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.

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Bánh mì at Walgreens

Nammi Food Truck at Walgreens

I had a day off of work and was being lazy when I began to feel a mite peckish. I checked my twitter feed and discovered that the Nammi Food Truck was setting up in a Walgreens parking lot on Beltline in Addison – not too far from my humble home. Some Bánh mì would hit the spot, so off I went.

One of the tough nuts to crack as gourmet food trucks become more and more common is where do they find a place to park. Restaurant owners tend to be powerful political players and always work to restrict their competition – especially mobile cavalry type competition that can swoop in on a moment’s notice and gobble up valuable customers.

Now I realize how difficult it can be to run a restaurant and sympathize with their plight. But I also don’t think that competition is always a bad thing. The more options people have the more they will eat out and the more business will be driven to restaurants in general. I’m in the minority on this, of course.

So the food trucks have to fight restrictive ordinances to find a place to set up. It is rare to find them out in the suburbs, so I was glad to find one at a Walgreens.

Addison is lousy with restaurants and all the parking lots were full with folks out for lunch from work. There were only a couple spaces left in the Walgreens lot. A steady flow of customers, about two or three deep were ordering at the little window at the bright blue truck. Everyone would order, then stand around typing on their smart phones while their sandwiches were put together. I waited my turn, ordered a grilled pork Bánh mì and pulled a cold Diet Dr. Pepper from a mound of ice in the front of the truck.

“Hey, I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to sell you a Dr. Pepper here,” the guy in the truck said. “It’s a deal we have with the location.”

“Oh,” I said, “I guess they want me to come inside the drug store and buy my drink there.”

The guy nodded. I guess that’s fair. They give up a bit of their parking lot in exchange for customers that come inside for drinks and maybe some ibuprofen while they are at it. I almost went inside, but didn’t want the hassle.

I had writing to do, my first strong idea for a story that I had had in weeks, so I carted my sandwich off to the library, and filled my water bottle from the drinking fountain.

It was very good, by the way.


Secret Slob Sauce!

I felt like another food truck, so checking the schedules, I found that Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe was serving lunch down at a flea market at Southside on Lamar – so off I went.

Southside is an odd sort of place. It is a modern urban development constructed out of an old massive Sears Warehouse just south of Downtown Dallas. Like a lot of new developments here, it is teetering on the edge of a critical mass – people, money, entertainment, shopping. So far, so good. I’d like to live there if I could afford it.

I had seen Ruthie’s before, it was next to the SsahmBBQ truck down in the arts district when I had some Kimchee Fries. The Ruthie’s truck looked inviting, even though I chose the Korean BBQ tacos for the evening. I was glad to finally get to check the chow out.

The truck was parked on the street right up against the red brick of the old warehouse.

There was a big crowd waiting in line. A lot of folks were down there for the flea market and the truck was an irresistible draw. They were already running low on raw materials – no chicken, Turkey, or cheddar cheese.

To make things go quicker, the line passed down a pad and some markers, so you could fill out your choice while you waited. It all looked good. The Secret Slob Sauce looked irresistible – plus they were passing around a plastic ramekin of the stuff along with a bit of chips… so you could check it out.

The wait went quickly, the sandwich was delicious.

Folks waiting in line… some with flea market crap they had bought. Everybody was friendly and chatting. They were playing classic oldies rock – the young guy taking orders asked me if I liked Boston (“More than a Feeling” was blaring out of the speakers). He said he had seen Boston and Styx not too long ago and it was, “The best concert I had ever seen.” I told him I thought I’d seen Boston and Styx in nineteen seventy eight – more than thirty years ago. Now that I think about it… it was Styx with Rick Derringer, Steve Miller and Frampton that I actually saw.

Jesus, that was a long time ago.

The big question with a food truck is where do you chomp down your grub? The Southside Building had recessed windows along the sidewalk where you could sit and scarf. All very fun.