On the corner of E Front Street and Wellington Street a cluster of food truck have sprung up in Traverse City this summer. It is an eclectic collection of mobile restaurants, one even boasting pink plastic flamingoes and faux turf. They are indicative of the food truck movement that has been spreading across the country over the past few years, growing through the cracked concrete of abandoned parking lots and planting themselves amongst fruit stands at farmers’ markets. Once a novelty and tourist attraction confined to hip (and hipster) cities like Portland OR, the food truck is now becoming a national trend and lunchtime necessity for cities all over the country.
When I first noticed this new assembly of trucks in Traverse, I was actually on my way to lunch with friends and had to eye the metal restaurants longingly while making a mental note to return the next time I was in the city. So, when I finally returned I made sure to time my arrival at peek food truck hour: lunch time. Then began my toughest challenge of the day: which truck to choose.
Eating at a cluster of food trucks is akin to eating at a mall cafeteria; only the food is 100 times better, you get to enjoy the fresh air, and you are not forced to listen to misbehaving children and the chatter of dark eyeliner wearing pre-teens. There is plenty of time spent walking from one truck to the next, reading handwritten chalkboard signs that enticingly list the grub offered that day. It becomes increasingly difficult if two trucks happen to offer the same menu item, at the same price, each with a slightly different twist. How? How do you pick which delightfully painted truck you will chose to fill your belly for you?
When all else fails, follow the lead of the best dressed hipster (or at least hipster look-alike) you can find. This should be a moto. Hipsters have very good taste in food (PBR aside).
Well, maybe it shouldn’t really be a moto, but this girl with her adorable sundress and robin’s egg blue glasses really looked like she knew what she was doing, so I followed her lead. It just so happened that she made a beeline for Roaming Harvest, who just so happened to have “locally focused street food” written on the side of their truck. I took my cue and jumped in line.
From all of the delicious sounding options (see photo) I picked the blackend whitefish tacos with cumin cilantro slaw and siracha sour cream. They really were outstanding. I was worried the heat from the siracha would overpower the other flavors in the dish (as so often happens with acessive use of siracha), but it was incredibly well balanced. The toasty cumin and cilantro slaw was spicy and cooling and an excellent choice of flavors, offsetting the whitefish nicley. In-fact, my only complaint is that there wasn’t enough of it! I felt it was a bit on the pricey side for food truck fare, but as they used local ingredients I was willing to pay the extra few buck for quality. (As I always am.)
I plan to return to Roaming Harvest in the future, but I may just have to try a few of the other trucks in the cluster first; gotta spread the love. …plus, I’m pretty sure I remember one that made exclusivly grilled cheese.
I hope this explosion of food trucks around the country continues. I love having a quality option when it comes to fast food. I like to think of these trucks as offering slow food fast, and with the rate they are catching on I invision many more “slow food fast” options in the near future.