This weekend the final four food trucks competing in Season 4 of the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race rolled through town peddling their wares. They teamed up with our local MN Food Truck Association to draw in the hungry crowds.
Although the out-of-towners were all over Twitter trying to drum up business, they were mum on the details of the contest. When they first approached a local truck about where they should go in town, they wouldn't even reveal the name of the show they were filming (although that wasn't hard to figure out.)
Trucks that were already scheduled to be at local breweries invited some of the contestants and other cohorts in the local street food business to join them.
Ryan Libby, Robert Kasak, and Adit Kalra of 612 Brew
At 612 Brew the Tikka Tikka Taco
truck set up shop. This truck is a family affair by two brothers straight out of St. Louis. On Saturday, they were selling chicken tikka tacos or "naanchos," nachos made with the Indian flatbread naan. Because of the setup of the show, they could only accept cash, and the dishes were $15 and $20 respectively. The prices were a bit much for some attendees; luckily, the local truck prices were more what we were used to, with prices starting at $2.50 for side dishes.
The tacos were served on naan, marinated like tandoori chicken, topped with creamy sauce, baby spinach, and a bunch of young cilantro. They were tender, herby, and very good, although the chicken was a little dried out.
One of the owners of 612 Brew suggested a Rated R pairing, and that was superb. Their outdoor amphitheater was filled with beer and food fans enjoying the few brief glimpses of sunshine we were afforded.
When we arrived at Indeed Brewing, the Philly's Finest Sambonis
truck was just setting up and hadn't even begun taking orders. Although they had been talking a mean Philly cheesesteak game on Twitter, they were serving a chicken cutlet sandwich topped with either tomato or spinach. They explained that bread and meat were too expensive in Minnesota, so they couldn't serve their signature dish. (Even though they were serving bread with meat in it, also for $20).
Two competitors meet at Indeed
As attendees waited for their orders, they snacked on the $4 hot dogs topped with homemade beer mustard from Natedog's and crispy fried MidNord empanadas.
The resulting sandwich and fries were disappointing. The bread was overly dense, hard to chew, excessive. The chicken cutlets were breaded, but lacked seasoning. Worst of all was the spinach, cooked into a bitter oblivion that could not be scraped off the palate. Where did the Food Network handlers send these poor guys for food? All the great bread in this town and they had that back-of-the-freezer Costco stuff.
And this is a $20 sandwich
Just as we were gnawing off the first half of the sandwich, another truck pulled in. Drama! The Slide Show
pulled in and immediately posted the most varied menu of the bunch. They had a filet mignon slider, fried pickles, and waffle fries.
Tough competition was parked nearby in the way of Gastrotruck, serving a new lamb belly slider, which chef Trojahn claimed might just be the best he's made to date.
Drawn to the sound of grass skirts swaying in the breeze
Meanwhile, there was one other truck parked over at Psycho Suzi's, and the Aloha Plate
fit right in with the tiki torches and coconut drinks.
This event was only the kickoff to the show's Minneapolis St. Paul weekend. The rest of their time spent here, they raced around to several locations selling such Minnesota-themed foods as Spam and stuff on a stick. They rolled out to their next location yesterday. There was no word on Tyler Florence sightings or who may have won this round. However, after leaving town, Philly's Finest Samboni's truck broke down on the way to the next challenge in Chicago, while Tikka Tikka Taco and Aloha Plate were trying to drum up some support and location advice. There were no updates from the Slide Show -- were they eliminated? We'll have to watch and see when the show airs later this year on the Food Network.