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These Are The Best Food Trucks In Every Southeastern State


Gastro Gnomes/Facebook

Yesterday, we named the best Food trucks in each of the Northeastern states. As yet, the comments have not erupted into savagery and passive aggression, so we are forging ahead with this project, traveling south, and making some tough choices. It’s not an easy task.

We know that you are the reader here, and this experience should be about meeting your needs, but can you spare a minute to consider how difficult this is for us? First, try picking the best Food Truck out of an entire state. Then, try looking in your fridge for meal options when you just spent 6 hours combing through food porn of perfectly cooked burgers and tacos. One might say it is like staring into the abyss (well, if one were Nietzsche and he chose for some reason to use his own metaphor wrong).

To make this list, we sought out both undisputed champions of the food truck game and equally awesome but lesser known trucks. We narrowly avoided including a mobile restaurant that just sells ice cream sandwiches (it is AMAZING!). And, we started planning a trip to Kentucky (we’re gonna hit up the Great American Dollhouse Museum in Danville, so people won’t know we only went to the Bluegrass State to gorge ourselves on food trucks). And, we did it all for you, friends.

You certainly have food opinions, so leave us comments about these picks and give us your recommendations. And, check back tomorrow when we move on to the Midwest.

Katmandu MOMO/Facebook

West Virginia: Heirloom Mobile Kitchen (Huntington)

Frequently, food trucks define themselves with a specific food item, like the cupcake or the grilled cheese sandwich. In other instances, they stick to a type of cuisine or fusion of cuisines. Heirloom Mobile Kitchen hasn’t chosen either of these approaches. Instead, they’re characterized by their commitment to locally sourced food. Believing a farm to plate approach to be the correct ethical and economic decision for the community, the team behind this food truck aims to showcase the best that each Appalachian season has to offer diners.

Their menu rotates, depending on the produce and proteins they can source from West Virginia farmers. One week, some Gardner Farms’ turkey and local ursa kale joined fresh chilies, oyster mushrooms, and fennel in a nourishing winter herb broth to make Hunter’s Stew. On another, Terra Alta wheat flatbread became an accompaniment to local chicken wings coated with a sweet, sticky Moroccan harissa glaze and served with a side of preserved lemon mint yogurt and sprinkled with fresh pomegranate. Japanese, Korean, Mexican, and Vietnamese-inspired dishes have all made appearances.

Customers have also taken to referring to the truck’s local brown butter chocolate chip cookies studded with toasted pecans and finished with a sprinkle of JQ Dickinson salt as “their crack.” For those not from the region, JQ Dickinson are a 7th generation salt-making family that harvests the seasoning by hand in the Kanawha Velley of West Virginia. The cookie is mad local (but not low-cal).


Virginia: Boka Tako Truck (Richmond)

Chef Patrick Harris is a self-taught culinary all-star who came up through the ranks of some high-end restaurants in the DC area, before settling in as a chef for the Richmond Restaurant Group. In 2010, as food trucks were growing in popularity and culinary legitimacy, he founded The Boka Company, opening the original RVA gourmet food truck. Harris and Boka Tako truck have defined the local food truck community, coordinating the city’s first food truck courts and founding the Food Truck Association.

Virtually every local publication has lauded the truck and its tacos. The origin was a fusion of Asian inspiration and a Mexican platform, but the tacos have evolved. The truck still serves the basics, offering signature tacos made with chicken, pork, beef, or tofu. Customers choose one of three styles: Asian (sesame herbs, kimchi), Mexican (lime, cheese, chipotle crema), or American (sherry slaw, cheese, BBQ). If you order The Gauntlet, you get a beef Asian, a pork American, and a chicken Mexican taco. But, it is the specials and premium options that best illustrate why this truck serves the best the state has to offer. Try not to be impressed by the Cubano, a premium taco that layers Surry Heritage ham, swiss cheese, pulled pork, agave mustard, crispy shallots and house pickles.

