Found: Best Food Trucks in Sacramento

By Laura Braden and Amy Thoma

Some confusing news in the land of food trucks …

Last week Forbes released a list of “25 of the coolest food trucks“, and while peeps like San Francisco’s Nom Nom and Los Angeles’ Border Grill received shout outs, Sacramento was noticeable absent. (Guess which reporter just got added to my media list??)

But MobileCuisine.com also published an article last week of the “top 25 U.S. cities to open a food truck“, and Sacramento was ranked #10. The list was based on a number of factors including city population, weather, demographics, current size of the FT industry, licensing costs and acceptance of small business entrepreneurs by local politicians.

I would argue that the latter nod is much more substantial and telling for our local scene, but we wanted to offer Forbes and any other publication paying attention the following breakdown, as well as food trucks they should try during their next visit.

Food Trucks in Sacramento

A lot of us take for granted the presence of food trucks in Sacramento – including me. Before I wrote this article, I had no idea they faced so many limitations and constraints.

A brief history … In 2008, the Sacramento City Council enacted an ordinance placing crazy restrictions on food trucks. Example? Food trucks had to change their location every 30 minutes. From SN&R:

“There had been complaints, specifically from Councilwomen Bonnie Pannell and Sandy Sheedy’s districts: trucks blocking pedestrians and causing traffic, driving through neighborhoods late at night, parking in front of restaurants, littering, even allegedly selling plastic toy guns and cigarettes. As one council staffer put it, street vendors and food trucks were “turning the neighborhoods into Denio’s.”

And the fear of “roach coaches” was rampant – but unfounded:

“Supervisor of environmental health Mark Barcellos issues food-vending permits for Sacramento County. “In my 15 years, we’ve only closed one truck for actually having roaches on the truck,” he says. “So either the roaches don’t like it on there, or [owners] keep them clean.””

But in 2011, the food truck world starting fighting back. Bloggers, entrepreneurs and foodies started campaigning to change the perception and laws associated with food trucks.

It looked like there might be an agreement with City Hall over the summer of 2012, but negotiations grinded to a halt … Largely because of fuzzy rumors that the State was going to enact statewide regulations. What’s worse, Elk Grove seized the opportunity and approved a new ordinance in September 2012 that made it easier for food trucks to expand their operations. Ugh.

Some are hopeful that change is around the corner, and I think this is one of those cases where Sacramento needs to get with the times and change the ordinance – ASAP. If cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco can create symbiotic relationships between brick & mortar restaurants and food trucks … why can’t we?

In the meantime, and despite the constraints, food trucks continue to grow and thrive around Sacramento. In fact, the Sacramento County Department of Airports recently asked for bids “from mobile food concession operators to provide breakfast, lunch and/or dinner to hungry customers in the free waiting area, also known as the cell phone lot. If business takes off, food truck services may be expanded to the rental car facility.” Not sure if there’s enough people waiting in the cell phone lots to make this viable, but two thumbs up to the airport for trying.

Our Favorite Food Trucks in Sacramento

TIP: Follow your favorites on Facebook and Twitter to track their daily location. And ALL provide catering for private events, weddings, etc.

Amy’s favorites…

Krush Burger (Facebook, Twitter) serves sliders in a variety of flavors. The mini burgers are always delicious and I love that they use high-quality meat but I always go crazy for the sweet potato tots. How could you not? Menu: $3.95-7.50.

Fuzion Eatz (Facebook) is a slightly healthy truck that serves mostly gyros, salads and other sandwich type items. I’ve always found their ingredients fresh and flavorful. I’m always looking for a healthy alternative to the usual burgers and fries. Try the gyro with rosemary and lamb.

Laura’s favorites…

VolksWaffle (Facebook, Twitter) offers dough-based (not batter) waffles that you can smother with ice cream, Nutella, strawberries and/or whipped cream. I’m more of a savory than sweets gal, but the smell coming off this truck at the Midtown Farmers Market literally made my mouth water … And the taste lived up to the smell. “OMG, it tastes like Brussels!” I proclaimed through my half-swallowed bite. The owner laughed and said that it should – considering he gets the dough from his family’s company in Europe. In fact, the dough has sugar crystal balls that caramelize as the waffle cooks. They also get extra points for having one of the cutest trucks in a town – a bright red, vintage VW bus (see picture at the top). Menu: $4.75.

Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen (Facebook, Twitter) offers amazing, fancy bar food where grilled sandwiches (with lots of cheese!) are the focus. My fave is the Hemi sandwich (slow roasted pork, mac’n’cheese, grilled onions, cheddar cheese and grilled on sliced french bread). And don’t forget the tater tots – you won’t be disappointed. Menu: $3-7.50.

Wicked ‘wich (Facebook, Twitter) prides themselves on using organic and local ingredients (#Farm2Fork), as well as vegan options. My fave is the Miss Saigon (pulled pork, hand cut fries, pickled veggies, jalapenos & Vietnamese-citrus-caramel sauce). They also put  fries inside the sandwich, which is a nod to their East Coast roots. Be sure to check out their latest food truck concept – Sacatomatoes (Facebook, Twitter), which offers vegetarian, vegan and nose-to-tail eats. Menu: $8.75.

Big Red Bus – Streets of London (Facebook, Twitter) is the newest addition to Streets of London Pub. They offer a twist to English-style pub food” with a menu changes seasonly. My fave right now is the Bah Bah O’Reilly (Lamb Mince, Garlic, Carrots, Onion, Rosemary, English Peas, Bacon Mashers, English Cheddar Bread Crumbs). Menu: $7-10.

You’ll notice that taco trucks are absent from my list … that’s because I hate mexican food. (I know, I know, I’m a weird alien). For the best recommendations, check out here. Other than that, who am we forgetting? What’s your favorite food truck in Sacramento?

Other Resources

And the best place to find a food truck on any given evening? Track 7 Brewing Co. (3747 W Pacific Ave #F) (Facebook, Twitter), which is an amazing local brewery that is chill and kid/dog-friendly. (h/t Tracy Arnold)

If you’re passionate about food trucks, follow SactoMoFo (Facebook, Twitter), which has long championed the local food truck scene by producing “street food-centric events throughout the greater Sacramento region, to showcase their product, and their positive impact in our community.” And you should also follow SacFoodTrucks.net, which offers reviews/resources/calendar and Roaming Hunger, which tracks the current location of your favorite food trucks.

 

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