The food-truck revolution has infiltrated the North Bay. And we're all the fuller for it.
More than simple taco trucks, these are mobile eateries where trained chefs (often from top-notch restaurants) are waiting out the recession on four wheels. Call it Trucks 2.0, where you're as likely to find pork-belly sliders, wood-fired organic chicken, freshly steamed dim sum, haute macaroni and grass-fed burgers as lengua tacos and burritos.
They're pulling into business parks and downtown parking lots and rolling into events -- wherever the hungry masses can find them via Twitter, Facebook or text messages -- for a few hours of lovingly prepared food from the compactly efficient grills, steamers, fry vats and even wood-fired ovens of converted food trucks.
And though we're nowhere near the 700-plus trucks, carts, pods and stalls of food-truck obsessed Portland, Ore., or even the parade of trucks and buses forever circling San Francisco, these roaming restaurants all have a special Wine Country something, whether it's the use of ingredients from local farms and purveyors, a Sonoma County sensibility about organics or just a North Bay casualness that's ever so inviting. And though permitting has been challenging for many, cities and counties are quickly realizing the kind of excitement and vitality that a truck can bring to a destination. So here's to hoping they'll push some of the red tape aside and continue permitting new businesses in the future.
Here's a handy guide to who's rolling into your neighborhood:
Street Eatz & La Texanita (Santa Rosa)
More than a taco truck, less than a restaurant, the Street Eatz mobile kitchen is leading Sonoma County's food-truck brigade with globally inspired dishes (agedashi, fish 'n chips, tacos, pulled pork, curry, chile rellenos and the unbeatable carne asada fries).
Biz partners Jillian Dorman and Alma Mendez (of La Texanita) collaborated on the popular truck, which has been a mainstay at local events throughout the spring and summer. Street Eatz is also a frequent participant in some of San Francisco's bustling street-food events, including its "Off the Grid" event. The truck makes lunchtime stops throughout the week (Tesconi Circle, Aviation Boulevard, Revolution Moto) and has recently been granted permits for Friday and Saturday nights (6 p.m. to late) at Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square. You can find their complete schedule at street-eatz.com or follow them on Twitter or Facebook at StreetEatz.
The Street Eatz sister truck from La Texanita has begun rolling out as well, including most of the items you'll find at Alma's much-loved eponymous restaurant (Guy Fieri is a huge fan): Tacos, burritos and flautas with homemade tortillas and tasty meats like tongue and cabeza. The truck's been parking at the corner of Highway 116 and Lynch Road in Sebastopol for lunch and dinner and sharing the Friday and Saturday night spot with Street-Eatz.
Fork Catering (Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Occidental)
Fork, run by caterer Sarah Piccolo out of Sebastopol, embraces the local farm-to-table vibe, serving up Stornetta beef burgers on whole-wheat buns; a quinoa garbanzo bean burger, green chili mac and cheese, and salads bursting with veggies plucked from local patches. The converted Mother's cookie truck has been outfitted with a impressive kitchen and espresso set-up. You can find Sarah and her truck at a variety of public and private events (she's often at bicycle-related events), including stints at the Occidental farmers market and Dutton-Goldfield Winery, though she prefers to stay within 90 miles of her home turf in Sebastopol. Find the most recent locations on her Facebook page: Fork Catering