Now is the time when Pierce County’s mostly hidden and far-flung food-truck community comes out to play.
There are dozens of licensed food trucks in Pierce County, but the majority of them spend more time catering private events than serving food on a city street.
That’s why summer food-truck festivals are so handy. In a single event, a diner can sample a dozen or more trucks all in one location.
The first of the season is this weekend, with three more planned through August. Details are below, as well as quick looks at new local trucks.
A few things to note when mobile-restaurant-festival grazing.
The first is that you should not expect food trucks to sell smaller portions (blame economics). That means you need to bring fellow bellies to share the food.
Second, wear your stretchiest Thanksgiving pants. The ones pre-stained with turkey grease. You’ll thank me later.
Third, you’ll want to bring your own chairs or blankets as no seating is provided other than the lawn (I feel it’s important to remind you that we live in a state where it does rain, and wet grass is not delightful).
Fourth, because mobile restaurants are tiny, and on wheels, they don’t carry endless supplies. Get there early because it’s common for food trucks to run out.
NEW TRUCKS TO WATCH
Xander’s Incredible Sandwiches
Festivals: Food Truck Feast and Food Truck Fest.
Other locations: Occasional visits to Dystopian State Brewery and Summit Club/Cheney Stadium.
This sister truck to the Federal Way-based Stacks Burgers truck started roaming in May.
Truck operator Sage Sanchez formerly called California home, which is why diners will recognize a touch of his home state in his food. The truck is named after a fictional superhero that is the truck’s mascot “and looks nothing like me,” Sanchez joked.
He focuses on sandwiches and his area of expertise is in smoked meats, which he cooks low-and-slow on an offset Yoder smoker fueled by pecan, oak or applewood (the meat dictates the type of wood he uses).
His menu includes a smoked tri-tip sandwich on a buttered, toasted bun. If you’ve never heard of tri-tip, it’s sometimes called “Santa Maria steak,” a nod to its California roots.
He’s also got a smoked pulled pork sandwich with a house-made barbecue sauce.
His version of a torta sandwich comes with marinated, grilled skirt steak and fresh guacamole (also available as a side).
All sandwiches are served with chips. For gluten-free diners, he can turn any sandwich into tacos with corn tortillas.
There’s one surprise menu item: A lobster roll made with warm-water lobster and served as a mayo-dressed salad with cole slaw on a toasted bun. He calls it the Almost Maine Sandwich.
P&J’s Waffle Delight
Festivals: Food Truck Feast, Food Truck Frenzy, Mobile Food Fest.
Other locations: Puyallup Farmers Market every Saturday, and elsewhere.
Paige Dinsmore is the P and husband James Meeks is the J behind P & J’s Waffle Delight, which has been collecting buzz since its inaugural truck season last year. The truck specializes in chicken and waffles and decadent waffle sandwiches.
Dinsmore and Meeks are going to be very busy this season. In addition to appearing at the Puyallup Farmers Market and festivals, they’ve got a new side gig as parents. Their baby was born earlier this week, but they’ll still be serving at this weekend’s Food Truck Feast.
Dinsmore grew up in Spanaway and is a teacher at Clover Creek Elementary, and Meeks is a paraeducator and football coach at Spanaway Lake High School. He’s originally from Oakland but moved here to attend Central Washington University, where he met Dinsmore.
A California restaurant owned by family friends, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, inspired their truck menu. The summer before they moved their operations into a truck, they served from a tent at the Puyallup Farmers Market, where they still serve every Saturday.
This summer, they have plans to play around with peaches and waffles and will add more waffle sandwiches to their lineup. They’re known for their playful flavor combinations. Their latest sandwich is modeled after a cheddar biscuit from Red Lobster.
Viet Nom Nom
Festivals: Food Truck Feast, Food Truck Frenzy, Food Truck Fest, Mobile Food Fest.
Other locations: Check their Facebook for announcements.
Viet Nom Nom is not a new truck, but it’s been missing from the food-truck scene for nine months. That’s because of a devastating car accident that damaged the truck in August.
If all goes as planned, this weekend’s Food Truck Feast will be the first appearance by Viet Nom Nom since that accident.
“We were heading to Brew 53 (the beer festival) last year, and a lady turned right in front of us and hit us head on,” said Andy Huynh, who founded the truck in 2015 with brother Paul Huynh and business partner Chris Weltzer.
The truck sustained enough damage to end their business for about 10 months. Insurance is paying for the damage, but Huynh said the repair process has been slow.
