Got Pupusa?

It was Thursday and time for the second of the Patio Sessions down at Sammons Park in front of the Winspear Opera House. Last week I took a lot of photographs (here, here, and here) and didn’t feel like doing that again. Viewing life through a viewfinder is not the best way to see things.

I did take my camera, just in case, but I loaded my Kindle, Moleskine, and selected a vacuum filler Parker “51” with a fine nib and Parker Quink black ink (my best note-taking combination – the “51” has an amazingly smooth fine nib, perfect for the Moleskine) and decided ahead of time I’d get something to eat from a food truck, commandeer a table, and relax – read and write a little.

I left work and caught the DART train downtown from the station near my office. The weather was cloudy and windy, but overall not too bad for Texas. I was happy when I saw they had a food truck that, not only had I never eaten at before – but it was also one I had wanted to check out. I was glad I at least brought my camera… have to get photos of food trucks.

It was Dos Paisano’s - a fairly new truck that promised Salvadorian fare. I’m a big fan because it is food that is similar to what I ate in High School in Nicaragua (I love banana-wrapped tamals)… plus pupusas.

Jacob Metcalf opened with a mellow acoustic set. The sound system is such that the music can be heard clearly from anywhere under the massive Winspear sunscreen so I went ahead and bought a pupusa plate and a bottle of water and settled down on a table, listening to the music and reading, just as I had planned. The food was very good. Now I need to track that truck down and try their plantains, yucca, and tamals.

The second musical act was The O’s – a neo-country duo singing upbeat folksy music using a banjo, a slide guitar, a foot pounded bass drum, and a bit of a goofy-corny sense of humor. I enjoyed them a lot though they had to deal with the pealing church bells, just like last week.

The crowd was quite a bit bigger than last week and the concert was sort of impaired by a large group of little kids that kept running around the reflecting pool, yelling and splashing. I know I shouldn’t complain – my kids were as big a pain as anyone’s – but I know how it works. To a parent there is nothing as attractive as their own children and nothing as amusing as their antics. You could see the proud mothers and fathers smiling broadly at the edges of the reflecting pool, out for an evening with their blankets, plastic wine glasses, and massive strollers. What is tough to do is to constantly remind yourself that not everybody thinks the way you do – as a matter of fact, nobody else thinks your kids are cute. You’re the only ones.

The Patio Sessions are not too long, at seven thirty everything was over. I gathered up my stuff and caught the train back home.

I have been working through this huge ebook of noir short stories, The Best American Noir of the Century. I kept reading on the train, coursing through a fascinating bit of fiction by Harlan Ellison called Mefisto in Onyx. Even with Ellison’s occasional overwrought chunk of prose here and there it’s a crackerjack story and sucked me in enough to have me look up and realize I had gone a stop too far. I had to get off the train and wait for another southbound to get me back to where my car was. I don’t like waiting around on a dark train station platform that I’m not familiar with… but there was some illumination from a streetlight and at least I was able to finish the harrowing story.

And it was very good.

The Dos Paisano's Salvadorian/Mexican fusion food truck. Look for it in your neighborhood.

Got Pupusa?

Ordering food from the Dos Paisano's Truck.

My pupusa order with a lot of red and (spicy) green sauce.

Also in the photo is my Kindle and its custom made case.

The top half of the Dos Paisano's Menu.

The bottom half of the menu. I'm going to have to go back.

I like that this song mentions Tietze Park - a Dallas sort of place. My bus drove by there on the way to work for years. I would look for its signature bent over tree  (I think it’s a “kneeling” bois d’ arc )every day. It was voted the best place to break up in the city. There’s even a song about it  by the band Elkhart- video performed at the Belmont, of course.

The amazing view of Downtown Dallas from the Belmont.

Crawfish Pistolette!

After we finished up the Savor Dallas Arts District Stroll we walked outside into the setting sun and there were a dozen food trucks lined up by the Winspear Opera House. Have to get some food for the train ride home.  When selecting a food truck, I always like to try one I have never tried before.

