Street Eats Food Truck Festival, Day One: Shorter Lines, Better Organized Than Last Year, and We Share Our Favorite (and Not So Favorite) Tastes

Food truck festival 2013.jpg
Photos by Lauren Saria and Ando Muneno
Clockwise from left: Red beans and rice from Old Dixie's, Tom's Pig Rig, Hale Lake from Island Noodles and BBQ Nachos from Q-Up Barbeque.
Last year's first-ever Street Eats festival did not exactly endear itself to many of our readers -- and we weren't so happy either, for that matter. Among the problems: long lines, terrible traffic, confusion about payment methods and trucks running out of food. To be fair, this is a challenge that's faced more than one food truck festival -- but still, we wondered how (if at all) things could change this year, for the second annual event sponsored by Chow Bella's parent, Phoenix New Times.

Well, color us impressed. We left the first day of the festival (you can still catch day two tomorrow) full and happy. (Editor's Note: For purposes of comparison, we sent the same two writers who covered the event last year.)

See also:
-Street Eats Food Truck Festival at Salt River Fields 2013: Day One (Slideshow)
-Street Eats Food Truck Festival Offers Tasty Food, Long Lines, and a Few Lessons for Next Time
-L.A.'s Grilled Cheese Truck Makes Phoenix Debut This Weekend
-Chow Bella's One-Stop Guide to Metro Phoenix Food Trucks: When and Where to Find Them

Parking: The parking wasn't a soul-crushing pre-event this go around. There are more signs, and about twice as many parking attendants waving you into place. Parking isn't exactly free but since it's factored into your $10 general admission ticket it's a relatively painless process.

Paying: It looked like everyone stuck to the plan this year and did tickets instead of the mix of tickets, cash, credit and favors that seemed to dominate last year's experience. There were two ticket stations at either end of the festival and it was a pretty straightforward process to exchange cash for tickets in increments of $2. Once inside you could actually take your tickets and exchange those for food that was priced with $2 tickets in mind. One note though, it was a strictly cash for tickets situation so swing by the bank or be ready to fork over a $3.50 service fee at the many banks of ATMs.

Food Trucks Served More Managable Portions: Last year we complained that the point of a food truck festival, like pretty much any food festival, is to economically sample as many types of food as your heart desires. Last year it seemed like most trucks were simply serving what they always serve just with 2 hour lines out in front. This year virtually every truck we saw offered just a handful of items to represent their truck. As a result placing orders was a breeze so lines moved quickly and it seemed like the food was coming out faster as well. Simple is a good thing sometimes.

The Lines: We suspect that the cold weather and playoff games might have kept some people at home but there were still large crowds of people at Street Eats. The difference this year was that people were standing around eating instead of suffering (and starving) in massive lines. There were a few exceptions, of course, but overall neither of us waited in a line for more than 5 minutes to place our orders. Yes, dear veterans from last year's Street Eats, we were shocked, too.

Cost: Expect to spend about $30 ($10 for admission, $20 for tickets) to consume a satisfying array and amount of food. Most places offered $4 dishes so plan your ticket purchasing accordingly.

Of course the real question is: What was the food like?

Location Info

Map

Old Dixie's Southern Kitchen

924 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Mama Toledo's Pies

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Tom's Chicago-Style B-B-Q

5005 E. McKellips Road, Mesa, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Hao Bao

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Island Noodles

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Angie's America's Foodie

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Rockin' Ray's Highway Diner

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Totally Baked

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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7 comments
servingsarcasm
servingsarcasm

I agree the price was a little steep. I loved seeing Chef  Zakarian talk it was the whole reason I wanted to go. 

As far as the food, Rockin Rays crab roll was awesome, I wish they were closer so I could eat there more. I also enjoyed Emerson Fry Breads. 

I tried the Q-up BBQ pork Nachos and was not happy with them. They were very salty and the sauce is just alright. The chips are fantastic though as is the pico. I actually would think they would be much better without the fake cheese, maybe sprinkle some cheddar or a splash of queso blanco.

rickyleepotts
rickyleepotts

I wanted to go, but $10 to get in seemed high. My buddy went and was told, when he arrived, that he should also expect to spend $20 per person on food and drinks. He called me and I decided to stay home. If they are going to charge $10 to get in, they need to give you some tickets with that. Or figure a way to combine the two next year. I have no problem paying a cover, but not when the food is going to be that expensive.

Kelly Marie Aiello
Kelly Marie Aiello

I agree with the Chelsea. The wait was way too long for it and then it wasn't anything special. Just lobster and cheese thrown together...so much more could have been done with spices or sauces to make it something worth waiting for. Overall the food truck festival was a lot of fun though! Old Dixie's was amazing and so was almost everything else.

chriscardinal
chriscardinal

Q-Up is regularly phenomenal, and not just "for food trucks." I've been lucky enough to have them swinging by near the office for ASU's Wednesday food truck day and they're just fantastic. Great meats, tender, delicious, and a perfect sauce. Their fries and nachos are insanely good, too. 

Mama Toledo's pie that we tried was only alright. It felt like the crust lacked salt, so it was just too bland. Not sure if we got a rough batch, but haven't worked up the courage to try again.

Ando Muneno
Ando Muneno

That's a little depressing, lobster grilled cheese sounded bulletproof. How'd it let you down?

Chelsea Russ
Chelsea Russ

The Devilicious lobster grilled cheese was a huge disappointment and was honestly one of my least favorite eats of the day. Maybe the wait time had a little bit to do with that too.

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