The menu at first will be limited, Andy Huynh said.
The truck’s specialty, banh mi sandwiches, will be on the menu this weekend, as will rice bowls, he added.
ALSO LOOK FOR
Rain or Shine on Fire is a Tacoma wood-fired pizza truck that typically serves at 6310 McKinley Ave. E., but it’ll leave its home base for the Food Truck Frenzy. The Pit Stop Grill will serve its sandwiches and brats at three of the festivals. Puyallup-based soul food truck C ‘n’ a Wings ‘n’ Things also will pop up at the Food Truck Frenzy.
FOOD TRUCK FEAST
The lowdown: Free community festival hosted by the Peninsula Metropolitan Park District.
Details: Saturday, , 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sehmel Homestead Park, 10123 78th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor; penmetparks.org, 253-858-3400.
Trucks: 15 booked. Arnold’s Happy Days, Burrito Boy, Clara’s Wok N Roll, Curbside Urban Cuisine, The Frying Dutchman, Hometown Dogs, Jemil’s Big Easy, Kama’Aina Grill, On the Grind Espresso, P&J’s Waffle Delight, Smokin’ Zee’s BBQ, Stacks Burgers, Tornado Potato, Viet Nom Nom, Xander’s Incredible Sandwiches.
Also serving: A no-host beer, wine and mini-cocktail garden that raises money for scholarships (root beer also served).
Extras: Live music by A Street Blues from 11 a.m.-noon; Woodland West from 12:30-2:30 p.m.; and Mr. Pink from 3:30-5 p.m. Adult lawn games such as corn-hole toss and ladder ball.
FOOD TRUCK FRENZY
The lowdown: Free community event sponsored by Puyallup’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Details: June 24, Noon-6 p.m., Bradley Lake Park, 531 31st Ave. SE, Puyallup; puyallupparksandrec.com, 253-841-5457.
Trucks: 18 booked. Arnold’s Happy Days, Budha Bear Bagels, Burrito Boy, Chick’n Fix, C ‘n’ a Wings ‘n’ Things Food Truck, The Frying Dutchman, Kama’Aina Grill, Lumpia World, Mobowl Cajun, On the Grind 253, P&J’s Waffle Delight, The Pit Stop Grill, Pull My Ear Concessions, Rain Or Shine On Fire, Tabassum, Tornado Potato, Tummy Yummy Thai, Viet Nom Nom.
Extras: Performers include Slim Wizzy from noon-1:30 p.m.; Afrodisiacs from 2-3:30 p.m.; Wally and the Beaves from 4-5:30 p.m.
FOOD TRUCK FEST
The lowdown: Free festival sponsored by Metro Parks Tacoma.
Details: July 23, 10:30 a.m.- 6 p.m., Wright Park, 501 S. I St., Tacoma; metroparkstacoma.org/foodtruckfest, 253-592-8019.
Trucks: 21 booked. Arnold’s Happy Days, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Ben and Jerry’s, Celebrity Cake Studio, Chick’n Fix, Cup Steak, The Frying Dutchman, Go Dog Go, Hometown Dogs, House of Donuts, It’s Espresso On the Go, It’s Greek to Me, Kama’Aina Grill, Lumpia World, Mobile Food Command Center, The Pit Stop Grill, Stacks Burgers, Sushi Burrito, Tornado Potato, Viet Nom Nom, Xander’s Incredible Sandwiches.
Extras: Live performances by Kim Archer and Kristen Marlo.
MOBILE FOOD FEST
The lowdown: Free event sponsored by the Pierce County Parks and Recreation Department.
Details: Aug. 26, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sprinker Recreation Center, 14824 C St. S., Tacoma; piercecountywa.org/ mobilefoodfest.
Big change: The event is moving from the Sprinker parking lot to the grass outfields at the baseball complex.
Trucks: 20 booked. Arnolds Happy Days, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Budha Bear Bagels, Burrito Boy, Crisp Creperie, Curbside Urban Cuisine/Bates Technical College, Dirty Dog, The Frying Dutchman, Hometown Dogs, Jonz Catering, Kama’Aina Grill, Lumpia World, On The Grind, The Pit Stop Grill, P&J’s Waffle Delight, Seattle Chicken Over Rice, Tabassum, Tornado Potato, Viet Nom Nom, WOW! Sushi Burrito.
Extras: North of 50 Band performs 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Cannibal Hamster from 2-3:30 p.m.; Slim Wizzy, 4-6 p.m.