The variety and quality of food offered through mobile vendors continues to grow with the industry. Asheville alone has more than 60 food trucks offering everything from “farm to truck” cuisine to gourmet tacos.
That variety is starting to take shape in other western counties as well. Haywood County has several food trucks popping up — the El Lemon taco truck that rolls into town only on Saturday nights outside of R.E.O.’s in West Waynesville, Fat Belly’s in Canton offering an eclectic menu of Americana favorites and Blue Ridge BBQ offering one-of-a-kind spins on old time favorites.
“Just like any restaurant, you have to have a good product,” said Chuck Rector, owner of Blue Ridge BBQ.
His menu includes the traditional barbecue pork plates, but customers also enjoy his unique options like the brisket smash sandwich and the cornbread salad.
Over in Franklin, the chefs at A Fork in the Road food truck use fresh, local and in-season produce to change up their menu. Lindsay Kent and Jeff Southerland prepare tacos using Brasstown beef, local corn, Vidalia onions, cilantro and chipotle salsa. Another featured special has been a turkey wrap with local arugula, goat cheese, Florida cantaloupe and chipotle mayonnaise.
“We try to do mostly local and fresh as much as possible — we have a standard menu with a Brasstown beef burger, a Cuban sandwich or a veggie quesadilla,” Kent said. “We want to keep things tasty and appealing to everyone, we especially want food that goes well with beer.”
Food trucks and craft breweries have formed a close relationship that seems to be a successful partnership for both parties. Many craft breweries need a way to feed their customers without having a commercial kitchen while food trucks are usually desperately searching for a steady flow of foot traffic.
Blue Ridge BBQ sets up on the weekends at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville and Fat Belly’s has been invited to offer food at Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City. A Fork in the Road has found a happy home outside of Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin while Cosmic Carry-out has settled in at Innovation Brewing in Sylva.
Jennifer FitzSimons and Gadson Griffis of Cosmic Carryout said they keep their menu simple — cheese burgers, veggie burgers, fries and occasional specials like pork tacos or bratwurst subs.
“You have to have a small menu to focus on what you’re good at,” FitzSimons said. “We don’t advertise it as such but we’ve been told we have the best burgers.”
While Fat Belly’s just opened in Canton, owner Tina Tuten said she is receiving great feedback on the food, which includes a little bit of everything — burgers, many varieties of gourmet fries, Indian fried breads and a shrimp po’boy sandwich.
“Everyone is so excited to check out our menu,” she said. “I had 200 printed and now they are all gone.”
Food trucks don’t have big advertising budgets, but many of them rely on social media to keep their customers up-to-date on daily specials and locations for the day if they are moving around.