TNT Diner

Food Truck Fest this Sunday at Wright Park — stretchy pants optional

Ceceila Cal of Tacoma picks up a Tornado Potato at Metro Parks Tacoma’s Food Truck Fest 2016 at Wright Park.
Ceceila Cal of Tacoma picks up a Tornado Potato at Metro Parks Tacoma’s Food Truck Fest 2016 at Wright Park. Staff file, 2016

For a few hours Sunday, Wright Park will become the area’s largest pop-up food court with 21 mobile restaurants rolling into the Tacoma park for the Food Truck Fest. This is the fourth year for the festival hosted by Metro Parks Tacoma.

Most of the mobile food businesses come from the South Sound. The festival is the largest gathering of its kind in Pierce County.

The festival is little more than an excuse to break out your best Thanksgiving stretchy pants. It’s a free event that is focused on a single food mission: Introducing locals to food trucks.

There’s also entertainment and a beer garden from Engine House No. 9.

The culinary territory is broad.

A must-try will be the Vietnamese fare of Viet Nom Nom — a truck that was out of commission from last August until last month following a car accident that damaged the truck. Andy Huynh founded the truck in 2015 with brother Paul Huynh and business partner Chris Weltzer. Andy and Paul’s mother once operated a Vietnamese sandwich cafe in the Lincoln District, and their food is modeled after the portable Vietnamese dishes they grew up eating.

The Frying Dutchman will be another truck worth trying. Trent Jurgensen will sell his cod and chips with handmade, dill-heavy tartar, and his Cajun-spiced fish tacos (don’t miss those).

Stacks Burgers, with a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Federal Way and a truck that roams throughout Pierce County, will serve its menu of towering burgers. Expect lumpia and other Filipino-fusion dishes from Lumpia World, one of the area’s longtime food trucks.

There’s even dessert. Celebrity Cake Studio will serve cake-by-the-slice. Another sweet treat will be found at the truck for Lakewood-based bakery, Original House of Donuts. Pair both with a stop at the Ben and Jerry’s/Hula Girl truck.

A few tips and tricks for navigating a food truck festival:

Bring your own chairs: Limited seating, but Wright Park has plenty of lawn for picnicking.

Full-size portions: Most trucks serve full-size entrees, not small bites built for grazing, which means you should bring backup eaters so you can sample widely.

Go early: Food truck festivals almost always sell out of something — or occasionally everything — by the end of the festival. Show up early.

Gaze before you graze: The best way to figure out a dining strategy is to roam around and look at the dishes coming out of the trucks. Feast with your eyes, then form a plan.

Bring with you: Wipes, hand sanitizer, extra napkins, a bib, Tums. You’ll thank me later for that last suggestion.

Food Truck Fest

Details: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 23, Wright Park, 501 S. I St., Tacoma;, 253-592-8019.

The lowdown: Free festival sponsored by Metro Parks Tacoma.

Trucks: Arnold's Happy Days, Ben and Jerry's/Hula Girl Ice Cream, Burrito Boy, Celebrity Cake Studio, Chick'n Fix, Cup Steak, Europa Bistro, Hometown Dogs, It's Espresso On the Go, It's Greek to Me, Kama'aina Grill, Lumpia World, Mobile Food Command Center, Original House of Donuts, Smokin' Zee's BBQ, Stacks Burgers, The Frying Dutchman, The Pit Stop Grill, Tornado Potato, Viet Nom Nom, Xander's Incredible Sandwiches.

Drinks: A beer garden by Engine House No. 9.

Extras: Live performances by Kim Archer and Kristen Marlo. Also, Mixxed Fit performances.

Seating: Limited picnic table seating, unlimited lawn seating. Bring your own chair or blanket.