For any cautious eaters out there choosing your first food truck can be a daunting task; between waiting in a long line, dispelling rumors of ‘grease trucks’ and ‘roach coaches’ and figuring out where to actually eat your food it’s a wonder anybody chooses these roving mobile eateries. But food trucks keep popping up against all odds in different cities around the country, and us skeptics must either face the trend head-on or find another way to eat. The questions below are all real concerns I’ve heard people voice about food trucks. I will try to dispel as many of these questions and rumors as I can, and hopefully create a few new food trucks fanatics along the way.
I’m afraid to eat anything at a food truck. I’ve heard their health inspections are up to a lower standard than restaurants and the word ‘roach coach’ freaks me out.
The term roach coach originated many years ago as a slang term for a food truck. Those trucks tended to be taco trucks or catering trucks that were among the first of their kind, typically seen throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco. At this time regulations on food trucks were very lax, and some of these trucks operated without proper licenses and in unsanitary conditions. Today food trucks are regulated to a much higher standard; in LA they are given the same health grades as restaurants, below a C rating and the truck will not be allowed to operate. In New York the lowest fine a food truck or cart can receive for any violation is $1000, significantly higher than the fees restaurants would pay. The simple truth is food trucks cannot afford to be unclean, and the gourmet food trucks that have been popping up recently are scrutinized by health departments and usually headed by former restaurant chefs who really know their way around a kitchen.
I can never find a food truck I like, they move around too quickly and I don’t use Twitter.
The reason food trucks move around so often is because it’s not easy to find legal parking in most cities. While rules are different depending on the area, most cities severely limit how long a food truck can spend at a certain spot, or relegate the trucks to just a few locations that always seem to be crowded. Combine that with random inspections and ticketing that force the trucks to move and it’s a wonder anyone can catch a meal. The trendier ‘gourmet’ food trucks began using Twitter to post and update their locations to their legions of followers, and it started to catch on across the country. For those of us who just aren’t that into social media, there are a number of apps you can download for your smartphone that track food trucks. These apps tend to differ by region; in New York Tweat.It and the New York Street Food app are two of the best. Most food trucks also post their weekly schedules online on their websites.
You expect me to wait in that line? I don’t care how good the food is I only have short lunch break.
It’s true that some of the most popular food trucks have long lines, particularly during peak hours in the summer. But as food trucks continue to evolve technology is affording new ways to plan ahead and get past these lines. Many food trucks allow customers to call ahead their orders to pick-up on the spot, or accept online ordering so hungry customers can actually pre-order their meals and pick them up and pay at a convenient time. Best of all, some food trucks are even hiring deliverymen to get customer’s their food the same way a restaurant would.
So now that I’ve gotten my food where am I supposed to eat it? Food trucks don’t exactly have dining rooms
Ah, the great challenge of where to eat your food truck meal. Most of the time when I grab lunch from a food truck I take it back to my office or find a local park or seating area to devour my food. At night, food trucks can actually be a great place to meet people. I’ve found that some of the most interesting people congregate around food trucks at night, and they can really turn into an outdoor party atmosphere. If you’re still not convinced, new studies have shown that it might actually be healthier to eat standing up than sitting down. Standing up while eating can help people avoid acid reflux, head rushes, and can help you digest better. So now that you have a reason to eat standing up, head on out and order a meal from your favorite food truck. If you’d like help getting started I can make plenty of recommendations.
DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com