Park and Eat
I’m starting to think food trucks are like spiders –– you’re never more than a few feet away from one. We’re past the point of calling it craze or a trend. This is officially the food truck era.
On a recent evening, ever-trendy Chow, Baby and guest headed for the center of the web: the Fort Worth Food Park (2509 Weisenberger St. near Montgomery Plaza), which opened in December. Imagine a mall food court, but instead of an Orange Julius stand (do they still exist?) and fried meat on a stick, there were half a dozen chef stands under the stars, with tables in the middle and Christmas lights hanging above.
Given the choices, I did the only thing a good glutton could: I endeavored to eat something from all six. I started safely, at the Salsa Limón truck. The El Capitan taco ($2.50), a flour tortilla stuffed with flank steak, melted white cheese, onions, cilantro, and pickled cabbage, is still my standard for achievements in taco. The barbacoa taco ($1.75), with cow cheek, may not be the most gringo-friendly carne, but it’s as tender and tasty as fois gras.
My next stop was also my favorite. When the owners of Dallas-based The Munch Box found out it was my first visit, they insisted I try a decadent crème brûlée ($4), made with vanilla beans and topped with a candy-like caramelized sugar. The showstopper, however, was the pork belly ramen ($8), topped with what they call a “perfect” poached egg, with carrots, mushrooms, grilled onions, and cilantro. This dish is a far cry from your college packaged-noodle experience. It’s ramen reinvented and elevated to elegance. The pork belly was salty and fatty and not at all rubbery. The egg is what took the dish over the top. Once popped, the yolk blended with the rest of the ingredients, adding richness and texture. The rosemary fries ($2.25), with rosemary salt, were crispy and well-seasoned.
At that point, I knew the goal of hitting all of the places would be a challenge –– but it was one I was prepared to endure. It was Gepetto’s Pizza’s maiden voyage at the food park, and based on the taste of the truck’s prosciutto-bacon-and-tomato pizza ($9), Gepetto’s will be around for a while. If you’re a fan of ham, this is the pie for you, although you’d better be prepared for a healthy dose of salt. The “truck-made” dough was buttery and flavorful albeit a tad undercooked. That being said, I give Gepetto high marks for its first day –– and the pizza made an excellent breakfast the day after.
After waddling to the Drifting Bistro, which serves American bistro-style comfort food, I was a little bummed that it had sold out of everything but the hickory-smoked barbecue chicken wings with a honey and chipotle glaze, served with a buttermilk dressing. One taste, though, and I was bummed no more. The wings were excellent, if a little sweet for my taste, though there was a nice little spice kick at the end. The dressing was creamy and a nice contrast to the spice.
My last stop was the vegetarian truck, Good Karma Kitchen, where every dish can be served vegan style on request. I was stuffed at that point, but the nachos ($9) were too tempting to resist. The chips were loaded with a soy-based “meat,” black beans, green onions, cilantro, and cheese and topped with a garlicky salsa and a creamy aioli. The flavors meshed well and tasted fresh and zesty.
Unfortunately (read: luckily for my bloated stomach), the Red Jett Sweets mobile cupcakery rolled out of the park before I had a chance to indulge in a bacon-and-maple-cream cupcake. Guest and I rolled out right behind them, my six-for-six goal unfulfilled but with my stomach and tastebuds more than satisfied. It was a lofty goal but no walk in the park.
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