Leftover from the summer
Arts District, Dallas, Texas
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.
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:
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.
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I now have a new obsession. The recent trend of gourmet food trucks is… well, I like it. I like the idea of quality eats in a portable location. I like the culture that is growing around the things. I like the idea that the Internet and smart phones are what are making the gourmet food truck movement possible – you can watch the twitter stream of your favorite trucks and find out when they are near you.
It’s pretty damn cool, if you ask me. This is truly the best of all possible worlds.
Last Friday, I enjoyed some Korean Bar-B-Q fusion down in the Arts District. On Saturday, around lunch time, I felt a mite peckish, so I went on-line and found a food truck, The City Street Grill, would be near the Galleria, in the parking lot of a jewelry store, until 2:30. That’s a good location for me – I could go grab some lunch, then head up the tollway to Frisco and get some writing in at the college library up there.
I checked the truck’s menu… Chicken and Waffles! That’s the ticket.
The place was wicked hard to find. I drove right by it once. I have an innate fear of jewelry stores (a good survival instinct in these modern times) but I gathered up my courage and marched up to the truck. I can see the future in this. It’s actually a friendly situation – talking to the folks in the truck, other customers.
The food was great. Fresh, aromatic waffle, succulent fried chicken, made right in front of me, easy to eat.
What more can you ask for?
On Friday I decided to take the DART train downtown after work. There were all sorts of festivities planned for the Arts District and beyond and I couldn’t think of anything better to waste my time with. I arrived pretty early and had time to walk around watching roadies unload and put together stages, rows of seats, and banks of elaborate lighting effects. There’s nothing better on a late Friday afternoon than hanging around, being useless, and watching other people work.
Looking at all that effort made me hungry after a while so I set out in quest of some gourmet food trucks. One of the festivities going on was to construct a number of mini-parks in parking spaces all over downtown. Between the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Symphony Hall they filled in some spaces with portable turf and set up some dainty chairs and tables – better to chow down on the fare from four trucks set up in the parking lot.
The four trucks were:
They all looked great, but I was standing closest to Ssahm BBQ so that’s the way I went. I took a quick glance at their menu and ordered a couple of tacos – one chicken, one tofu.
It was great. Really good, spicy food. I sat at the little table in the parking space and ate my tacos.
A nice little meal.
There was only one problem. While I was waiting for my tacos, someone else walked up to the food truck and asked what to get. The guy said, “Well, the Kimchee Fries are pretty much a must, of course.”
Kimchee Fries! Why didn’t I think of that. I looked at the menu.
Oh get the hell out! I sat for a minute enjoying the evening, then trooped back to the food truck to place my order of Kimchee fries.
Was it good. You betcha! Now I need to follow that truck around. Or if it’s on the other side of town… make my own.