Munch Monday 2011: Mobile food fleet hits SR

UPDATE: Wooooohhhh! That was fun!
Crowds were huge at the first event and there was tons of great food, including steamed bbq pork buns, agedashi, hot dogs, whoopie pies, burritos, New Orleans pasta (which looked so good), burgers, crab sandwiches and carne asada fries! Can’t wait for next week. (PS. The Karma bistro truck got sideswiped, so wasn’t there, but will hopefully be there next week after a few repairs!)

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Here come the trucks!

Beginning Monday, January 10, 2011 from 11:30am until 2pm, six gourmet mobile vendors will pull into the E Street parking lot between the downtown post office and public library for lunch.

In the starting lineup: Street-eatz Mobile Kitchen, La Texanita Truck (from La Texanita Restaurant), Chicago Style Hot Dogs, Karma Bistro, Fork Catering and Napa’s Dim Sum Charlie’s. Plans are to rotate and introduce other local vendors over the coming months. The lineup is currently managed by Jillian Dorman (Street-eatz) and Jeff Tyler (Chicago Style Hot Dogs). All of the trucks must be fully permitted and carry insurance to participate.

“Since last March with the launch of the Street-eatz truck doing lunches each day, the number of trucks, carts and/or trailers is growing nicely. Several times a week I am contacted by some one who wants to give it a shot. We’re on our way, building a terrific reputation for great quality, Sonoma style mobile eats and standing out in this huge trend,”said Dorman, who has mentored several newcomers to the local food truck business.

Although some brick and mortars have already expressed concern over increased competition, Eat Fleeters plan to talk to local business owners to explain their plans and discuss ways for everyone to benefit from the excitement and potential increased foot traffic to downtown.

The event will be weekly through at least the end of February.

Several of the Sonoma trucks in the Munch Monday fleet also participate in Food Truck Friday, a weekly round-up in Napa (near the Oxbow Market) that also includes Marks the Spot,Cochon Volant BBQ (the former La Poste chef), Phat Salads and Karas Cupcakes.

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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29 Comments

  1. Maybe Santa Rosa should focus more on KEEPING the “Brick & Mortar” restaurants afloat.

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  2. Michelle lost me in her snootiness when she kept saying “SoCo”…Get over yourself. Food trucks serving this kind of fare have their place in this area just as the French Laundry (which I’m SURE you’re a regular at) does.

    Street Eatz is fantastic and the Chicago Hot Dog guys have some AMAZING hotdogs (sorry Heather!). And from what I hear from some co-workers, Karma has some great food as well. La Texanita goes without saying…They’ve BEEN the best.

    I’d love to try the Dim Sum and Fork, but they’re not on the “tour” near my job. Maybe one of these days a few of us will venture on over on a Monday.

    On a last note, believe it or not food trucks are usually MORE scrutinized by the health department than your normal “brick and mortar” restaurants. I know it’s tough for some of you whine country people to believe but it’s true!

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  3. The burger I had from The Fork truck today has the beef sources from (I can’t remember! If it wasn’t Niman, it was some other well-respected ranch), topped with a fabulous tomato-pancetta chutney and arugula. The roll was perfect as well. I’d call it a gourmet burger – no question. The grilled cheese was with Framani ham and the also had a crab samdwich. Any of those you could imagine on a high end brick-and-mortar restaurant. Don’t knock the gourmet aspect unless you see the menu yourself and try the food yourself. What a wonderful addition this is to Mondays!

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  4. If the Karma Bistro got sideswiped does that mean they hit someone previously?

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  5. I see the word “gourmet” used here, once by Heather and by other posters. What does it take to qualify being referred to as “gourmet”?
    thanks

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    • “Gourmet” is a term used by some of the local vendors to differentiate themselves from the typical taco trucks. I’ve been calling them Trucks 2.0 (I’m not a huge fan of “gourmet”), because many of them use organic, seasonal ingredients; are trained chefs or serve up unique foods (agedashi, dim sum, etc) that you wouldn’t typically find on old school trucks.