This time was easy. There is a truck that I had read about, it seemed to have its debut at Mardi Gras this year, but I missed them at the Bishop Arts Carnival Parade. It was the Cajun Tailgator Truck – which offered New Orleans style fare, and I’m down with that.

Their menu looked great, and they recommended the Crawfish Pistolette (a PIstolette is a small, New Orleans sandwich made from a hard roll stuffed with goodies) and that was good enough for me. I ordered the Pistolette, a cup of gumbo, and a water – and still made it under my gourmet food truck theoretical limit of ten bucks.

Of course the sandwich was very good. I love crawfish, especially when I don’t have to work at it. A pistolette is a nice way to serve food from a truck – easy to carry, easy to eat, not too much.

The gumbo was especially good. I was impressed. It wasn’t seafood gumbo – but I don’t know if I’d want that from a truck. Instead it was a rich chicken and sausage blend and as good as any I’ve had outside of Louisiana.

So here’s another truck for me to follow around. I want to try the boudin balls, the red beans and rice (for me that’s the real heart of cajun cooking) and the Roast Beef Po-Boy (with debris!).

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rourler!

The Cajun Tailgators Food Truck in front of the Winspear Opera House.

Ordering from the Cajun Tailgators

Cajun Tailgators Menu

Crawfish Pistolette, Gumbo on a cool picnic table - the Arts District is working on place for Food Truck aficionados to sit while they eat.

Cajun Tailgators Website

Cajun Tailgators Facebook (seems the best way to find them)

Cajun Food Truck Brings ‘Big Easy’ To ‘Big D’

Food truck review: Cajun Tailgators

A Look at a New Food Truck: Cajun Tailgaters

Cajun Tailgaters Food Truck

Let the Good Times Roll with Cajun Tailgators!

Green House Food Truck

There were a lot of choices in food trucks down in the Dallas Arts District on Friday. Most of my Favorites Were There – but, as always, when presented with a temptation, I chose one I had never tried before.

I have seen the Green House Truck on several occasions, but, for no good reason, hadn’t tried it yet. It was one of the first trucks in Dallas, it may be the first one – a pioneer from the days that they were highly restricted.

The Green House is known for healthy food. Looking over the menu, I chose a Portobello Mushroom sandwich on Ciabatta bread with walnut/basil pesto, grilled vegetables, and a side order of sweet potato fries.

Makes you hungry just thinkin’ ’bout it, doesn’t it.

My food was really good – I regret not trying the truck before – I’ll definitely look for them again.

Green House Food Truck – Follow them on Facebook - from their home page - Schedule/Location and finally – their Twitter

Dallas Arts District Sets Stage for Food Trucks

Gourmet food truck brings healthy fare to Dallas business districts

Green House Truck Rolls Into Dallas

A lot of trucks and a lot of hungry people.

Ordering from the Green House Truck

Your order is up.

At work in the truck's kitchen. I like the sauce bottles. Sriracha rules.

Portobello on Ciabatta sandwich with sweet potato fries.

The Bomb Fried Pies

I was talking to Raffealel from Gennarino’s Food Truck Saturday about how often they set up in Dallas. He said, “We come here to Sigel’s about one a month and always set up with The Bomb Fried Pies.”

“Oh,” I said, “That sounds good – I’ll have to get some dessert once I’ve finished my calzone.”

“Do that,” Raffealel said, “She’s a great person.”

Of course, I had already noticed the pink trailer with the blue bomb hanging overhead and already had plans to grab a couple of fried pies. I had heard of The Bomb Fried Pies before but this was my first time to get a chance for a visit.

Two new food trucks at one shot – that’s a good day for me.

So I went back and chatted with Brenda Barnhart, the owner. She said she was going to set up at the Wildflower Festival in Richardson – my family loves that. She is from Mesquite, where I used to live. As a matter of fact, I’ve since found out that she is the next-door neighbor of my sister-in-law.

