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