There’s a reason the truck’s motto is “Takos with K, because these aren’t your ordinary tacos.”

Kentucky: Gastro Gnomes (Lexington)

In 2013, chef Andrew Suthers and chef Kyle Klatka set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money they needed to join the mobile kitchen scene. They felt the scene was lacking their creativity and dedication to fresh local ingredients. The pair consider their approach chef driven and “ad hoc,” meaning the menu changes daily depending on what’s available.

Burgers are served pretty consistently, and many agree that they make the best burger in the region. Every hamburger features a hefty patty, made with meat from Gravesland Meats in neighboring Georgetown, as well as house made condiments and local produce. Sometimes, the burgers are topped with double cream brie, baby spinach, and a rosemary roasted tomato compote. Other times, they are served up with candied bacon, pimento cheese, and pickled red onion. Last March, they sold one with a garlic and horseradish Dijon dressing, smoked Gouda, muenster, caramelized onions, and a fried egg.

The food is quality, but it’s also some of the most imaginative around. Their 4/20 menu was revelatory. Inspired by the “holiday,” they served funnel cake battered chicken wings with maple butter and a Fruit Loop cereal milk panna cotta, as well as the High as a Giraffe Ass Burger, a quarter pound patty topped with spiced nacho cheese, bacon sour cream, and Doritos. It’s no wonder their loyal customer base stalks them through the city.


Tennessee: Smoke Et. Al. (Nashville)

The fact that this list has four entries before a barbecue truck is mentioned was an exercise in restraint. But, the time has come, friends. The time has come. Smoke Et. Al. is a barbecue spot, but Chefs Shane Autrey and Steve Ford aren’t serving up tradition; they take a modern approach that highlights perfectly seasoned meats and comfort foods with a twist. It’s beyond barbecue.

“But,” you ask “do they smoke?” Hell yeah. The truck hauls around a full-on smoker wherever it goes, and there is nary a menu item that doesn’t utilize it. Enjoy the Fiddler’s Biscuit: sour cream sage baked biscuits loaded with shredded smoked chicken and topped with wildflower honey and diced green onion. Or, try the Back 40 Veggie Taco: smoked and roasted seasonal vegetables nestled in locally made tortillas and topped with cilantro lime crema, field greens, scallions, and BBQ peanuts. Dry rubbed, smoked ribs are also fried naked to order. There are even smoked Cheetos on their three cheese Yazoo Mac n’ Cheese, which is made with Gerst Amber Ale from the Yazoo Brewery.

In case you were worried, they also serve the caviar of the south — fried pickled okra with a rich Alabama white sauce. Plus, they are all about recycling generator oil, fry oil, transmission fluid, and the obvious glass, cans, and plastic. And their servingware is biodegradable, compostable, renewable and petroleum- and BPA-free.

North Carolina: KoKyu (Durham)

Residents of Durham know to keep on the lookout for the graffiti-emblazoned food truck run by Chef David “Flip” Filippini. Though it’s the modern Asian cuisine that keeps them coming back, no one is upset about the mounted screen on the side of the truck that allows customers to play some old-school Nintendo games while they wait.

The menu changes depending on the mood of the chef, but there are a few signature dishes that are consistently available. It is not possible to talk about this joint without dealing with the Duckfat Tots — a heaping serving of golden tater tots fried until crispy in duck fat and liberally seasoned with rosemary and black pepper. Korean short ribs frequently make an appearance too — the vinegary, juicy Carolina pork nestled in a taco topped with avocado and cilantro or in a quesadilla with gooey, melted Gorgonzola cheese, sweet caramelized onions, and house-made chili sauce. The Wasabi Slider fills a bun with those sumptuous ribs, romaine, sprouts, wasabi mayo, and a vinaigrette.

This is also a food truck that’s vegetarian-friendly. Despite the fact that the tots are off limits, there are options like the Kimchi Quesadilla, which includes kimchi (duh), cheddar, diced scallion, KoKyu chili sauce, cabbage and radish. Also, we defy you to find a non-meat-eater who wouldn’t punch their mother to eat The Grand Paneer, a sandwich with grilled paneer cheese, a mint/coriander chutney, cabbage, and pickled red onion.