Her trailer is a pretty pink little thing – a rebuilt 1965 Shasta – and is covered with interesting little details. The bomb is a Navy Practice Bomb and everything is pulled by a restored 1960 classic red Ford Sunliner.

Like everyone that has a food truck business in Dallas, she bemoans the difficulty of finding good places to set up. Hopefully, with time the city and the suburbs will become more used to the idea and realize that a good selection of portable gourmet food trucks is a modern essential to an active street life.

I told her about Anthony Bourdain’s idea that food trucks are really an alternative to fast food rather than competition to quality brick and mortar restaurants.

“Yeah and McDonalds sells their fried pies for a buck and I charge three,” she said.

“But that’s a whole different kettle of fish,” I said.

And it was. I bought a cherry and an apricot pie, and they were much better than McDonalds – I assure you. The crust was thin and crispy, fresh, and the filling was sweet and fruity. The Bomb also had a Fried Guacamole and a Fried Ham and Cheese, but I wasn’t hungry enough for that.

The only downside is I tried to eat my apricot pie while driving to the Mockingbird DART station and got stuff all over everything. Those pies are really too good to waste eating while doing something else. You need to sit still and enjoy the experience.

To find where The Bomb Fried Pies is setting up next:

Go to the Facebook Page

Food truck review: The Bomb Fried Pies & Fried Guacamole

Interview: Brenda Barnhart of The Bomb Fried Pies

The Bomb Fried Pies & Guacamole Trailer Hits the Festival Circuit. Next Stop, Oak Cliff.

Fried Pies and Food Trucks: Bless Us Baby Jesus

If you look quick in this video, you can see The Bomb trailer.

Gennarino’s

I surfed through Twitter and Facebook, looking for stuff to do today, and found a Food Truck I had never tried before, Gennarino’s set up on the Siegel’s Parking lot down on Upper Greenville, just north of Lover’s.

Gennarino’s is a Friggitoria, which is Italian for a place that sells fried foods. In this case, it’s a truck that mostly sells things made out of fried pizza dough. Their menu specializes in Neapolitan street food.

It is a large and unique menu. There is a poster with photographs of:

Zeppoline Salate – Neapolitan fried dough bites

Panzarotti – Potato croquettes

Zeppolone – A panzarotto inside of a giant zeppola

Arancino Rosso – Traditional tomato risotto ball made with yummy Bolognese sauce

Arancino Giallo – Saffron risotto ball

Polentine – Fried polenta triangles

Timballo Rosso – Handheld spaghetti and meatballs

Timballo Bianco – Handheld fettuccine Alfredo

Pizza Fritta – Fried dough topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese

There was no way I was going to be able to make up my mind. There were a few folks standing around a tall table eating and I asked, “What’s good today?”

One woman (I think it was Raffealel’s wife – one of the owners) pointed out the specials, so I ordered a Calzone, something I was familiar with. I was able to chat with Raffealel for a bit about the food truck business and how they started (three brothers and Raffealel’s wife) and where he liked to set up. This truck runs out of Irving, which is why I hadn’t seen them before. He said he was doing mostly lunch business outside of office buildings in Los Colinas. He was very friendly and I really enjoyed talking to him, so when you visit his truck, be sure and say hello.

They had a couple of tall stand-up tables set up outside the truck which was nice – it’s always frustrating when you get your food and don’t have a place to eat it. My calzone was great. The fried dough was very crisp and light and not too greasy at all. It was a delicious treat, not like eating a football, which a lot of calzone’s feel like.

I wish Gennarino’s ran in Dallas more often. I’d like a chance to work my way through their extensive selection – that fried spaghetti and meatballs looks good, so does the pizza, and I’d like to bite into that Zeppolone (I always like something inside something else).

How to track them down:

Gennarino’s Facebook

Gennarino’s Twitter

Good food makes for happy customers.

