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 V.22 No.37 | September 12 - 18, 2013 

Feature

Stalking the Wild Food Truck

Jesse Philips • jessephilips.com

The food truck is a strange beast. Governed by their own internal compass, they roam free on our streets, sometimes solitary, sometimes in packs. They maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with humans whom they lure with sugar, fat and salt-laced sustenance formed in their bellies. It prompts the question: Who is stalking whom? Still they aren’t exactly knocking at our doors, so we chase them around town like elephant hunters. Without guns. Waving money at them.

A customer enjoys a heisenburger from Rustic
Eric Williams • ericwphoto.com
A customer enjoys a heisenburger from Rustic

But must we chase them? That seems like a huge waste of time in an age where time is precious. The answer in many cases is no; food trucks emit signals via Facebook and Twitter alerting us to their whereabouts. I spent some time studying their behavior, and this is what I learned.

Pods

Food trucks flock together at noontime watering holes all over town. Like groups of majestic porpoises, they call themselves "pods." They gravitate toward parking lots which, unfortunately, often dampens the appetite. But you can always get your grub to go and haul ass to a nearby park. The wonderful thing about pods is they give you the opportunity to graze from truck to truck. Because sometimes you want a doughnut with your sushi.

As of this writing, here's where to find them. Please note that this is a very fluid list and no one truck is guaranteed to be at these spots on any given day. For the most up-to-date info or for locations of non-flocking trucks, go to the ABQ Food Trucks Facebook page where Patrick Humpf of the Gedunk truck (featuring gourmet tacos and other delights) compiles electronic alerts from all of the trucks in the cooperative.

Tuesdays: Bureau of Indian Affairs, 12th and Indian School (11am to 1pm): The Lunch Box (sandwiches, turnovers, wraps), the Toasted Bean (coffee and crepes) and Gedunk.

Wednesdays:Talin Market (11am to 1pm): Some combination of Gedunk, Rustic (burgers), the Supper Truck (Southern fusion), Soo Bak Foods (Korean fusion), Boiler Monkey (crepes), the Scottish Pie Shop (meat pies), Basil’s Home Cooking (Filipino) and Joanie and Art’s BBQ

But must we chase them? That seems like a huge waste of time in an age where time is precious. The answer in many cases is no; food trucks emit signals via Facebook and Twitter alerting us to their whereabouts. I spent some time studying their behavior, and this is what I learned.

Eubank and Development: (11am to 1pm): The Lunch Box, the Toasted Bean, Doggerz (brats, cheesesteaks)

Thursdays: Uptown Transit Center next to APS building on Louisiana (11am to 1pm): The Toasted Bean, the Lunch Box, Hot Off the Press (panini)

Fridays: Juan Tabo and Menaul: The Scottish Pie Shop, Basil's Homecooking and Joanie and Art’s BBQ

Parks

The trucks seem happier at the lush and lazy park nights. Tasty Tuesday at Hyder Park (4:30 to 8:30pm), devised by the southern fusion Supper Truck and the crepe-slinging Boiler Monkey, is the biggest draw. Here families and friend groups lounge in the grass, and listen to dulcet strains of ukulele music from Tasty Tuesday mainstay Sage Harrington, while waiting for that climactic moment when their names are called through a megaphone: "Mrrrowwwooorrr your order is ready."

For an even more au natural experience, pedal over to Old Town Farm’s Bike-In Coffee for their farm-sourced salads, soups and pastries at 949 Montoya NW (accessible from the Bosque trail, you just need to lift your bike over the gate). Open 8am to 2pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Tap Rooms

Nocturnal food trucks congregate around tap rooms and even incorporate local brews into their menus in the form of beer battered this or that. You are sure to find a truck at Marble, La Cumbre and Tractor any night of the week.

Together the tap rooms and food trucks have double-teamed their poor human prey with food and spirits. Add live music acts like Mala Maña or The Porter Draw and you may never leave.

Cinematic Events

Catered film screenings are a stroke of genius long overdue in a town devoid of anything resembling Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse cinema/dinner theater. The Supper Truck and Boiler Monkey (together known as Suppermonkey Productions) screen a movie every Thursday night (7:30pm) at ArtBar.

In a confusing plot twist, Street Food Cinema at ArtBar features food truck food without trucks, as the chefs are allowed to leave the confines of their shiny carapace and spin their magic in the ArtBar kitchen instead. (They also come inside Saturday and Sundays, 11am, at ArtBar for brunch.) Next up: The Big Lebowski, Thursday, Sept. 12.

Despite controversy with the local neighborhood association, the monthly Films and Food Trucks event at Bataan Park featuring ’80s cult classics is not yet extinct. Suppermonkey Productions and crew have been granted two more nights of free open air viewings, Sept. 15 and Oct. 6, titles to be determined.

Special Events

This is where it pays to follow ABQ Food Trucks online—for the exotic showings and black swan events like massive public water balloon fights (Supper Truck and Boiler Monkey), Brazilian Independence Day Party at Sister Bar (Gauchito Catering) or the Renaissance Fair at Rancho de las Golondrinas (Scottish Pie Shop).

Upcoming events include … oh hey, stay calm. Calmly type this into your calendar: Southwest Bacon Fest, Saturday, Nov. 2 at Balloon Fiesta Park featuring various food trucks and bacon darlings, including the Lunch Box and the Toasted Bean.

So there are your tracking tips, but wait. We’ve forgotten one of our most esteemed breeds, the solitary, wild food truck, the original species before food trucks were tamed and stylized and deemed the hot new food animal. We speak, of course, of the taco and burrito trucks that have inhabited Bridge, Old Coors and west Central for more than a decade. Stop at El Chicken on Central and San Pedro for a whole roasted bird and tortillas to furnish your picnic in the Foothills. Or wrangle El Bronco for some tacos, burritos or tortas (301 Old Coors SW) before heading to the volcanoes.

Who knows? Perhaps these old salts will outlast all of the newfangled additions to our city’s mobile food menagerie, or perhaps we have truly entered a golden age of wandering restaurants. We ponder this for only a moment because someone, or something, just handed us a pork waffle; and all of our higher mental faculties, acquired over 50,000 years, have magically disappeared.

 
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