South Carolina: Roti Rolls (Charleston)

Roti Rolls founder Cory Burke took a circuitous path to food truck ownership in the South. Born in New Hampshire, he remained a New Englander through and through, earning a marketing degree from Bentley University in Massachusetts before spontaneously moving to Charleston to help open the Red Drum Gastro Pub in Mount Pleasant. Is this when he launched the truck? Nope. He moved to Vermont for five years and worked under James Beard Award Nominee Eric Warnstedt, as well as at the New England Culinary Institute. His culinary chops good and established, Burke opened Roti Rolls in 2010.

For those of you not in the know, a roti paratha is a type of flatbread popular in Southeast Asia. In east Africa they go by “chapati.” This food truck calls them “pillowy pockets of love.” Burke treats them like flaky, doughy taco shells and stuffs them with fillings. He is all about locally sourced (his is Charleston’s only farm to truck to plate), so the menu is blanketed with terms like farm-raised, local, homemade, and heirloom. The super-popular menu offering the Thurman Merman uses braised local short ribs or farm-raised pork, creole mac & cheese (with creole mustard, sambal, and spices), and house-made kimchi. And that pork probably comes from Carolina Heritage Farms, located in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina, with whom they work often.

This is another truck that has kindly given some thought to people who don’t eat meat. Maybe this helps explain why they were voted best food truck at Bonnaroo, where there’s a larger non-meat crowd. Heck, there’s even a vegan dish — the Hot Chick — which includes a chickpea patty, pickled seasonal veggies, lemon gastrique, and green goddess sauce.

Arkansas: Katmandu Momo (Little Rock)

For most American citizens, the momo isn’t a familiar street food. But, for people from Kathmandu, Napal — like Saroja Shrestha, Katmandu Momo’s owner — it is literally the most popular street food known. These steamed buns are made from a white flour and water dough that is rolled into a flat circle and drawn tight around a filling before being steamed.

This food truck boasts the only Nepalese food in Arkansas and a pared down menu. There are three types of filling and there are three sides. That’s it. Customers have their choice of beef, chicken, or veggie momos. The meats are marinated with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander and blended with diced onion. While the veggie filling (which is vegan) is a blend of carrot, cabbage, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. The proximity of Nepal to India is reflected in the flavor profiles. Before being tucked into a dumpling, the filling is stir fried. When the momos are steamed, the fillings create a dank broth that bursts in your mouth. All are served with a house-made sauce that’s a balanced blend of tomato, garlic, and cilantro.

The sides are all vegan and vegetarian as well. Aloo dum are spicy potatoes served cold, reminiscent of a potato salad. Diners are quick to comment on the heavy punch of garlic and the high level of spice. One diner called it “as hot as a goat’s ass in a pepper patch.” There are also spring rolls, which are petite and tightly rolled. Shrestha uses her mother’s recipe, rather than presenting a more traditional Nepali option. The final side is a crispy, savory fried rice that couples well with the momos.


Georgia: The Blaxican (Alpharetta)

Will Turner borrowed the term used to describe biracial people of African-American and Mexican descent when he named his Mexican soul food truck, combining what he believes to be the most popular cuisines in Georgia. When Turner was laid off from a job as a marketing director for a non-profit, he carefully considered what his next step would be. Cooking was a lifelong passion that he reverted to in times of stress. He knew that he belonged in the restaurant industry, but lacked the funds to go full brick and mortar. Unable to get a bank loan, he legit applied for every credit card he could find online and used those funds to start a business. The man has a lot of high interest debt and the best food truck in the state.

