My one piece of advice for this weekend's Tampa Food Truck Rally in Hyde Park? Go early.
Organizer (and CL Food contributor) Todd Sturtz expected a few hundred people would turn out to try tasty treats from 10 food trucks parked on the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church grounds, but the response has been far better than he imagined. Now? Could be close to a thousand hungry food fans.
So go early. At worst, you'll have an early lunch. At best, you'll slip in before the lines start stretching down Swann Avenue. You'll also have to contend with how well each truck plans its prep — too conservative and the best items could be sold out before noon. Arrive at 11 and you can start with your primary targets, let those settle for a while, then head back to the windows for a second round. And a third, or more. You know what they say: fifth time's a charm.
No matter when you go, however, you need a plan of attack. Here's our reconnaissance report on the trucks (or tents, in some cases) that will be at the Tampa Food Truck Rally. See you there. Wicked Wiches facebook.com/WickedWichesTampa
Sandwiches are the king here, with a few extras like hollowed-out rolls stuffed with juicy fixin's and smashballs (think alternative meatballs, kinda). The more unusual the better here, from egg, potatoes, bacon and cheese on a gooey glazed donut to Italian sausage sushi.
3 Ballers Travelling Bistro Search for 3 Ballers on Facebook
Ballers serves a few simple savory dishes, but sweets are their specialty, including pretty cupcakes; amazing cookies that combine flavors you've likely never experienced in disc form; and plenty of personal-sized cakes, pies and more.
Fire Monkey facebook.com/FireMonkeyFoodTruck
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, look for the bright green Fire Monkey truck with waves of orange flame along the bottom. Chef Carlos Martinez shops the markets on an almost daily basis, meaning the menu changes with both the seasons and what's available. You might find a killer take on banh mi, veggie burritos, or fish sliders, all heavy on the flavor. (Read more about Fire Monkey on p. 96.)
Artisan popsicles? Wrap your mind around flavors like strawberry basil, cucumber mint, chocolate sea salt and wasabi lime, all made with natural ingredients and served up on a stick for easy portable consumption.
This classic Ybor Cuban joint has terrific devil crab, meat pies and a Cuban sandwich coated with a signature blend of garlic and herbs that gives it a piquant power that you don't find at most press-and-serve joints.
This rolling smoothie stand sells a few sandwiches, but its real contribution to the rally comes in the form of frigid blended beverages loaded with healthy fruit and snowcones doused in neon-colored sugary syrup.
Fat Tortillas can be a tough sell when embarking on an all-day food truck eatathon, because their Tex-Mex burritos are so damn massive they could put you down for the count. Get a group and order the buenos dias, a burrito stuffed with grilled steak, eggs and whatever else you want.
The Cuppin Cake
Though Cuppin Cake's truck isn't ready yet, this soon-to-be portable cupcakery based out of Brandon will have a tent chock full of its namesake, with flavors like choco-nutter, creamsicle, cherry bomb and the classics.
This small truck packs big flavor into bowls made from mashed and deep-fried plantains, stuffed with fried-chicken or pork nuggets, or grilled steak and a slew of veggies, herbs and sauces.
This brand-new truck — just started serving at the beginning of this month — concocts interesting takes on sandwich classics. Head here to be at the forefront of Tampa's food truck scene.
Buddy Brew Coffee
Buddy Brew sources its own beans, roasts on a daily basis, and will brew it fresh on site. Drink early and often to keep up your energy levels in the face of caloric overload.Sat., September 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Hyde Park Presbyterian Church: 1309 W. Swann Ave, Tampa.
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