Thursday, July 28, 2011

Food Truck Food Court Debut

Columbia is known for several things: we're "famously hot,"  state government is here, the omnipresent USC, and we have a rockin' food scene. No, really.  We do.  I could rattle off a gazillion restaurants that are here in our fair city that you'd expect to find in a larger, more hip, more "metro" city.  But, something we're also becoming known for is food trucks.  Yea!  I don't know if the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race show got the idea rolling here in Columbia, but when I found out we had trucks roving around town, I was ecstatic that this cool concept had found its way to my town.

Yesterday the fine folks at Cromer's hosted the four trucks for a food court in their parking lot.  From 12-3 Columbia's lunchers could sample Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on WheelsAlfresco MobilistaPawley's Mobile Eats and 2 Fat 2 Fly all in one spot.  I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when I heard about this event.  I've yet to make it to one of the trucks, so this was my day.  I spread the word to many friends and then reached out to make a new one.  

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is The Hungry Lady.  If you haven't read her work, you simply must check Laura out. She claims she's not a cook, although I have hope for her!  So, she dines out more often than cooking at home (insert sufficient jealousy here) and blogs her little heart out.  If you can't make up your mind about dinner, go to her blog and get some ideas. 

We're ladies, we're hungry and we're fabulous

So, Laura and I decided to meet in person at the (#ftfc) Food Truck Food Court event.  I was hoping to spend some time talking and getting to know her, but the blistering asphalt, July climate and crazy long lines conspired against us.  Which leads me to telling you about the trucks and the food...

I haven't had the Bone-in BBQ yet and really want to try it.  But, honestly, I decided against it yesterday because the line was huge and I'd been told by a couple of people that they have a tendancy to be really slow.  Since it was about 300 degrees in that parking lot, I decided BBQ wasn't the choice for me that day.  My friend Kelley decided to tough it out and got in their line.  Bless her BBQ lovin' heart...she ordered the barbecued brisket sandwich.  From the time she placed her order to the time she received her lunch, over 45 minutes had elapsed.  Did I mention that it was 300 degrees outside?  What I don't understand is this:  the concept of food trucks is to serve food to people quickly.  Trucks cater to the on-the-go lunch hour, in a hurry crowd.  You walk up to the truck, order some food, they hand it to you and off you go.  Plus, when you're serving barbeque and chicken salad, you have all that stuff already made and spoon it onto a bun or bread.  Right?  Am I missing something here?  So, over an hour later when she got back to her office with her brisket, Kelley did enjoy her lunch.  She was very complimentary of the brisket: said it was moist and flavorful although a bit salty.  It wasn't on the advertised focaccia, but on a water roll, but good nonetheless.  In fact, she said she preferred the bun to focaccia.

Now, The Hungry Lady had a similar experience.  She has been looking forward to an opportunity to try 2 Fat 2 Fly.  She didn't have to wait long to place her order, but ended up standing around for about 45 minutes waiting on her food.  Now, her order also should be served in a flash.  She chose the combo which was 2 jambalaya-stuffed wings, 2 Jam Rock wings and waffle fries. F.O.R.T.Y.- F.I.V.E. -M.I.N.U.T.E.S. Anyway, she reports that the wings were awesome and she was quite pleased, but it ate up her entire lunch break and she'd actually planned a long lunch for that day.  Click here to read her detailed comments about her lunch.

Neil, my friend Ellen and I chose the Pawley's truck.  Neil went with the grilled mahi tacos, but was disappointed.  He said they just weren't flavorful at all.  I reminded him that he had made this same assessment in the restaurant a long time ago.  He'd forgotten.  He just said, "I should just stick with the grilled mahi salad at the restaurant because it's always good."  So, there you have it.  Neil recommends the mahi salad.  Ellen ordered the Folly Creek shrimp tacos and loved every bite, although she wished she had a fork.  I ordered the fried green tomato BLT:  fried green tomatoes, bacon and homemade pimento cheese.  I was crossing my fingers that it would not be overloaded with pimento cheese and I was happy to see that it wasn't.  I love a really good homemade pimento cheese, but I find that sometimes cooks can be heavy-handed with it.  The tomato was perfect-thickly sliced, tangy, crispy.  And then there was the bacon.  Oh, bacon, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. 

Despite my gripes, I loved this event.  Probably would have been a little more comfortable in September rather than July, but hey, Columbia is the furnace we choose to call home.  Hopefully the long wait times and long prep times were just the result of larger crowds than anticipated or perhaps just still working out the kinks.  If the food truck folks fine tune their systems so they can crank the food out faster, they are all going to make a good living and the rest of us are gonna gain some weight!

The best way to keep track of the trucks, what they're doing and where they're going to be, is to follow them on Twitter or Facebook.  My new friend Laura, the Hungry Lady, took the time to compile all the links to their FB and Twitter pages, so click over to her post and grab that info.  The word on the street is that the FTFC may become an monthly event...keep your ear to the ground!  Read Gastronomy and The Hungry Lady too.  We'll do our best to keep you informed, entertained and craving something good to eat.


  1. I agree, September, October, November... those would all be perfect months for FTFC! Maybe they have learned from this first experience and will start adjusting their processes inside the truck to expedite the waiting time! I really want to try Bone In's veg. sandwich!

  2. If you can do it, I'd recommend doing Bone-In for brunch on a Saturday. They're usually at Baan Sawan on Devine Street, and Baan Sawan makes a killer mimosa. Plus it's a Saturday, so in theory you'd have more time to wait around for food.



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