust.

Jeff Moriarty
Jeff Moriarty

Wow, you liked it a lot more than we did, and I'm a huge fan of the food truck scene.

All of my complaints were around organization - we loved the food. We had three lines to wait in to try and get a beer, but it was like a puzzle quest to sort that out. There was little to do there other than stand in line, when you could find the end, and some of the trucks were sloooowwww. We averaged 20 minutes per truck to get our nibbles. I saw a few near fights start when people tried to wedge in by a truck to skip the line and steal the morsels. One truck served twice the amount they expected to, and was out of food by 7:30! Nearby Carly's got business from several people I know who gave up and went for a normal meal.

Yet every truck had great food when we finally reached them, and all were working as fast as they could. Some were just overwhelmed. I hope it ended up being a good night for them, and raised awareness of some of the excellent mobile food popping up around town. I also hope it was a good learning experience for the organizers and they raise their game for next year.

Fests rule
Fests rule

just a comment on the "dust bowl" aspect of this event as well as the recent taco fest.  Events held at city park locations or anywhere that typically keeps their lots "grassed up" are going to be a crap shoot anywhere from early October thru mid November as winter seeding season varies each year.  If you are holding an event during this time you may not be allowed to inhabit grassy areas that may have just been seeded (especially when utilizing city park venues - even if you have reserved them ahead of time - seeding season takes precedence over rentals and your entire site plan may need to be amended), or, as in the case of taco fest, you may very well be a victim of "scalping time" - that window of time when we all need to kill off the remaining summer grass this is still on premises prior to seeding. 

Personally, I am giving kudos to the organizers for giving it a shot.  It is a shame that Phoenix doesn't have more outdoor food events with the amount of gorgeous weather we have here.  And trust me, as a special events coordinator - there is never, nor will there ever be a perfect one - too many variables, too many people to answer to, and too many conflicting requirements from jurisdictional agencies to juggle. Special Events are always a learning experience, the best that you can hope for is that the "front of the house" doesn't see the problems - that they are all "back of house" issues.   In reality the event coordinators' expectations, goals and level of self criticism should be leaps and bounds above what the normal paying customer is expecting... 

Keep the food events coming Coordinators - they are fun and help to breathe some sense of community into what I have found to be a very large, impersonal city during my 10 years here.... not to mention they are the very best way for our beloved restaurants to market themselves - restaurants are the backbone of a community, they breathe a lot of life into the local economy.

Dominique Chatterjee
Dominique Chatterjee

Thanks for asking for clarification. Visitors could clearly see the Torched Goodness server topping the creme brulee with both salt and sugar. A small amount of salt would enhance the flavor, but there was simply too much for the sample-sized serving.

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