Mar 17, 2012
Kim Rivers

How to track the food trucks

As the food truck scene in Charlotte continues to grow, we wanted a way to let readers know more about them and where they’ll be.

So Observer database reporter Gavin Off came up with a way to show you, on a daily basis.

It’s called Charlotte Food Truck Tracker, and it’s an interactive map that will live at charlotteobserver.com/living. Each week, food truck operators will share their information with the Observer, and we’ll create a Google map that shows where those trucks plan to be, when they plan to be there, what they’ll be serving, and other details.

There’s a drop-down menu that you’ll use to choose the day you seek, and you’ll click on the pins to get additional information about particular places.

Food trucks and trailers have been a staple in New York, Los Angeles and other places (Portland, of course, and Austin; in fact, Zagat.com recently did a story called “Which U.S. City Has the Hottest Food Truck Scene?”) but they are definitely on the rise these days in other spots, from Philadelphia to Columbus, Ohio, to Hawaii.

Note: Trucks are mobile; trailers stay in the same place. Some cities’ scenes are mostly one or the other.

Here’s a little more about some of the trucks on our map. And you’ll be able to check out several from 5-9 tonight at “Food Truck Friday,” at Camden and Park avenues in South End:

• Grant Luckey runs Maki Taco with chef Buddy Budyasa, and it all began with Luckey’s predilection for ordering takeout Asian food, bringing it home and putting it into organic blue corn taco shells. That seemed marketable to the two of them, and they now offer a consistent menu (with some specials) of items such as panang steak tacos and build-your-own Pan-Asian tacos. Website: http://www.makitaco.com.

•  Roaming Fork, from Kelli Crisan, offers an eclectic lineup, from blackened fish tacos to something called the Ooey Gooey Grilled Cheese with pulled pork barbecue. It was a vote-getter in our recent sandwich tournament, though contest parameters meant it couldn’t be included (we’ll do barbecue another year). www.roamingfork.net.

• The SouthernCakeQueen (yes: all one word) is ’Emma Merisier, and the Mount Pleasant native calls her business “Charlotte’s first mobile cupcakery.” She also does brownies, cookies and more; the signature is a strawberry cupcake with fresh strawberries and pink buttercream. www.southerncakequeen.com.

• Chef Brian Seeley operates The Herban Legend (herban = urban), and draws from a myriad of international influences, Asian fusion to soul food and more. A recent special: A “tripletta panini”: ham, turkey, mortadella and Swiss cheese. On the web at www.theherbanlegend.com

•  The TIN Kitchen – described as a “freestyle” truck with offerings “primarily in the form of tacos” – is the work of chef de cuisine Charlie Reid, chef/owner David Stuck and managing director/owner Nick Lischerong. It shares a commercial kitchen with other area chefs, aims to work with local farmers when possible, and offers seasonal specials.

Reid was in the first graduating class in Charlotte from Johnson Wales, has worked at Per Se in New York and Upstream in Charlotte, and served as an executive chef for Bank of America. Stuck, a Cordon Bleu grad, has worked at upscale places on both coasts, while Lischerong has a business background and handles that side for TIN, whose website is http://www.thetinkitchen.com.

•  Wingzza serves wings and pizza (get it?) and appeared in the Cooking Channel special “Pizza Outside the Box.” Among its offerings is a Buffalo chicken pizza and seven flavors of wings; the website is www.WingzzaTruck.com.

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