From Food Trucks to Food Halls: The Future of the Food Truck Scene in Phoenix

Food Trucks
Ando Muneno
What's next for food trucks in Phoenix?
It's been years since food trucks exploded onto the mainstream dining scene. Three years ago they were all the rage, spawning television shows, cook books, and festivals all over the country. In 2011 the Phoenix Street Food Coalition counted less than ten members; today there are more than 60 trucks in the group. And new trucks are applying every week.

But is this trend doomed? Can it really last in a city where summers mean 104 degree heat outside and temperatures as high as 150 inside a food truck? I set out to get some answers and an idea of what the future of street food might look like in the Valley.

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Catch the Maine Lobster Lady Today -- Or Wait Until Next Year

Evie Carpenter
The lobster roll from the Maine Lobster Lady
We love all our local food trucks, but when it comes to fresh seafood options of the mobile variety, there's really nothing better than the Maine Lobster Lady. The only problem? She skips town when things get hot (smart woman) and therefore cuts off our supply of super-fresh lobster rolls all summer.

So if you want to get one last bite of salty, sweet lobster before this truck hits the road, you'll need to act fast. The Maine Lobster Lady will be making just two more stops before closing up shop for the season.

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Aioli Gourmet Burgers: Tom D'Ambrosio Brings Fancy Burgers to the Phoenix Streets

Lauren Saria
The Italiano Burger from Aioli Burger
Like burgers? So do we -- particularly when they feature ingredients like white truffle aioli, homemade falafel, and applewood bacon onion jam.

And the best part is that you don't have to head to a sit-down restaurant to get these kinds of gourmet burgers anymore. A new food truck, Aioli Gourmet Burgers and Catering is bringing them to you via food truck. The truck, started by three friends, centers on the work of chef Tom D'Ambrosio, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

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New Food Truck Alert: Comfort Cravings Hits Phoenix

Comfort Cravings Facebook
Comfort Cravings serves great Phoenix and surrounding areas in their refurbished 1966 van.

A new food truck is here to comfort the masses of Phoenix -- with comfort food.

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PHOTOS: Street Eats Food Truck Festival 2014 at Salt River Fields

Evie Carpenter
The tower of loaded chips from Tom's BBQ Pig Rig.
The Street Eats Food Truck Festival, held annually at Salt River Fields, has become a proving ground of sorts for Valley food trucks. The longer your line, the better you're doing tapping in to the local scene. The shorter your line, well . . .

On Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26, an estimated 25,000 people showed up to taste the food from more than 50 food trucks. Chow Bella was there to get a taste of this year's hottest trucks, including the Maine Lobster Lady.

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Street Eats Food Truck Festival at Salt River Fields on January 25 and 26; Here's the Lineup of Trucks

Diana Lustig
The long ribs plate from Montana Bar-B-Q Co. at last year's event.
By now you food truck fans should be gearing up for what's become the biggest food truck festival to hit the Valley each year. The Street Eats Food Truck Festival, presented by New Times, will bring more than 50 trucks from around Arizona and the country to Salt River Fields on Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26. Attendees will also be able to catch live music, eating contests, and cooking demonstrations.

So you want to know what trucks will be strutting their stuff? Read on.

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New Food Truck Brings Belgium Liege Waffles to the Valley

Waffle Crush
Belgium Liege waffle, Nutella, bananas, homemade cream.
When it comes to Belgium's culinary gift bag of treats, Liege waffles may be one of its hardest to find.

Impossibly indulgent, the buttery-sweet oblong waffles are crisp on the outside, soft and chewy within, and feature a luscious, glistening coat of caramelized sugar that can be topped with things like fresh fruit, Nutella, and ice cream.

Childhood friends (and with a family of four kids each) Erica Brenay and Rachel Durling love Liege waffles. And when they couldn't find any in the Valley, the two decided to make the Belgium treats themselves by way of their food truck, Waffle Crush.

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Hao Bao Food Truck Rides Again

Hao Bao food truck owner Jake Lau is back. And this time, he's got a clear path to re-launch what he's calling "Hao Bao 1.1."

In March, the 30-year-old ex-corporate financier was "circumstantially forced to exit" Phoenix to attend to family matters in his home state of Virginia, leaving his mobile kitchen of Chinese soul food to sit in storage -- something it hadn't done since the business was launched in November 2012. This week, Lau came back to the city to stay and says he'll be rolling out a new and improved Hao Bao in the upcoming weeks.

"There was such a show of support from our followers and other small-business owners when I left," Lau tells me. "I feel like I'm coming back to a warm welcome."

What can food truck fans expect to find at Hao Bao 1.1? Think healthy.

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Eat St. Is Filming Food Trucks in Phoenix

Cooking Channel
Eat Street host James Cunningham
Another television crew is coming to Phoenix and surprisingly, they're not headed for Amy's Baking Company this time.

The Cooking Channel show Eat St., "a lip-smacking celebration of North America's tastiest, messiest, and most irresistible street food," has a few Valley food trucks on their radar for the show's fifth season (Hey Joe! Filipino Street Food, Short Leash Hot Dogs, and BuzznBeez Good Food have been featured previously).

Filming starts tomorrow and lasts until Friday, November 22. Here's what trucks they'll be shooting and the schedule.

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Roosevelt Row's Taste of the Trucks Food Truck Festival: Lots of New Eats, Shorter Lines

Evie Carpenter
Goodness Gracious Great Balls and Sliders' kimchee ball was one of the best things we ate all day.
Dozens of the Valley's food trucks hit Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon for the Taste of the Trucks food truck festival.

We headed out on Sunday to sample just what the fest had to offer -- and we're happy to say many of the complaints we shared after the last RoRo food truck event in 2011 ceased to be an issue this time around.

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