Sunday, August 08, 2010

Boston's food trucks: not ready to roll?

I don't want to be one of those people who insists everything is better in California. In-N-Out is not as good as UBurger (there, I said it!) and Boston can certainly hold its own when it comes to cocktails (see Eastern Standard, Drink, Craigie, Green Street).

However, there is one area where Los Angeles trumps Boston: food trucks.

There aren't many food trucks in Boston yet. Okay, apart from around MIT, where students have been eating falafel, pizza and Thai chicken (and Frito pie) from mobile kitchens for years.

From the recent crop of upstarts,
Clover is leading the field, but their trucks tend to stay in one place; FillBelly's wanders around but their Twitter feed isn't updated enough to be helpful. There are others, but they're similarly scattered across the city.

Today was Boston's first Food Truck Festival, held at the South End's SoWa Sunday market. It seemed like a great idea to bring all the food trucks of Boston to one place.

The Boy and I arrived about an hour after the festival opened, and wandered over to the first truck, which wasn't selling anything;
Nantucket Wild Gourmet was using it to hand out samples of a velvety curried carrot soup and a vibrant salmon pate.

There were tented stalls selling everything from tea to peanuts to granola to cookies for dogs; there was lemonade, avocado tea bread, and gluten-free vegan lunches.

But I hadn't come for stalls. I wanted trucks. Problem was, there were only six actual trucks. I'm not counting the Taza Chococycle or the "Equal Exchange coffee trike."

As a result, the hundreds of people who, like us, had turned up to get food from a veee-hicle had only a few choices: ribs from M&M, chicken and waffles from FillBelly's, or a (some would say
the) hot dog from Speed's.

The latter is a Roxbury legend. The line for a fabulous dog was 50+ people long.

We decided to brave the line for FillBelly's.

After a half-hour, we hadn't progressed an inch (apart from when people ahead of us gave up and left the line).

So we cut our losses and headed to Gaslight. And over Matin Martinis (made with marmalade), we remembered our Los Angeles food truck experiences, which included:

Garam masala chicken meatballs with coconut curry sauce and saffron rice from
Great Balls on Tires:

Korean beef taco from

And a spicy Jamacian beef patty in light, flaky pastry from Granny's Hot Peppa Steppa.

So how can Boston be more like LA? Do City regulations make it hard for trucks to roll? Is the audience for mobile kitchens here limited to students? Will trucks (or diners) be less likely to venture out in the depths of winter?

Or do we just have to give the concept a little more time, and allow an idea that's fully formed in other parts of the country to develop at a gentle New England pace?

I hope that's what it is, and that Boston's second annual Food Truck Festival will be a bigger success.

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Anonymous Chris said...

IF you get a chance you should go to both Speeds and M&M ribs on a regular day. Both have a regular spot and most of the time have no line and no waiting.

7:21 PM  
Blogger christine said...

hi there - i'm so glad you made it out to the food truck fest today! i'm one of the co-producers, and i agree that boston's food truck scene has huge (and exciting) potential. i would argue that's it's not so much the lack of ingenuity or creativity in terms of boston's food entrepreneurs that makes it seem a step behind some other cities, but the licensing and inspection rigmarole that can put the damper on any business. but mayor menino and city councilor mike ross were present today, and that's a good sign that hopefully we'll see more breadth and depth of trucks in the city to come! feel free to send me feedback and suggestions, that we can incorporate it into a bigger, better, awesomer food truck fest sequel. cheers, christine //

8:43 PM  
Blogger LimeyG said...

Christine, thanks so much for commenting! I did see Menino there, and thought it a promising sign.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree. The lines were too long, the weather was too hot, but I think next year will hold bigger and better things for Boston's Food Truck Festival.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous baby cribs said...

I was in that event and I can say that it is true. They are not so prepared for everything. All line is too long.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Mufi said...

I agree with the lack of food trucks in Boston. I am thinking of starting an Indian Food Truck in the Boston Area. So far I am doing the ground work on the idea, but any input will be helpful. I want to know if you guys want to see an Indian Food truck that offers all kinds of ethnic goodies on the streets of Boston? Hopefully, I'll have more to update you with in the near future.

9:34 PM  

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