Photo by Tiffany RanLex Petras spent 20 years behind the bar and working front of the house at local restaurants before crossing the line to attend culinary school at the Cordon Bleu and entering the kitchens of the erstwhile Artisinal, Picnic, and Bar del Corso. Today, Petras is the owner and purveyor of sin at Tacos de la Noche, a cozy taco stand next to Belltown Billards. More often considered the stop for late night street food, Petras recently started lunch service at Tacos de la Noche, but for Petras, staying out late has kept things interesting.
How did you come to set up shop in this little space?
I know the guy that has Belltown Billards. I go way back. I worked at the Queen City Grill and he owns part of the Queen City Grill, so I knew it existed. I talked with him and he was opened to the idea. I went in and we came up with some drawings. He was cool with what I did. I built him a storage space to make up for what he was using it for, and there it was. That was it.
I was looking to do something in the neighborhood there. It’s got too many hot dog stands over there. The location made sense, and I love street food. I talked to Oscar [Montejano], who runs the Queen City Grill kitchen and we came up with a few menu items that seem to work.
What would be your ideal street food meal?
Wow, there’s a lot. I’d actually like to have the taco shop to [offer] even more authentic Mexican street food. I don’t know if I have the space in the place I have now, but I’m looking at that. I’m going to try and add some soups to the menu.
Ideal street food though, I always love a doner kabob. I had that in Germany. There’s just so much. It’s always meat on a stick with some bread. I’m happy with just a good sausage and some mustard.
Do you see a lot of interesting things during those late night hours?
Some people imbibe a bit, maybe they shouldn’t. I’ve been asked by several people to get a little camera and do a live feed, post some Youtube videos. There’s some funny stuff that happens out there. Women have a hard time with high heels in the rain on the slope. There are some damaged knees.
I do get to see Phoenix Jones quite a bit. He’s the guy that dresses up like the superhero and actually fights real crime. So he runs by often with his band of merry men. The really late night stuff, when it gets to be 3am, it’s doormen, security guards, and bartenders after they’ve finally wrapped up their shop. I get a collection of the restaurant scene, and a bunch of big guys who’ll protect me if things go bad, so that’s always nice. There’s some wild stuff.
I do some hot sauces. There’s the seven that I have and they’re named after the seven deadly sins. Wrath is the hottest. It’s made with ghost chilies. A lot of people come and ask for the hottest and I have to warn them, and they say things like, “Oh, I’m Mexican,” or “I’m Indian. It’s not a problem,” and then they end up crying on their knees in the street. It’s really, really hot.
It started as 14, 15, or 16 and I wittled it down to the ones that I wanted. It’s also quite a bit of sauce making. It’s a once a week process. Some people told me just to have two, but I like to have a bit of variety. I got down to seven and I was trying to figure out how to name them. The deadly sins just seemed right because it was a late night operation. There’s a lot of sin happening in the wee hours there.
You worked front of the house for some time, but what led you to want to start cooking?
I’ve always been in between. I’ve always hung out with both sides. I’m interested in food. I like to cook. I’ve always been that type of guy where if the night is slow, I’d go back there and knock out some shallots. I’ve always been hands on that way.
Since you’ve worked as both a bartender and a cook, do you prefer one over the other?
I like ‘em both. I really live and breathe the restaurant idea. It’s really more than a job. I enjoy it. I like the lifestyle. I like getting there early before it opens and knocking out a little egg dish if you’re in a restaurant that doesn’t serve an egg dish, and winding down afterwards. I like the back of the house, the production side, and I like the service end.
So when you’re sitting at the bar, what’s your drink of choice?
I’m a wine drinker. I like [wine from] the Loire River Valley from Northern France, either the red cab franc or the white sauvignon blanc, and I like to drink those at Bar Ferd’nand at the Melrose Market.
90 Blanchard St., Seattle, WA
Two trucks come to Vistaprint in Lexington every other Wednesday, and the online marketing services provider springs for all the tacos, hot dogs, and Korean barbecue noodle bowls the employees can eat.
