Thursday, April 19, 2012
LITTLE ROCK The Downtown Partnership’s first Food Truck Friday went off with a hitch.
The hugely successful event (at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Main Street) emptied the small trucks of victuals and slowed service to a west Little Rock rush hour creep. Hot Dog Mike, Haute Wheels and Christians Take Out, Too manned the inaugural food bazaar, and all three ran out of their main offerings. The popular choices seemed to be the hot pork sandwiches from Haute Wheels, the catfish from Christians, and from Hot Dog Mike, you guessed it, the lasagna!
Those not too put out by the long wait roundly praised the offerings.
“Yea! I got my food,” hooted Wendee Courtney, who scooted down from the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield office inside the Regions building.
Several explained that the long lines were the result of the hype surrounding the event — many local media outlets advertised the start of Food Truck Fridays, as well as the Partnership’s own promotion — and the relatively few trucks. At Colonel Glenn Road and University Avenue, which has itself become a foodtruck stop, as many as nine trucks are taking orders at any weekday lunch hour.
“There could be more,” said Brooke Leflar about the number of trucks. She waited at least a half hour to place her order and get it.
Courtney said she recently moved to Little Rock from Dallas, where the food-truck culture is not only well established but popularly regarded for its variety of “not just hot dogs and fried catfish” but gourmet foods.
Though simple, the catfish from Christians was moist but still flaky, with the cornmeal covering given a good toss of peppery spices. Chunda Owens, proprietor of Christians Take Out, Too, and a Little Rock police sergeant, said the secret to her catfish mix is “finding the seasonings that work, and not telling anybody.”
The Banh Mi ($7) from Haute was a filling hot pocket of smoked pork with pickled vegetables and cilantro that, with sweet potato fries, satisfied several tastes and textures in one dish.
And Mike’s hot dogs ($3-$4) were eclectic, with toppings that ranged from cream cheese and maple bacon baked beans to slaw and kraut.
The Partnership set out folding tables and chairs for al fresco dining, but most everyone warmed an edge of a raised stone landscape bed, or took their carryout back to the workplace.
There was little for the vegetarian in the mix, prompting one woman to complain that her options were limited to “three kinds of french fries.” Christians had a grilled cheese ($2) on its menu, and Haute Wheels offered a caprese sandwich with basil, mozzarella and tomato ($6.50).
All three accept credit cards.
This week the lineup is Royal Kabob, The Food Truck and Willy Dog.
Weekend, Pages 31 on 04/19/2012