Food Truck Festival Review - A Fun Twist on Lunch

 

A delicious pulled pork sandwich from Porkchop food truck

 

Food trucks are a rapidly growing trend; across the country, these miniature restaurants on wheels are selling everything from Asian fusion tacos to gourmet donuts to hungry customers on the street. Although food trucks have long been popular in warmer climates like Los Angeles and Texas, where ordering and eating food outdoors is more appealing, it is only in recent years that this foodie phenomenon has caught on in Chicago.

 

Foodtrucks arrayed in Daley plaza

 

Helping to promote Chicago food trucks is the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which organized this year’s Food Truck Festivals. These festivals, which take place weekly at Daley Plaza and monthly at Willis Tower, provide an opportunity for food trucks to gain exposure by operating in a public space, rather than private, and for the general public to experience the wide variety of food trucks that the city has to offer. Now in its second year, the festival features new extended hours and boutique trucks, which sell clothing, shoes, and other non-food items. Convenient locations in the heart of downtown Chicago make this an ideal lunch stop for the nine-to-five crowd.

 

Customers wait in line for the Bruges Brothers food truck in spite of inclement weather

 

Some of the food trucks are self-contained operations, while others are connected to brick-and-mortar restaurants. One such restaurant is Porkchop, which in addition to its six locations around the city, has a popular food truck that participates in the festivals. Specializing in Southern food with a particular emphasis on barbeque, Porkchop’s food truck menu features a selection of their most popular items, including macaroni and cheese, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, and ribs.

 

Porkchop food truck

Cornbread, pulled pork, and ribs from Porkchop food truck

 

Unfortunately, when I visited on Friday, the weather was less than cooperative, with cold winds and alternating rain and snow putting a bit of a damper on the food truck scene. Still, it is a testament to the popularity of the food trucks that people turned out in spite of the weather. It is easy to imagine that on a sunny day, the plaza would be filled with hungry office workers in search of a change from their usual lunch fare.

 

The license plate of Porkchop food truck

 

In addition to Porkchop, I had a chance to sample food from a new food truck called Mimi’s Chicago Humble Pie, which serves tasty Chicago-style deep dish that puts New York thin crust to shame. They also feature bruschetta that is delightfully fresh, if a little too saturated with oil.

 

A little rain didn't stop this bruschetta and pizza from Mimi's Chicago Humble Pie from tasting delicious

 

My favorite food of the afternoon, however, was the döner box from Dönermen, a German food truck featuring a blending of German and other international flavors. The döner box is a fascinating experiment in layers; underneath exquisitely seasoned grilled chicken and tzatziki sauce is a bed of salad and vegetables atop a layer of French fries. The combination of favors sounds bizarre, but it is hard evidence of the creativity of food truck chefs that this dish works as well as it does.

 

A döner box from Dönermen

 

The Food Truck Festival has something for every taste. Whether you’re looking to try out a new type of cuisine or re-sample an old favorite, I highly recommend you make your way to one of the festival’s two locations to experience the exciting variety of food trucks the windy city has to offer.

 

Daley Plaza Dates: April 8, 15, 21; May 6, 11, 27; June 3, 10, 17, 21; July 1, 6, 15, 29; August 5, 12, 19, 22; September 2, 9, 16, 21, 30; October 7, 14 and 26.

Willis Tower Dates: April 29, May 20, June 30, July 22, August 31, September 23, and October 21.

Trucks are open from 11am to 3pm.

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