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      • ?
        Since you brought up “typical taco trucks”, how would one of them qualify as ‘gourmet’? or better yet, what makes them ‘non-gourmet’? There is a picture of a jazzed up hotdog and an order of a dim sum order in the photo gallery. I know that taco trucks are commonplace, but strictly on a food level there is little difference between the ingredients of those dishes and an al pastor taco, no?

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        • I guess this starts getting into a pretty philosophical discussion — some of which I’ve given thought to and some of which I haven’t.

          I’ve asked myself a number of times what would happen if a typical Sebastopol Rd. taco truck pulled up next to one of the “gourmet” trucks and what the true difference is. Frankly, the both rock in their own way, but the menus (for the most part) aren’t that similar. I’m assuming that you haven’t spent much time hanging with the Street Eatz/Fork/Dim Sum Charlie’s folks…but I can tell you that their menus have stuff like agedashi, steamed pork buns, curry, grassfed beef, and lots of fusion-y dishes. I’ve written pretty extensively about their menus http://www.biteclubeats.com/2010/10/street-food.html

          In this week’s lineup, you’ll also find the La Texanita truck, which does serve somewhat “usual” taco truck fare in name, but if you know La Texanita, you also know that Alma is anything but typical. Her food is amazing. So yeah, I would consider La Texanita “gourmet” — or at least in a class of its own — in terms of latin street food around here.

          The Chicago hot dog guy I wouldn’t qualify as gourmet, but he does some pretty terrific dogs (from what I hear…I’m mentally allergic to hot dogs) and some “gourmet” versions on occasion with wine and onions and such. Seriously…people go nuts about his dogs.

          Karma is doing some great Indian food that, at least to me, has a kind of fusion-y, funky quality to it. It doesn’t feel like the usual butter chicken and rice fare.

          That’s just a quick stream of consciousness as I’m trying to finish another story on deadline, but overall, what is important here is that it’s something new and different for downtown. Gourmet or no…I’m not sure.

          I just like that they’re new options and creative ideas in food, which I support in whatever manner they are presented.

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  6. The gourmet food trucks we have have AWESOME, AFFORDABLE eats! YUMMY! I track these people on Facebook, just so I know where I can get a rockin lunch. I consider myself a locavor and in keeping with that help support the local people who make great eats! I work in Rohnert Park and travel to Santa Rosa or Sebastopol (on lunch) for their food.

    YAY! I am so excited that we have Gourmet Food trucks out there…we will have to come up with a new name, they are no longer just taco trucks…

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  7. Obviously Michelle is in the minority. Real foodies appreciate the food trucks. They are awsome and very clean, by the way. My husband is a chef and I am Spanish and Colombian and appreciate all these great different cuisines that come in different forms, whether a formal, sitdown restaurant or a food truck. They are all amazing and Food network even has a great competition show with these food trucks. Funny, Thomas Keller of the French Laundry has said nothing but positive things to about these food trucks popping up all over the country. The Oxbow Market in Napa also has a new night dedicated to these awsome entrepreneurs. Get over it Michelle, you just sound like a food snob who is ignorant to different cuisines.

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  8. Hope they hang out around the JC sometime. The eateries around the JC get tiring and the campus food is not very good.

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  9. It’s about time!!! You have my support. Have been wanting something like this ever since I saw the carts in Portland. Awesome!

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  10. Do they all have business licenses like the brick and mortar eateries have to have? Are they inspected by the health department.? If the answer to either one of these questions is NO, I’ll spend my money elsewhere.

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  11. Do the trucks provide restrooms, or do they figure that the brick and mortar restaurants will welcome them to use their facilities without patronage??