It is frustrating when a good idea goes ignored for years. If only the world were paying attention, you say to yourself, they’d all be on board. Toda la bola.
I always felt that way about the taco truck.
When I was a kid, we had a neighbor, a la otra cuadra, who made his living selling food from the shiny chrome kitchen that sat on the back of his truck. My brother and I played with the family’s kids, and during one Saturday afternoon soccer tournament, our families shared some really tasty tacos and sandwiches. We weren’t really tight, but I remember their truck being a presence in our neighborhood; the big blocky truck sat in the family’s driveway, just like my dad’s blue and white Super Cab sat in ours, every day after the workday was done. It was out there for years.
I was fascinated by the truck; I remember driving past their home and thinking about how cool their truck was, and how cool it was to be able to bring lunch to people por todos lados every day.
It was years before I heard one of the meaner neighborhood kids refer to a food truck as a roach coach. And as I got older, I realized that not everyone shared my fascination. Were the eats safe? Did they have anything other than tacos, Lucas candy, chamoy, pickles and Fritos? Was the lack of running water and a standing water fixture going to be a problem?
That was not fair.
It also was a long time ago. Y cómo cambian las cosas, no?
Today, I think of that neighbor’s truck every time I drive past a food truck park. I’ve read about how tough economic times helped start the ignition on the new wave of food trucks. I’ve heard about the incredible gourmet meals from food trucks that my friends have dined on, although today I guess they call them mobile kitchens. Frankly, I’ve been surprised to see area hipsters embrace the idea that one really can get good eats on wheels.
What I haven’t heard in a while are the words “roach coach.”
Along with gourmet meals served on paper baskets and wrapped in foil squares, here’s what we can take away from modern food trucks: They are a great idea. But they also were a great idea years ago. And I’d like to think that the man with big blocky truck down the street knew that.
I hope those budding chefs in the mobile kitchens know who paved the road for them. And the idea that they might not is one I find frustrating.
Taking place on Wednesday, October 31st at the historic Steam Whistle Brewery in downtown Toronto, the ‘Dia De Los Muertos Pop-up Festival’ brings the sights and sounds of traditional Mexican Day of the Dead festivities and remixes it with a little Toronto multicultural flare! With space limited to 500 guests, the ‘Dia De Los Muertos Pop-up Festival’ is sure to be one of the most sought after tickets this Halloween!
Night Market of the Living Dead
The ‘Dia De Los Muertos Festival’ will bring together a host of food vendors doing everything from traditional Mexican street food, to Asian-inspired tacos, to the best in night market fare from across the globe. There will also be Day of the Dead decor, traditional Mexican sugar skulls for sale, a mariachi band and a few additional surprises—but you’ll have to buy a ticket to find out what they’ll be!
$10 general admission tickets for the Food Truck Eats ‘Dia De Los Muertos Pop-up Festival’ will go on sale Monday, October 15th http://foodtruckeats.ca
With trendy food trucks proliferating in New York City, officials have become increasingly concerned that the restaurants-on-wheels could bring consequences far more serious than the ones produced by mice droppings and unlicensed vendors.
According to a document obtained by Public Intelligence, the FDNY believes food trucks also serve as attractive breeding grounds for terrorist activities.
In the report, “Food Trucks: A Transient Hazard,” the FDNY notes 3,100 trucks permits have been issued this year alone, meaning terrorists could easily get their hands on a black market permit of their own.
The FDNY says trucks are actually an “excellent surveillance platform due to their access and long duration stays.”
The report also expresses concern that terrorists could pack popular trucks, stationed in “high profile” locations, with explosives.
The recipe for the perfect terrorist plot? Who knows.
While it’s comforting to know the city is dedicated to its counterterrorism efforts– see, for example, last week’s foiled Federal Reserve terror plot– we can’t help but remember the city’s tendency to exaggerate terror threats.
So perhaps it’s best not to be too alarmed and we can all get back to chasing overpriced food trucks on Twitter, enjoying all the tacos, ice cream, dumplings, pizza and Korean burritos they have to offer.
