Six Valley Food Trucks, Rated
Not that we still don't enjoy food trucks. Their offerings at lower commitment levels than those of their dine-in brethren make them the most accessible and cheapest culinary adventures in town. But gone is the hype of the new. With more than 30 food trucks currently listed in the Phoenix Street Food Coalition directory, we can afford to be picky about our options -- and we've come to know what to expect.
The granddaddy of all local food trucks, Short Leash Hot Dogs, continues to be a crowd favorite, with fans regularly lining up for a taste of Brad and Kat Moore's naan-wrapped dogs ($6) topped with ingredients like mango chutney, fried pickles -- even peanut butter and Cracker Jacks. And since Short Leash's launch in 2010, other mobile kitchens have tried to emulate the truck's concept of gourmet street food served fast and offered at a fair price -- some successfully and others not so much.
Here's a sampling of six of them, listed in order of my favorite to my least favorite.
The Skinny: Chef Darryl King, owner of Riteway Catering in Phoenix, uses the trailer he originally built for participating in barbecue contests to serve non-traditional po' boys and a few specials.
Tastes: King's deftness with barbecue makes for a decent sandwich called The Blazing Pig ($8), featuring tender pulled pork, half a hot link sausage with a good skin snap, and slaw stuffed into a soft but sturdy roll slathered with a sauce that doesn't hold back on the heat. The jerk pork bowl special ($8), with chopped jerk pork, coconut rice, and candied jalapeños, may be less jerk- and more barbecue-flavored than you'd expect but still makes for a satisfying and spicy bite. All meals are served with a choice of crispy and garlicky tater tots or green chile mac and cheese, addictively fruity sweet-and-sour slices of dill pickles soaked in Kool-Aid (called Koolickles), and King's version of an after-dinner mint: a Dum Dum sucker.
The Verdict: With his solid, served-fast eats priced to please, King makes sure no one goes back to work unhappy -- or hungry.