Had enough street food news yet? Didn’t think so! Last Tuesday night was the premier of the Howell Mill Food Park (facebook/twitter), Atlanta’s newest food truck gathering spot. HM Food Park kicked things off with a full lineup that included Tamale Queen, The Mobile Marlay, Yumbii, Sweet Auburn Barbecue, Yum Yum Cupcakes, Hail Caesar, Westside Creamery, Slider U, Munch, The Pup Truck, The King of Pops, and the upscale vagabond Sugar-Coated Radical. The new venture is currently set to be a weekly endeavor with a rotating caste of participants. Better yet, if they can gain enough traction, the Howell Mill Food Park is hoping to be a mainstay as a daily operation.
Oh, and before we get too far into this, it should be known that I didn’t suddenly go all DSLR like Jimmy or instantaneously morph into Smetko. No, the reasons these pictures look so silky smooth is on account of one Laura Polmear. She did some hunting around the festival and was kind enough to provide Foodie Buddha with the kick ass shots. Heck, she even grabbed a shot of that lamb gyro I got to sample (more on that in a bit). Anywho, if you’d like to see the full scope of her skills, check out the Flickr Howell Mill Food Park set and then look at her blog. But I digress …
Back on task, Tuesday’s event took place in a corner parking lot behind the Howell Mill Willy’s (1927 Emery Street, 30318). It’s a permanent location and I have been told that there are plans to make a few adjustments to the getup. Still, despite no pool, no putting range, and no club house, Atlanta’s trendsetting foodistas showed no sign of letting this event pass them by.
From a logistics perspective, I gotta say HM Food Park was damn good for a debut. Though parking caused a bit of a ruckus, I hear that one woman running teams were able to get in and out with no trouble. Most of the other potential pitfalls were fairly innocuous. There were a couple of picnic tables on site, which I’m sure the Buckhead mommies appreciated; but, I would like to have seen some recycle bins and a few more waste receptacles. Most importantly, the organizers did an awesome job of wrapping the food trucks such that there was plenty of room to walk around, even when people showed up en masse.
Suffice it to say, for everything the organizers did right … the food trucks, save for a couple of examples, should be FUCKING ASHAMED of themselves. Food delivery times were downright pitiful and the windows of even the most experienced trucks were slamming shut so early, you’d think the crowd must have instantaneously morphed into Door-To-Door salesmen. It was like the trucks were skrrreeeed.
First things first: there are some cooking prohibitions in place in Fulton county. The short of the long is that everything must be cooked by the time it hits the truck (you can heat stuff up – but no throwing raw meat on the grill). While that needs to change, the one benefit to the grubbers is that the food should take less time to prepare. If a truck can’t put out more than 20 tickets an hour … they need a new business. Wait times at the freaking ice cream truck were running 20 minutes. Unless evolution in the ice cream business has actually impeded productivity … I fail to see how an order, money exchange, and a scooping or two should take more than 2 minutes (and that’s generous). Save for the Tamale Queen, the still drying Hail Caesar, and a few others, most everyone was just plain SLOOOWWWWW.
The second strike for these trucks was the piss poor job of planning they did. There’s no way in hell that the majority of these trucks were fast enough with the service to run out of food that quickly. While individual menu items were already marked off the board by the time I strutted in, and most of them ran out of EVERYTHING after two hours. And by 8:30pm, shizzle … it looked like a food truck graveyard. Of course, those that know what the hell they are doing (see: @theKingOfPops), were smart enough to salvage the situation by calling in for reinforcements. Yeah, it’s not fair to compare a pop truck to a full service restaurant on wheels, but business is business and if your job is to be a mobile food truck … learn to make it happen. Heck, Yumbii, who should know what they are doing by now, ran out super early. Not more than a half-mile from Hankook Taqueria (who provides the food), it baffles me that they didn’t (or perhaps wouldn’t) get more food. Trust me … I’m not alone in my frustration on this.
So yeah, it’s a shame when there isn’t really any food at a food festival … but at least there is hope for the future. And since the rest of it was pretty darn smooth, I’d say things are looking up for the event. Anyway, onto the good stuff …
Here’s a lamb gyro from Hail Caesar (fb), a super friendly health conscious outfit. Open less than two weeks, it didn’t knock my socks off on account of the crumbly pitta and the sliced lamb, but full of super fresh ingredients and a smile. So though as good as Café Agora’s, but at $8 and served on a full plate with two sides, it was one of the better values there. Ingredients were super fresh and it totally fights in the concept. Favorite part was the cucumbers and radish (see upper left). Wouldn’t mind seeing it priced at $6.50 or $7.00 in the absence of a drink.
I still haven’t sampled Westside Creamery (mostly cuz I’m not a sweets guy), but this dude sure did seem to dig it!
Funky confections courtesy of the Radical gang. I actually did score one of these … think it was quinoa but maybe I just heard the dude wrong. More importantly is that the best, most excited, shit eating grin you’ve ever seen on a food dude? That type of joy is infectious!
A couple of sliders from the soon to launch Slider U [web/fb], a Happy-Valley truck chain. I believe this was the pulled pork and cheeseburger. When I got there, they were down to just their cheeseburger. As with this one, the cheese product didn’t melt. My bun was a little stiff, they were $2.75 a pop (or $6.99/3), and the wait was like five minutes … so hmmph. The price is right at $2. A first impression for sure – better than some of the crap I’ve had from other food trucks, but nothing drive-worthy. Will certainly give them another spin.
In my weak attempt to be the Mark Twain of picture titles, I call this “Don’t Bother Me, I’m Eating.” No word from Polmear as to whether the name stays … but I think I captured it. Courtesy of Yum Yum (@YumYumCupcake), this dude seems satiated and then some. Of course – no thoughts on YY … I don’t do sweets.
There’s a lot more to say, but let’s just wrap it with this! Young folk kicking it college style, I suspect on the grass bank just beyond the food park!