Raffealel and his brother. They were great.

I have no idea what this means, but it looks cool.

My Calzone... excellent.

Raffealel out helping a customer with the menu.

Gennarino’s

Breaking Down the Menu: Dallas’ First Friggitoria

Sneak preview of Gennarino’s food truck

Interview: The Raineri family of Gennarino’s food truck

Food truck review: Gennarino’s

I can’t wait to try Gennarino’s Food Truck

Fried Pizza from a Truck

Gennarino’s is Ready to Roll like a Friggitoria

Food Truck in Richardson

I live in Richardson, Texas – a first-ring suburb of the enormous Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. For the last year or so, I have been enjoying tracking down the various Gourmet Food Trucks that wander the highways and byways. I have been finding them at various locations – mostly in the Dallas Arts District – but have yet to have one show up in my own hometown.

The one struggle for the Food Trucks all over the country is finding locations to park. The owners of brick and mortar restaurants traditionally have a lot of political clout and are always working to enact harassing regulations designed to eliminate the portable competition. I have plenty of sympathy for restaurant owners – that has to be one of the hardest ways to make a living – but I think they are mistaken. The food trucks are mostly a quality replacement for fast food plus they get people used to eating out more. I don’t think the food trucks are a serious threat to quality restaurants.

So I was excited when I left work and checked my social media and found out that the Nammi Food Truck (one of my favorites – First Visit Second Visit) was going to be setting up for dinner in Richardson. They were going to be at the RunOn! store at Campbell and Coit – not very close to my house – but I wanted to support a truck coming out to my town. The Nammi Truck serves Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches, rice bowls, and fusion tacos. I drove home, checked with Candy and decided what to get, and then drove out to RunOn!.

That store brings back a lot of memories. When Lee was younger we used to drive him out there for running lessons. I used to kid him about “lessons” – I’d say, “Left, Right, Left, Right… how hard can it be?” It worked though – the direction and practice Lee received helped him become a good and enthusiastic long-distance runner.

While he would run I would hang out at the Starbucks or wander around the shopping center. There is a lot of interesting stuff around that intersection.

Tonight there was a recreational run going on with a nice little crowd of runners outside the store, stretching, talking, hanging out, and getting ready to head out together. Saucony was there with a truck loaning out test shoes (WTF?) and promoting their products. They had an Xbox Kinect hooked up on the back of their truck and the runners would take turn playing track and field games – running in place, jumping, and throwing a virtual javelin. It looked like a lot of fun… I’m an old fart and had never seen the Xbox Kinect working before.

There was a continuous short line at the Nammi Food Truck. I waited my turn and ordered a BBQ Pork Banh Mi sandwich (these are big sandwiches and Candy and I would share it) plus a lemongrass chicken taco and a beef taco. It didn’t take long and I took the stuff home for dinner.

As always, it was good.

Nammi tacos. They taste better than they look in this picture.

Related WordPress blogs:

People’s Choice Food Truck Winner: Nammi

The Food Truck Dish: Nammi

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’–Keep those food trucks Rollin’

Eating Out :: DFW Food Trucks, Nammi

into the weekend

The How To Guide for the Texas Swanky Bride -Dallas Food Trucks – The New Wedding Trend

Easy Slider

There were four food trucks hanging out on Flora Street downtown for lunch when I stopped by as part of the Dallas Arts District Bike Crawl on Thursday. I have already tried three of the trucks (and found them good) but the fourth, Easy Slider, was new. When presented with a choice, I will choose the one I haven’t tried before.

I looked over their list of sliders and chose two – a Black n Blue – beef, blu cheese slaw, and bacon, and a Baby Bella – portobello mushroom with mozzarella, pesto, and a tomato. These came in a deal with a drink and chips for ten dollars – which came with a homemade caramel for dessert – and the candy was especially good.

