NOTE: The Syracuse Food Truck Association and No Excuses Syracuse are sponsoring weekly Food Truck Rodeos in the parking lot of the Cosmopolitan Building on West Fayette Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. Since that’s right around the corner from my office, I plan to make this my midweek lunch plan. As a service to you, dear reader, I’ll round them up and report back. The STFA has since added a Rodeo in the rear parking lot of Missio Church on West Genesee Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays. Depending on the week, you might catch me there “off the clock.”
Who made a repeat appearance?
Who was missing from previous weeks?
Was there music?
Previously, a classic rock radio station attended and played the same list of songs that the other classic rock radio station in town plays. They have since packed their bags for a misty mountain and won’t get fooled again like the riders on the storm that they are. (JARED’S NOTE: I admit, that was terrible.)
What was new?
The sun. It’s been overcast or rainy during the past two weeks. It was nice to see a crowd out there.
Toni and I rolled up around 12:15 p.m. and the parking lot was packed. The lines at The Chicken Bandit and That’s What’s Up were deep while the others seemed empty. I couldn’t figure out why until I went to order the combo plate at Oompa Loompyas. Only about half of the vendors take cards and just the first two take them without minimums. I see both sides of it. As a business, you lose 3 cents on the dollar to processing fees from each swipe. In a low-margin game, this is meaningful. Of course, as a consumer that rarely has cash on their person, I go from spending $4.85 on that $5 item to nothing at all.
We started at That’s What’s Up, the extremely colorful truck that promises American comfort food with a twist. Toni really liked her shrimp tacos from a couple of weeks back, and raved about the bison and beef sliders today. The mix of ground meat was fried on the truck’s plancha grill with melted cheddar, topped with caramelized onions and baby greens, and served on brioche buns. She was uncharacteristically quiet during lunch (it was a nice change), rarely coming up for air while eating. She said that she noticed a hint of balsamic vinegar in the greens, as if the greens had been tossed lightly in a vinaigrette.
I was less enamored with the paella. I was not sure what to expect, but this barely earned its name. From the best I can tell, yellow rice was fried with shaved Spanish chorizo, and topped with a cold olive-and-pepper giardiniera. For $5, I didn’t high expectations but even those were not met.
My refuge was the grilled PB&J from the PB&J Lunchbox. It’s just the perfect damn sandwich. Toni had the grilled cheese with spinach and tomato, which I failed to get a picture of before it disappeared. (SIDE NOTE: I realize that I make Toni sound like and undignified eater. I’m exaggerating here. She has never, to my knowledge, inhaled a tablecloth during lunch.)
I ended at The Chicken Bandit for a couple of tacos to take back to the office. The kitchen was doing its best to keep up with demand and this truck was busy from the moment we got there. It took more than 10 minutes to get two tacos and, twice during my wait, the guy at the window tried to give me someone else’s taco-less order. That said, they at least figured out a way to get orders to people who chose to sit down rather than stand and wait. They are the only truck using a bullhorn to call names. Ingenuity, right?
Words of compliment and/or grievance?
I did a lot of complaining in this review and it should be stated that everyone is entitled to an off day. I was also a little disappointed at the turnout. On the Rodeo of June and the first nice day in weeks, I would have expected more trucks but life gets in the way sometimes. And, I’ve said this before, but the people who have their games together continue to plug along consistently: Shattuck’s, Toss N Fire, The Chicken Bandit, Unity Coffee, PB&J…they are the models of consistency at these Rodeos and it shows in the loyalty of their respective fanbases.