Thanks in part to the Mayor’s support, Chicago food trucks are hot.
WTTW’s Check Please! was very smart to pick up on the trend by hosting their own Food Truck Fest, which was held last Friday evening. The concept was especially appealing to suburban-types like me, who know about food trucks but haven’t had much experience with them.
I absolutely love the idea of a food truck fest. And in spite of the fact that the weather was cold, rainy and generally miserable, I had a great time.
I say that even after standing for two and a half hours in the rain and holding an umbrella while attempting to scarf down the goods from 7 out of 13 food trucks. (There was beer, wine and water too, but because of long lines—which I’ll get to later, I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the drinks.)
My top food picks were:
Duck N Roll's deliciously complex duck gumbo with edamame and diced carrots.
Wagyu Wagon’s fries and mini sloppy joe on a brioche bun.
The vegan potatoes, peas and gravy dish from Curried Mobile.
The margarita pizza from Caponies. Even in the rain, the slices weren't soggy. They tasted crispy-good.
There were a wide variety of other food truck vendors too : Bergstein's NY Deli, e. leaven, Falafel Brothers, Pleasant House Bakery, Cupcakes For Courage, Getta Polpetta!, Soups in the Loop, Ice3 and Don Rafa.
I'm hoping that next year Check Please! hosts what becomes their Second Annual Food Truck Fest. Still, there needs to be a few adjustments. The food lines at many of the trucks were too long and consequently, the wait time was not reasonable.
For example, it took about 45 minutes to get a falafel sandwich from Falafel Brothers. At that point, someone could have handed me a whole Maine lobster with drawn butter, and I wouldn’t have been happy.
Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions, which could hopefully make for an even better Food Truck Fest next year:
- Make the hours of the fest longer so there aren't so many people there at the same time. Maybe start the event at 1 p.m. Or hold it over an entire weekend to accommodate a large crowd.
- Have the food truck owners confer with the vendors at Taste of Chicago and find out how to serve more people faster and more efficiently.
- Or, I hate, hate, hate to say this, but since the event probably raises funds for WTTW (or should), I will: They ought to consider raising the price tag for the event and selling fewer tickets.
- Have a Plan B in case it rains. Plan B could include tents and, if nothing else, some seating and lighting in the existing covered area of the parking lot. There were some long picnic tables this year that remained empty in the rain drops. Next year, if the day calls for rain, hire someone to bring the tables undercover.
- Hold the event earlier in the summer when there is less chance of bad weather.
I don’t think anybody will hold any of the inconveniences against the fest’s sponsors. Even with the rain and the long lines, people were happy to be there and waited patiently. No one’s spirit, pun intended, was dampened.
After all, the Food Truck Fest was a spanking new event. For Check Please!, it was their first go at a food truck fest. Next year with a few tweaks, the food fest could potentially be the event of the year.
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