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  12. As a consumer, I like the mobile units. Quick and inexpensive. The Chicago Hotdog cart is the effing bomb! Best hot dog ever. But if I owned a restaurant in that area, I would be majorly ticked off. Cause no matter how you spin it, a meal sold at a cart is a meal not sold in one of the many fine DT restaurants. I can understand the after-hours motive of being DT, but why be there and compete with the restaurants. You’re mobile…go where there are people and no restaurants. I don’t see this the restaurants tolerating this for long…

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    • So, the deal is that the city of santa rosa is running a concurrent campaign billing it as “sit down” or “stand up” Munch Monday — the mobile vendors are there one day a week for “stand up” dining. The city is also promoting “sit down” dining at the local restaurants for executive lunches. In talking to the mobile folks, most of the downtown restaurants are actually pretty on board. There was a lot of discussion before hand to try and extend an olive branch and talk it out — from what I heard, they have offered to have discount coupons and ads for the restaurants at Munch Monday.

      I hope that as a city we can embrace new ideas.

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  13. Boo and Hiss to Michelle!!! Mobile vendors are a FANTASTIC idea. I am a 44 year resident of Sebastopol. Not everyone in Sonoma county is a (pretend) foodie snob who has to have a “pairing” with every “wine country specialty” Bring on the vendors–WELCOME!!

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  14. This is great. I hope it becomes the foundation for a downtown outdoor food court. There are many creative cooks in Sonoma County looking for a chance to show their wares.

    Is it every Monday for awhile?

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  15. What time does the event start?

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    • The event starts today at 11:30am & goes until 2:00pm (every Monday)

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  16. What a huge disappointment – really…?? Mobile TRUCK food is now a representative of SoCo food? I’ve eaten at a few “good” ones, but in no way should this be “celebrated” as our local cuisine. And before you all boo and hiss me, I am married (20 years) into a latin (Spain) family. Anthony Boudain did an episode dedicated to San Francisco’s dining – and a small portion of it was dedicated to a food truck out of Oakland, out of all the restaurants to chose from and he picks THAT….STUPID!!! I take great pride in ALL of our local and Mom & Pop resaurants here in SoCo…but I draw the line at MOBILE TRUCKS being anything near representative of our wine country specialties. But in good spirit, I also want to say “Whatever.”

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    • Hi Michelle, I have worked very hard to build my truck and business that is mom and pop. I hope you try us one day and see that we are not “stupid” but indeed a small family business ourselves. It is all about working together and it is just a different business model altogether than dining at a restaurant. Have a nice holiday and we do hope you give us a chance. Sarah Piccolo

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    • Keep in mind that many of these trucks are operated by trained chefs who have worked in Wine Country restaurants (and in some cases even owned them). In this economy, it’s near impossible to start a brick and mortar restaurant — especially one that takes any kind of chances with bold new concepts.

      And while even a truck has some serious investment costs, it is a more attainable goal.

      The great news for us: Trucks are an incubator for new ideas — much like the internet — where people can try things and see if they work without the same kinds of financial risks.

      Wine Country dining in many ways has become predictable. I lament daily that many menus just seem to repeat the same “safe” foods that I’ve seen a thousand times. And I don’t blame chefs and restaurants for not wanting to take huge risks that may end up not working out. It’s a huge gamble.

      I hope that we’ll see entrepreneurs gain success on a small scale and then (as is happening elsewhere), move into a more permanent operation after proving their craft and gaining an audience.

      It doesn’t have to be an either or. We are so ridiculously lucky to have both.

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  17. Finally! How long have we been waiting for this?? :) I cannot wait!!

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  18. This will be GREAT for us downtown workers. A nice walk to build an appetite and settle the tummy afterwards. Can’t wait!

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  19. We need these food trucks up here by the Airport business parks!

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    • Matchbox Diner pulls up everyday in the Airport business area on Brickway Blvd in front of the VA building.

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    • Street Eatz comes up by the Airport. Find them on Facebook and they post when and where they are going to be.

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