The sliders were great. The beef slider actually had enough meat on it to taste like a hamburger. The grilled portobello mushroom was good too, with a round cheese and tomato stuck onto its skewer.

So here is another worthy food truck circulating the DFW metroplex. I hope to run into it again soon.

Easy Slider Facebook Page

So many choices, so little time.

The trucks lined up in the Dallas Arts District

I usually like to take pictures of my food for these reviews. Unfortunately, I was so hungry and the sliders looked so good, I lost my head and ate the beef slider and a good bit of the portobello mushroom one before I remembered to take a photo. No problem, though, this blog has a review with better pictures than I take anyway.

 

Steak Frites!

After walking around looking at the ice sculptures in the Zen garden Friday night, I decided to get something to eat. There was a lot going on – a huge crowd had gathered around the Arts District for the Tree lighting ceremony. To feed these hungry horde, a line of food trucks were ready and rarin’ to go.

Let’s see, if memory servers there was The Butcher’s Son out on Flora Street, then The Green House, SsahmBBQ, Jack’s Chowhound, and Gandolfo’s in a line next to the Opera House.

Mae West said, “When given the choice between two evils, I’ll pick the one I’ve never tried before.” I have the same philosophy on Food Trucks… I’ll pick one I’ve never tried before. Jack’s Chowhound it was.

There were lines at the trucks, and I stood there, trying to decide on an order. One problem waiting late to eat at a truck, is that they will start running out of stuff – they had all been serving since before lunch and only so much inventory will fit in a truck.

I was thinking about ordering a grilled cheese with tomato soup, but was a little bit worried about how to eat the soup, when the guy in front of me ordered “Steak Frites.” I had no idea what that was, but it sounded cool, so I said the same thing when it was my turn.

This was a mistake, because the guy in front of me stole my Steak Frites when he picked his up, and I had to wait for another order.

Steak Frites are French Fries with chunks of steak on them. Pretty good if you like that sort of thing, but I think next time I see Jack’s Chowhound I’ll go for the grilled cheese. I’m just not that big of a steak fan.

One of the sometimes difficulties with a gourmet food truck is finding a decent place to eat. Here, they had provided a small sea of stand-up tables with candles on them and I managed to snag one in the crowd.

As I was finishing, a couple walked up and the blonde woman asked if she could share a bit of my table.

“Of course,” I said, “I’m done really, anyway.”

I thought maybe they were going to eat, but she gave a murderous stink-eye glare at her man and started grabbing shit out of her purse and whacking it down onto the table with obvious aggravation. I really wanted to stick around and find out what the argument was about (I would guess they had lost something and the guy had asked one too many times, “Are you sure it isn’t in your purse?”) but since I didn’t have any food left, it was a little awkward to simply stand there and stare at this woman having a temper tantrum, so I turned and walked away.

After the Christmas festivities wound down and I was disgusted by the drunken revelers trodding all over the artwork, I hoofed it back to my train. Along a fairly dark and isolated stretch of street I walked past some guy and his wife and toddler. They looked lost, the kid was crying and the wife was yelling at her husband. I was about to offer help, but I recognized the guy as the one that had stolen my Steak Frites.

So he was on his own. I thought about saying something, but he looked miserable enough already.

Jack's Chowhound in the Dallas Arts District

Lined up to order at Jack's Chowhound

A cute couple in front of the SsahmBBQ truck

The line of trucks, the little stand-up tables, and a crowd of hungry Christmas - tree - lighting - fans

Sliders!

I wanted to do the right thing. When the alarm screamed, I tore myself out of bed and put on my bicycling clothes. I had meant to work on my bike the night before, but had run out of time, so I went out in the garage and cleaned and oiled for about an hour.

Then I set off down the trail. I had been looking at google maps and, in my mind, had a long route planned, through some newly constructed bits. A small camera was in my bag – I wanted to take some pictures here and there.

