Street Eats Food Truck Festival, Day One: Shorter Lines, Better Organized Than Last Year, and We Share Our Favorite (and Not So Favorite) Tastes
First, we have Ando Muneno's take on the day and the dining experience:
I arrived just after they started letting people in at 11 am; crowds were light but all of the trucks were open and ready to serve, which is always a good sign.
My first stop was Island Noodles, a truck that hails from Montana but makes the trek down here to Arizona for Spring Training season. Island Noodles didn't pull any surprises in their wok fried soba but they pumped out a plate of noodles that's everything it should be: Hot, fast, full of crunchy vegetables and not drowning in overly salty sauce. If you're looking for something filling and delicious to round out your festival eats, this is a good bet.
A whole mess of Island Noodles soba ready to get fried up.
Next up, Phoenix newcomer Hao Bao . I've previously tried Hao Bao's dumplings and beef noodle soup so I gave those a pass in favor of Street Eats Beef Strips, pieces of shaved tenderloin marinated and then grilled. Think beef satay but without the bamboo skewer. It was tasty but I'd definitely spring for their signature dumplings, given a choice. Alas, there was no choice. I asked Hao Bao's owner, Jake Lau, why there was no bao on the Bao Bus and he explained that their bao isn't ready for prime time yet because they're still "Trying to get their menu established." I say that's a little like a truck called "Hank's Burgers" not having burgers but I'll let it slide for now. Another truck worth piling onto your plate.
Beef strips from Hao Bao.
Both Lauren and I found ourselves unable to avoid Old Dixie's magnetic pull. Their biscuits and gravy are phenomenal, which is a strange thing to say about something as humble as biscuits and gravy. The key seems to be that the gravy isn't overly thick or floury. It's a smooth, inviting sauce that does an excellent job conveying the comforting flavors of sausage and the satisfying heft of the biscuits. I was supposed to take a photo of the biscuits and gravy but apparently licking a little bit of the gravy off the wrapper was sufficient to make me forget what I was doing.
Q-up Barbeque has been serving up awesome smoked meats from the back of a truck for a while now. Their BBQ nachos combine real deep-fried tortilla chips (no bargain bin chips here) with spicy nacho sauce and a healthy dollop of signature pulled pork. It's not shocking that these pulled pork nachos are good, but it's shocking that more places don't sell them. Another safe bet that will scratch your BBQ itch for just two tickets.
Q-Up BBQ nachos with pulled pork.
My final stop, and the one letdown of the day, was a food truck called Angie's America's Foodie. This truck promised to serve up sausages stuffed with the finest in Americana, typically lesser used game meats like elk, snake and rabbit. The Alaskan Reindeer caught my eye and I stepped up to the truck to order. All told it took 10 minutes of standing around with the order slip in my hand before someone came out to claim it and take my tickets. It then took another 20 minutes for my food to actually arrive: half of a reindeer sausage on a limp poppy seed bun covered in chili and sauerkraut. That 30 minute wait constituted over 1/3 of my time spent at this festival and the food? Well sometimes pictures speak more loudly than words. It didn't get any prettier once I unwrapped it. While it wasn't bad, I still can't tell you what reindeer tastes like. And given that it's really just a hot dog on a sad bun, I can't say that I felt my $4 worth of tickets was well spent here.
Angie's America's Foodie reindeer sausage pre-unwrapping.
924 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