They’re restaurants with steering wheels, food emporiums atop four tires with menus of scratch-made eats. When nearly 40 mobile food trucks gather Sunday at Cheney Stadium, it will be a pop-up food court like no other in the South Sound.
The one-day festival Moveable Feast runs from noon-5 p.m. Sunday. It’s free except for the cost of food and five bucks for parking. A VIP $10 ticket buys early entry and parking (see below for details).
Credit tricky municipal regulations, a smaller inventory of food creators or shaky economics, but Tacoma’s mobile truck scene has remained far-flung and small.
The South Sound is home to at least a few-dozen trucks or carts — most of which serve Mexican food, but there’s also Filipino, barbecue, hot dogs, cake and even frozen yogurt — but unlike Seattle and Olympia, no pods or cart lots exist here for trucks to gather on a regular basis.
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Enter Alyson Jones, event consultant to the Tacoma Rainiers, and Odette D’Aniello, who owns the Celebrity Cake Studio bakery and cake truck. Last year, they teamed up to create the first Moveable Feast to fill what they viewed as a gap in South Sound’s mobile food scene - a gathering place for mobile restaurants.
This year, they expanded the one-day event in concept and footprint. Of the trucks and restaurants serving, more than a third will be Pierce County based; the others are popular Seattle trucks. They expanded the offerings, inviting trucks that produce a wider range of eats. Vegetarians will find more this year, Jones said.
The festival will expand inside Cheney Stadium where attendees can sit in shaded seats (the playing field itself will be off limits, however).
New this year, Jones said, is a section devoted to handmade Tacoma foodstuffs. Representatives from Dry Soda, Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles and Libertine Salts — all companies that got their start in the Tacoma area — will be at the festival.
You know how you go to a stadium or festival and pay $10 for prefab, crummy food? The trucks featured at Moveable Feast are restaurants known for producing food that’s as original as it is affordable. Expect prices around $4-$8. The downside? Portions at many trucks are big - they'll serve their full-size menu items. That means you may fill up quickly. My advice is to bring a crew of eaters so everyone gets a fair share of bites and also so you don't have to resort to unbuttoning your pants and assuming a Thanksgiving stance to get through the event.
Tip: For a sweet finish, dessert trucks and businesses will offer their treats in one area. Among the list of attendees are D’Aniello’s cake truck, Hello, Cupcake, Hilltop Pop Shop (frozen popsicles), and Tacoma company Ice Cream Social.
Moveable Feast 2013When: Noon-5 p.m. Sunday July 28, 2013Cost: $5 for parking, but the event is free, except for the cost of foodVIP Entrance: $10 buys you a T-shirt and a one-hour early admission and parking. Purchase VIP entry through Ticketmaster or tacomafoodtruck.com, or buy at Cheney Stadium during box office hours.Info: tacomafoodtruck.com or 253-752-7700
CRITIC'S PICKS, TRUCKS TO TRY:Barrel No. 51:
The mobile barbecue truck has been traveling South Sound for more than three years, serving its pulled pork sandwiches and occasional ribs. The company also sells its own brand of barbecue sauce.
Odette D’Aniello has operated her bakery for nearly a decade in the Tacoma Dome neighborhood. Her truck travels the region, delivering cake. At last year's Moveable Feast, she sold huge pieces of cake, which proved an exceptional value for 2-3 diners at $5 a slice.Choripan:
This is a catering food truck that is an outpost of the cafe of the same name at the Museum of Glass. The owners also operate Tacoma’s Asado, Masa and Engine House No. 9. Choripan is an homage to Argentinean street food, serving sandwiches fueled by South American flare. Last year's sandwiches were $6.Fleischkuechle:
This truck featuring Russian-German fried meat pies (pronounced flish-KOOSH-lay) has served its pies going on two decades at the Puyallup Fair. For 17 of those years, it was run by sisters-in-law Pat Jorgensen and Pat Tuthill, but is now operated by family friend Ben Vrieze. You can’t go wrong with the standard beef pie. Last year, pies were priced around $4.
Hilltop Pop Shop: This Tacoma business produces frozen pops with flavors I love - strawberry lemon, lavender orange, minty melon, lemon-berry ginger, strawberry rhubarb. Last year, I snagged a raspberry cream pop for $3.Ice Cream Social: Layla Isaac serves up Tacoma-made ice cream in unusual combinations. Jalapeno-mango, lemon-ginger and figs with balsamic vinegar are some of her neater blends. Last year, I indulged in a double scoop of peach and salted caramel ($6).Lumpia World: Owner Derrick Ellis first introduced his lumpia and Filipino eats to diners at the Tacoma Farmers Market, but expanded this year to a stand-alone restaurant in Federal Way. Try the lemongrass chicken lumpia.
Seattle restaurants: Athena’s Mediterranean, Barriga Llena, Ben and Jerry’s, Box Nature Sushi, The Box on Wheels, Chopstix, Contigo, I Want Curry Now, Fish Basket, Grilled Cheese Experience, Jamaican Sensation, Jemil’s Big Easy, The Jerk Station, Kaosamai Thai, Maximus-Minimus, Off the Rez, Raney Brothers Barbecue, Santi’s Kitchens, Street Donuts, Street Treats, Taco Time Traveler, Tokyo Dog, Where You At Matt