But things didn’t feel right. The saddle was uncomfortable, so I stopped and fiddled with it – to no avail. Then I turned and faced into the wind and it felt surprisingly cold, harsh, and impenetrable. Things were fading fast, so I turned and headed home. I felt defeated.

Well, it was a good thing. Over a short period of time, about an hour, the weather turned dramatically. The mercury plunged and the wind grew to a cold howl from the north. Jagged rain started spitting and the whole world became a dark grey. I was not dressed or prepared for that.

If I would have stayed on my bike I would have been trapped a few miles from home huddling in a doorway somewhere calling people on my cell – hoping to convince someone to come rescue me and give me a ride home. For once, my instincts had served me well.

I decided to celebrate by finding a new food truck.

The folks that brought us Gandolfo’s have a sister truck out, The Butcher’s Son. It is in cahoots with a sausage company and offers a selections of meaty treats. Two trucks were perched out in a busy parking lot not too far from our house.

I decided on the selection of sliders – the tiny hamburger-like sandwiches are perfect for slinging from a gourmet truck – sort of like round bread-y tacos.

Like usual, it was pretty good.

The two trucks in the chilly parking lot

The Butcher's Son gourmet food truck

Three Sliders

This is a selection of sliders called “The Butcher’s 3-Way.” Clockwise, from the bottom – The Longhorn “Braised Mexican Beef, Fresh Jalapeno, tomato, and pepper jack cheese on a mini brochette bun” -  The New Frontier “Johnsonville Andouille, Naval Pastrami, sautéed onions, Swiss cheese and spicy mustard on a mini brochette bun” – and The Southern Belle “Johnsonville Chipotle Monterey Jack Cheese Chicken Sausage, fresh onion, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce on a mini brochette bun.”

3 Men and a Taco!

Again, today, I consulted my twitter feed to see where the various gourmet food trucks were distributed around the city. A truck I had never tried before, 3 Men and a Taco, was set up on Davis Street in Oak Cliff. I have wanted to visit the Bishop Arts District, only a few blocks down from there, so I decided to make the drive clear across town.

Cutting across north of downtown I drove through the tunnel that the Woodall Rodgers Freeway has become. They have decked over the road for the new five acre park that is going in overhead. I was working downtown when the freeway was dug – it seemed like an enormous undertaking at the time – I can’t believe that they are now building a wooded park over the top of it. It will be very cool when it is finished – a nice addition of some nature to the edge of the Arts District.

I cut across to Oak Cliff and drove down to Davis Street. This brought back a lot of memories for me. When I first moved to Dallas in 1981 I lived with some friends that were remodeling a house in Kessler Park for a while. I remember riding the bus on those streets to my new job in the skyscrapers of downtown. For a kid that had been in Kansas for years this was really exciting and every day I would look out of my bus windows with excitement, wonder, and anticipation at the amazing future that was sure to come to pass. Well, I was young and didn’t know any better.

The street the house was on, Edgefield, is as beautiful as ever. It looks unchanged in thirty years, except the trees have grown almost together overhead and they were orange with fall colors – georgeous. The house itself was a bit of a shock. It still looked the same in the front, the classic Kessler Park Tudor Revival brick – but the entire back yard was filled with a massive two story addition – making the humble cottage into a gigantic mansion.

The truck was set up at Davis and Edgefield, in front of Urban Acres. I was a little late, so many of the choices were crossed off their menu board, but I chose a Coconut Mango Chicken (with Thai Pepper Slaw) and Sweet Potato Portobella (roasted and topped with an orange balsamic reduction). They don’t call these food trucks “gourmet” for nuthin’ – these were not your mama’s tacos.

As usual… it was very good.

3 Mean and a Taco - Gourmet Food Truck

The board with today's selections, next to the "Tip Monster"

The key to a Food Truck's success is to communicate with their customers. The Twitter feed and Facebook Pages have to be kept up, minute to minute.

Coconut Mango Chicken

Sweet Potato Portobella (this was really, really good)