For six hours Sunday, Wright Park will become Tacoma’s biggest pop-up food court.
The second Tacoma Food Truck Fest begins at 11 a.m. Find your stretchiest pants. The ones with the grease stains. This is an event built for messy eating. It’ll be a bonanza of all things fried, glazed, dunked, barbecued and grilled.
In all, 24 trucks will serve at the event sponsored by Metro Parks Tacoma. About half of those have ties to Pierce County. The other half are visiting from Seattle, Des Moines and the Bellevue area.
Grab friends if you’re a grazer. Most food trucks at these kinds of festivals serve full-size portions. Stomach space will shrink quickly unless you share those entrees.
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Get there early. Every food truck festival I’ve written about in Tacoma has turned up a singular complaint post festival — “the trucks ran out of food.”
Beyond food, find performers, including Stephanie Anne Johnson and Mixxed Fit, on stage. Engine House No. 9 and Powerhouse beers will be on tap in the beer garden.
Here are my critic’s picks for trucks and eats to rank high on your list:
Big on burgers: Small burgers, stacked burgers, even meatless burgers. Stacks Burgers, Plum Burger, R.J.’s Fast and Fresh, Arnold’s Happy Days and the Bread and Circuses truck list big, meaty burgers. Or, in the case of Plum Burger, meatless burgers.
Vegan eating: And speaking of Plum Burger, the Seattle-based sister business to Tacoma’s vegan restaurant Quickie Too, the restaurant will serve its vegan burgers (tempeh, tofu and portobello) along with vegan wraps and salads.
Tacos: The Mobile Food Command Center, the food truck from Tacoma’s X Group Restaurants, which owns Asado, Masa and Engine House No. 9, will bring its portable Mexican eats to the festival. Order the asada street tacos, if they’re on the menu, or the Tijuana dog, a bacon-wrapped link on a bun, with queso. And Tacoma’s oldest taco truck, Josefina’s Burrito Boy, will make an appearance with its menu of portable Mexican food.
Seattle trucks: This is your chance to check out the big Seattle trucks without venturing out of Tacoma. Hallava Falafel specializes in falafel, shawarma and double-dropped fries. Catch a glimpse of Elemental Pizza, the Seattle-based pizza business opening a restaurant later this year in downtown Tacoma. Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max is a truck featuring food from Hawaii.
Sweet stuff: The mobile outpost of Lakewood’s Original House of Donuts will sling doughnuts. Tacoma’s Celebrity Cake Studio will dish out oversized slices of cake. Make that the stop right after you pay a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck.
Far-flung world eats: Tacoma’s VietNom Nom will serve its banh mi sandwiches, Seattle’s Tokyo Dog features hot dogs inspired by Japanese street eats and Tacoma’s Lumpia World will fry up its specialty, lumpia (the Filipino cousin of Chinese egg rolls).
Barbecue: The Wood Shop BBQ is a Seattle truck building a reputation for ribs. And a new local truck, Uncle Lyman’s BBQ Pit from Tacoma, is planning to serve rubbed and barbecued chicken.
In addition to this weekend’s Metro Parks Tacoma festival, there’s a new food truck festival sponsored by the Pierce County Parks and Recreation Department. The Mobile Food Fest will be from noon-7 p.m. Aug. 22 at Sprinker Recreation Center, 14824 C St. S., Tacoma. The event is free, except for the price of food. Expect to see 15 trucks serving, a majority of them from outside the Pierce County area.
Food Truck Fest
Where: Wright Park, 501 S. I St., Tacoma
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday (July 19)
Admission: Free, except for the cost of food
Trucks: Arnold’s Happy Days, Ben & Jerry’s, Bread and Circuses, Budha Bear Bagels, Celebrity Cake Studio, Elemental Pizza, Fish Basket, Hallava Falafel, Hometown Dogs, It’s Greek To Me/Finnwick’s Kitchen, Josefina’s Burrito Boy, Lumpia World, Mobile Food Command Center, Original House of Donuts, Plum Burger, R.J.’s Fast and Fresh, Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max, Stacks Burgers, Tokyo Dog, Tornado Potato, Uncle Lyman’s BBQ Pit, VietNom Nom, Who Dat? and Wood Shop BBQ.