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Brand-new L’es-Car-Go; photography by Shannon O’Hara

Food Trucks, the Sequel!

by Dotty Griffith | Houston magazine | May 29, 2012

Even art critics are now taking H-Town food trucks seriously. The MFA and the Smithsonian, no less! This gourmet-grub trend is definitely shifting into overdrive.

The MFA says it now showcases a “curated selection” of the city’s “finest mobile food sources” daily. That means fruckies—food truck groupies—can get lunch every day from a cutting-edge food truck parked next to the rarefied serenity of the sculpture garden. MFA’s Linda Kuykendall says purveyors—including Phamily Bites (phamilybites.com), famous for its Vietnamese sandwiches, and Ladybird, with locally sourced upscale comfort food—are selected “to represent Houston’s incredibly culturally diverse... community.”

And Smithsonian Magazine recently announced its list of “the 20 best food trucks in America.” That includes Coreanos (coreanostx.com), famed for serving the unexpected fusion of Korean barbecue with the flavors of Mexico; it ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 8 in the nation. Originating in Austin, the second truck in the fleet began prowling H-Town’s streets in March.

The popularity of the food truck—so far the 21st century’s most significant dining trend, thanks in part to Facebook and Twitter allowing fans to locate their favorite moveable feasts hour by hour—is now quantifiable in Houston. More than 1,400 food trucks cruise Houston, says UH marketing lecturer Paul Galvani, who produces the Houston’s Top 100 Food Trucks website (houstonstop100foodtrucks.com). Food trucks are so hot here that some 5,000 fruckies flocked to the second annual Haute Wheels festival just last month on the HCC Southwest campus, to sample from trucks with cuisines ranging from fine French to barbecue.

Some food trucks have done so well they’ve cloned themselves as traditional restaurants. (You may remember the quaint concept of the traditional restaurant, in the same place, all day, every day?) For example, the hit Eatsie Boys (eatsieboys.com) outfit—specializing in sandwiches, particularly pork—has plans to expand to the old Kraftsmen Baking on Montrose. And Green Seed Vegan (713.487.8346, greenseedvegan.com), with its juices and raw-plant-based dishes, has also gone brick-and-mortar, at 4320 Almeda Road.

The fruckie scene includes both classic standouts and new must-hits. The venerable Bernie’s Burger Bus (berniesburgerbus.com), known for its free-form Black Angus beef patties, hand-cut fries and roasted tomato garnish is arguably the best. Meanwhile, as one of the newest meals on wheels, the buzzy L’es-Car-Go (les-car-go.com) represents the rising bar for excellence. This mobile French kitchen from the owners of the Energy Corridor’s Bistro Provence restaurant, dares to serve escargot in fun new ways. Snails à la pita, anyone?

Taco trucks still rock. But vichyssoise is on a roll!