The Most Interesting Taco in the World

A couple of weeks ago I saw on facebook that Dos Equis was sponsoring a food promotion called Feast of the Brave. Through Cinco de Mayo, Dos Equis was teaming in Dallas with the Rock And Roll Tacos food truck in a competition to determine the American city with the bravest palate. Dallas would be competing with Miami, Houston, Austin, and Los Angeles for which city can earn the most “Bravery Points” by eating various unusual tacos. The delicacies promised were everything from wild hare, to shark, to wild hog, to goat, to frog legs, to snails (with corn fungus), to hog ear, to intestines, to alligator, to cricket….

An finally, each city would boast a “mystery taco” – worth 100 points each.

Do you think this might be something that would appeal to me?

Oh, Hell Yeah!

Unfortunately I was very, very busy and wasn’t able to hook up with the food truck until the very end. On Friday I took some flex time and left work early, hopping on the DART train and rushing to Main Street Park where the truck was set up. I ran up only to discover they were closing down… out of meat. The comely Dos Equis Taco Girls were very apologetic and showed me where they would be on Saturday, Cinco de Mayo – their last day.

We had another busy day planned, but I was not going to miss out so we drove down to the Albertson’s on McKinney and Lemmon at eleven, right when they opened. I did not realize that the tacos were free and you could get as many as you wanted.

There was no way I was going to mess around with Rabbit (only 10 points) or Wild Hog (Hey, that’s pork… what’s so brave about that? And only 20 points) – so I ordered two Shark (30 points each) and two Mystery Tacos (the Mystery Tacos were 100 points each). That totaled two hundred sixty bravery points – I feel I did my civic duty.

The Shark tacos were very good. The fish was rare and was served in a crispy shell with some tropical salsa. The mystery tacos were OK – nothing special – soft flour shells with lettuce and tomato.

My guess is that the mystery tacos were iguana. They wouldn’t tell us what they were – they said the identity would go out over twitter at ten that evening.

The Dallas “Feast of the Brave” Menu

One of the Dos Equis Taco Hotesses

Two Shark Tacos on the left, and two Mystery (Iguana) tacos on the right.

Feast of the Brave Taco Truck

He once went on vacation to The Virgin Islands ..Now they are just called The Islands.

I was right about Dallas’ mystery taco – it was iguana. Chicago’s was grasshopper, Miami was oxtail, Austin was straight jalepeno, and Los Angeles was 1,000 year old egg. I’m afraid that Dallas didn’t do too well, finishing fourth behind Miami, Chicago and Austin (we wanted to beat Austin). Bringing up the rear was Houston (at least we beat them) and last, Los Angeles.

I don’t always eat tacos, but when I do, I prefer iguana.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese! And Beer!

The Little Vessel Food Truck

This last Saturday, looking for something to do, I discovered a Food Truck Block Party at the Ginger Man in uptown. So we took the DART train down to the underground Cityplace Station and climbed up to the surface.

The other night I saw a piece on television about how the DC government can’t keep the escalators going to their subway stations. Dallas doesn’t do any better. The Cityplace Station is ten stories underground and customers use six sets of escalators or three elevators to reach the surface. Only one escalator (the lowest up escalator) and none of the elevators were functioning. That wasn’t a problem for us – we could walk the stairs, but it was a real pain for some others. One homeless guy with a huge cart full of his belongings was trapped – he had ridden up the one working escalator up to an intermediate landing and now he couldn’t go any farther up or even back down.

We did reach the surface and as we emerged, blinking, into the sunlight I saw that our timing was perfect. The streetcar was right there. It was the Green Dragon, and it was on the turntable... and it was turning. I have been wanting to watch that thing spin since it was installed and finally I saw it.

We rode the Green Dragon down to Boll street and walked a short distance to the block party. A parking lot next to the Ginger Man was full of about a half-dozen food trucks serving food and desserts. Inside the place was a big crowd, live music, and a large assortment of beers.

Some of the food trucks had made food to co-ordinate with certain special beers being sold at the Ginger Man. The trucks had printed up little guides with the list of beers and what food would go good with each choice. I thought that was cool – sort of like a poor-man’s gourmet wine tasting.

As always, when faced with a choice of food trucks, I chose the one I had never tried before. There was only one new one (I am cutting a pretty wide swath through the still growing Dallas food truck scene) – I had heard of it before, The Little Vessel Grill.

Their menu looked good – a prix fixe – each item was seven bucks. I chose the item on the top of the menu – the Tomato Bisque Soup and Grilled Cheese (Fire in the Hole) – because it was the first item on the menu. Candy chose the second item, the BBQ Pork Sandwich (Barque at the Moon) because… it was a BBQ Pork Sandwich.

Little Vessel Grill Menu

It was very good.

We had plans to go some other places, but there were specialty beers to try, other food trucks to visit, and a place full of interesting people (and a few dogs) so we ended up going nowhere else and riding the train back home (after walking down ten stories of steps) as the sun set.

Little Vessel Food Truck Facebook

Little Vessel Food Truck Twitter

Little Vessel Food Truck Home Page

Little Vessel Grille: There Is Artistry In That Truck!

Eating Out :: DFW Food Trucks, Little Vessels Grill

Nom Nom Nom

Meat Pie!

As I was puttering around the house Saturday, trying to shake off the ache of a sleepless night, I thought about getting some cereal or something in my gullet – but I realized there would be food trucks at the Ciclovia de Dallas and that I would want to eat there. That made for some hungry driving around, but I was rewarded as I cycled across the closed-off Houston Street Viaduct by the appearance of a gourmet food truck that I had never tried before.

It was the Three Lions truck and this one boasted English Food. A while back I tried the excellent Three Men and a Taco truck and it was good. The problem is that the folks behind this truck were British ex-pats and driving another Taco truck around North Texas didn’t fit in with their souls. So the gaudy Taco wrap came off and the truck became Three Lions.

Most of the Ciclovia festivities were over before I arrived. When I rode my bike up to the truck they were working on the menu sign, crossing off the Sausage Roll. Looking at what was left, I decided on the Meat Pie (The Carolina BBQ Pork Mini Burger looked good, but didn’t sound very English to me). While I was waiting for my food a guy came up to grab a napkin and told me, “Oh man, those sausage rolls are great… Oh crap! They are out of them!” He looked at me like a poor relative as they handed me my meat pie.

I moved to the condiment section and chose the bottle of Sriracha (anything good is better with Sriracha on it). A Hispanic family was standing there eating the last of the sausage rolls and the man pointed to the Sriracha and in broken English said, “That stuff is good… spicy!” I agreed and gave it another squirt.

I carried my pie back to where my bike leaned up against the concrete bridge rail. I sat there eating, listening to the live music, and watching the bikes of the Ciclovia de Dallas roll by. It was good, though I was so hungry I can’t really give a fair review.

Some day, though, I’m going to try that sausage roll.

Three Lions Food Truck Home Page

Three Lions Facebook

Three Lions Twitter

Three Lions food truck at the Ciclovia de Dallas

Texas in our hearts, England in our blood.

A meat pie, Sriracha sauce, a diet Coke, a bike, and a concrete bridge

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.