Also on HuffPost:
Tavantzis, who attended the first night Friday, said customers quickly began lining up to order food at the sole vendor.
We had a few customers within the first few minutes, she said. The food was excellent. (The owner) was very, very excited.
Tavantzis attributed the minimal amount of food trucks to a lack of awareness of the program among food truck owners.
About 15 spots are available along Peck Street.
On Friday, two truck owners drove by and showed interest in being a part of the program, Tavantzis said. One of those trucks serves Salvadoran food, she said, noting that the variety of food will be more than just tacos as the program expands.
I expect that, within time, it will be growing, she said.
The Watsonville City Council approved the project during its Oct. 9 meeting, agreeing to allow the food trucks to operate on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight for a three-month trial period.
For the complete article see the 10-23-2012 issue.
Melissa’s World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., will feature its Lime Truck on the expo floor during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Anaheim, Calif.
The Lime Truck is the second-season winner of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” program. It won the grand prize of $100,000 on the television show.
The owner of the truck, chef Daniel Shemtob, started his food truck business in 2010 in Irvine, Calif.; he now has four of the trucks.
At Melissa’s Fresh Summit booth, samples of veggie tacos will be handed out.
The Lime Truck uses produce from Melissa’s and is a partner with the company.
BUFFALO, NY - A internal senator wants to assistance a flourishing food lorry attention thrive.
State Senator Tim Kennedy wants a state to establish how most any city or city can charge. This comes after a food lorry debate in Amherst, where town codes concerning food trucks are now being written. And internal leaders contend he’s over-reaching.
For a discerning lunch mangle outward Roswell Park Cancer Institute, some folks contend zero beats Lloyd Taco Truck.
“I adore their tacos. Best tacos in town,” one lady said.
“I adore this place,” another male beamed.
There are large fans who wish to see some-more food trucks around, and Democratic State Senator Tim Kennedy is capitalizing on that sentiment. He proposes a state step in and extent a fees municipalities can assign mobile food vendors to only $250 a year.
Buffalo now charges $1,000 a year, and Kennedy says that is stunting a intensity expansion of a food lorry industry.
“What we’re perplexing to do is grow jobs in New York State. Grow jobs in western New York,” says Kennedy.
But Amherst Town Council Member Steve Sanders countered, “People eat as most as they eat. So possibly we go to a grill or we go to a food truck. The economy’s not going to grow some-more only since we put a food lorry right in front of their workplace or wherever they occur to be during lunchtime.”
Find a whole essay by Lou Raguse at wivb.com here
The first-ever Marietta Food Truck Rally was held Monday night at 218 Roswell St. near the square.
The Marietta Food Truck Rally will be back every Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Meeting Park development parking lot at 218 Roswell Street until the holidays hit.
What food trucks would you like to see at Marietta Food Truck Mondays? Tell us in the comments.
Smyrna Food Truck Tuesday’s feature their hometown Happy Belly Food Truck. King of Pops is another metro Atlanta favorite. The Yumbii food truck is no stranger to Cobb County, maybe they’ll bring some of their tasty tacos.
This Thompson dude knows where to get tacos at 2am–trust.
The FTC (ha!) can advise on the exact locations and cooking times of trucks across the city, and even help download a food truck app (theres that word again) to your iPhone (still no love for Android!). Now you can find the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, Tacos Morelos, and more with ease.
It gets better. The New York hotels have come up with a smattering of special Food Truck Lover’ offers.
Here are two we like:
Food Concierge Favorite Food Truck: Wafels Dinges
Weekend package rates at this Financial District hotel begin at $299 through March 31st 2013(subject to availability, blah blah), and include a welcome champagne cocktail and free WiFi.
Food Concierge Favorite Food Truck: TriBeCa Taco Truck
This package guarantees the Best Available Rate for that day, a Fat Witch Brownie welcome amenity, a free Thompson iPhone case and download of local food truck app, and complimentary WiFi.
These specials are bookable via www.thompsonhotels.com using code FOODTRUCK.
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