Long lines of smiling faces braided together as they stretched out on the downtown city sidewalks across from City Hall last Wednesday in downtown St. Paul. It wasn't long before menu items were being erased from boards as they sold out. Jill Wilson watched the crowds as she greeted friends and stepped in to nab any errant bits of garbage. When asked about the turnout, she said, "This has been great! We'll see what next week brings." The vibe was cautiously optimistic that this idea might be a runaway hit.
Wilson helped put together the gathering of food trucks, lead by her restaurant's 128 Cafe truck, helmed by chef Ian Pierce with help from the city of Saint Paul. Last week their truck was joined by the award-winning Chef Shack, the newbies Gastrotruck run by chef Stephen Trojan, Simply Steve's, and big, orange beauty the Fork in the Road.
Menu items included the delectable sweet potato tacos at the Chef Shack, along with their amazing vegetarian curry. In their off season Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson travel the world and bring those flavors back to our lucky tongues.
Gastrotruck was flinging sliders of all sorts, including a grass-fed beef short rib dusted in coffee and braised in Surly bender on a French Meadow bun, which it eventually ran out of.
The 128 Cafe ran out of its soy-marinated, tender beef skewers served with a bright, gingery slaw, zippy sweet pickled carrots over Basmati rice, before the glorious rib supply was finally exhausted.
The Fork in the Road truck was the only one not to run out of its main entree offering, a tender-as-a-mother's-love pulled pork. It did, however run out of chips, offering guests 50 cents off their order, or a stick pretzel drizzled in salty caramel before being dunked in ebony-hued chocolate. If given the choice, take the pretzel.
When asked how they managed to keep up with the overwhelming demand, Kari Offerdahl replied, "We just brought way, way more than we ever thought we'd need." When asked what she will do differently this week, she said they'd probably switch up the menu a bit to possibly include their molten meatball sliders. Just don't forget those pretzels.
The only change we can expect from last week to this is that Simply Steve's will be replaced by the Magic Bus hot dogs. The St. Paul food truck food court is every Wednesday this summer, serving food from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the corner of Kellogg and Wabasha in downtown St. Paul.