Restaurants on wheels grill up good eats all over the South Sound, but no real gathering place exists here for mobile food trucks to convene like they do in Olympia, Seattle or Portland.
On July 29, Cheney Stadium will host the first mobile truck gathering in Tacoma. Called Moveable Feast, the event is organized by Alyson Jones, director of media and events for the Tacoma Rainiers. The one-day feast has room for about 40 mobile restaurants. So far, Jones has booked three Tacoma trucks - Celebrity Cake Studio’s Cake Mobile, Lumpia World and the
Barrel No. 51 barbecue truck. She’s also confirmed two Olympia trucks and 17 more from Seattle (see the list below). The event will be free except for the cost of food from the trucks, which will set their own pricing.
Working with Jones is Odette D’Aniello, owner of Celebrity Cake Studio, which has its own hard-to-miss lavender cupcake truck. The Cake Mobile roams the region doling out sweet treats (the stand-alone Dome neighborhood bakery on 26th has some of my favorite cupcakes and petit fors in town). D’aniello told me by phone that she’s eager to promote her dessert truck and she hopes this will be a chance for small South Sound trucks to get better exposure and find new diners.
Unlike communities that have prominent food cart lots, or "pods," featuring multiple dining choices (like here and here and here), and although there are more trucks operating here than ever before, Tacoma’s fledgling mobile food community has failed to coalesce at a central location. Even the Tollefson Plaza food cart pilot project, a city supported idea to attract food carts to a downtown plaza, hasn’t found many takers.
Jones, an avid food truck diner, is a fan of the burgeoning trend of mobile restaurants. “We have a lot of trucks, but we don’t have a culture here.” Prime example: She said trucks from Seattle, which has a booming mobile restaurant community, were quick to grasp the concept and immediately signed up for the event, while Tacoma trucks have been slow to respond, have been wary or have not responded at all. She’s hoping that getting the word out will get the attention of local trucks. Jones said she wonders if mobile food truck events like Moveable Feast would cement the idea of a gathering place for food trucks someplace in town. While Moveable Feast initially is planned to be a one-day deal, the food cart gathering could grow to become something regular if attendance is high enough, she said. For the inaugural event, they’re aiming for 5,000-7,000 diners. At the very least, she’d like it to be an annual event.
From hot dogs to tacos and fried meat pies, Jones has her eye on all kinds of Tacoma trucks. Here are the locals and other trucks she's booked:TACOMACelebrity Cake Studio Cake Mobile, the mobile offspring of one of Tacoma’s most popular dessert bakeries. Here’s a story about the truck.
Barrel No. 51, a barbecue truck that operates at the Wingman Brewers Tap Room on the weekends and near the Target on Union other days. Here’s a story about the truck. (UPDATE: Barrel No. 51 will not be able to attend the event).Lumpia World, which serves lumpia and other Filipino food every Thursday at the Tacoma Broadway Farmers Market, but also roams around other South Sound and Seattle locations.OLYMPIA: Ricardo’s Wood Fired Pizza and Firehouse Grill’s Extreme Burgers (Read this story about those trucks from our sister paper, the Olympian).SEATTLE: Skillet Street Food (upscale American), Maximus Minimus (the kitschy truck shaped like a pig serving pulled pork sandwiches), Where Ya At, Matt (Cajun and soul food), Athena's (Mediterranean), Big Food Mobile (flatbread sandwiches), The Jerk Station (Caribbean), Street Treats (desserts), Off the Rez (fry bread), Contigo (modern Mexican), The Bistro Box (upscale American), Fusion on the Run (island food/banh mi), I Want Curry Now (Indian), Pai's Food Truck (Thai/Hawaiian), Rollin' Q (Texas barbecue), The Box on Wheels (Asian fusion), Raney Brothers BBQ and Kaosamai Thai.
Tacoma Moveable FeastWhen: noon-7 p.m. Sunday July 29, 2012Cost: Free, other than the cost of food at the trucks. Free parking.VIP entry: 11 a.m.-noon; $10 buys an hour early access and a festival T-shirt. VIP tickets are the only way to get the shirt.Details: tacomafoodtruck.comEntertainment: Live music, a possible skate demo, and a kids zone with games, coloring, root beer floats and cupcake decorating.For beverages: Beer from local breweries is expected, including Harmon.Benefiting: A portion of the proceeds will go to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital
In case you missed my story last week, here's my guide to 14 South Sound taco trucks. I just found #15 while driving through Puyallup yesterday. Stay tuned.