Boston's food trucks: not ready to roll?
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 KoManna:
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.