The core menu items are tacos, blending traditional soul food meat preps with a Mexican vehicle. Blackened fish tacos feature Cajun marinated grilled tilapia, MexSoul sauce, and a fresh wasabi coleslaw. Alternately, the smoked sausage tacos include kielbasa grilled with bell peppers and onion, BBQ sauce, and the same slaw. The man takes his collard greens seriously, cooking them for over an hour with giant smoked turkey legs before adding them to the popular collard green quesadilla. And, customers all agree that the sweet potato fries are solid. Picture hand cut sweet potatoes coated in a BBQ dry rub and fried until they are crispy and golden.

All of the tip money from the truck and donations on the truck’s web site go to various organizations in Atlanta dedicated to feeding the less fortunate.

Florida: Ms. Cheezious (Miami)

The grilled cheese sandwich is a ubiquitous food truck subgenre. It may not be possible to complete any list of best food trucks by region without including at least one mobile restaurant paying homage to the glory of rich, melted cheese grilled on liberally buttered bread. In this list, the honor goes to the cheekily named Ms. Cheezious. In 2010, founders Brian and Fatima Mullins and M. Christian Dickens started serving up their signature sandwiches. Brian Mullins had opened over 30 restaurants in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Dickens had worked for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and opened 35 new restaurants with Planet Hollywood, in addition to several mega clubs. And, Fatima had spent years in non-profit management, making her a branding expert. Sitting poolside in Vegas, the three realized it was time to launch a joint venture and it wasn’t long before their little truck was snatching “best of” titles left and right.

For a truck that only serves grilled cheese sandwiches (Okay, they serve some soup, too), there is a ton of variety on the menu. Diners can go vegetarian friendly, with the Pesto Melt: parmesan-crusted sourdough bread cradling luscious melted provolone, fresh tomato, and house-made pesto. There’s even a barbecue tempeh (fermented soybean cake) option if you want to get real 1970s about your vegetarianism. People with a serious sweet tooth can revel in the Sweet Meltdown: two pieces of Texas toast filled with a tart orange marmalade and rich ricotta cheese blend, served with a chocolate dipping sauce. And people who look at the truck’s Instagram account and have a total foodgasm are probably peeping the Mackin Melt: creamy gouda mac n’ cheese layered with strips of house cured bacon and sandwiched between two buttery, grilled slices of sourdough.


Louisiana: Food Drunk (New Orleans)

At the pinnacle of the 2014 Carnival season, Chef PJ Haines introduced the Mardi Gras stunt burger to beat all other Mardi Gras stunt burgers (yes, there have been others). The Food Drunk mobile restaurant birthed the King Cake Burger: a thick, juicy Angus brisket patty topped with mounds of melted, aged cheddar cheese and served on a sprinkle-topped brioche bun baked by New Orleans’ Ye Old Bake Shoppe. New Orleans went wild and purchased 10,000 burgers. It’s no surprise that the sweet, savory, and fatty beast was beloved by the drunk masses. That’s actually the aim of the truck, whose motto is “chef-inspired, alcohol-influenced cuisine.” It’s nosh for the inebriated.

Haines, who has worked as a successful caterer for two decades, varies the menu as his moods change. However, a burger and fries are always offered. The type of burgers vary, but the side is always going to be the Duck Fat Fries: thick planks of smoked potato fried in duck fat and seasoned with rosemary and Sicilian sea salt. Customers can dip them in spicy ketchup, Cajun ranch, or creole mustard.

Feeling like some pork? Grub on the Drunken Pig, which combines pig that has been smoked for 18 hours using applewood and hickory and braised in a PBR and Makers Mark barbecue sauce with a habanero-serrano slaw and slaps it on a Kaiser roll (sometimes, the truck shoves it in a waffle cone for funsies). And, the NOLA region gets a nod in the form of Crab & Crawfish Mac n’ Cheese: big chunks of local crab and crawfish meat melded with a six-cheese blend and topped with a dusting of herbed panko crumbs.

Alabama: Shindigs (Birmingham)

Chefs Chad Schofield And Mac Russell launched this “spank your tastebuds” truck in 2011, after bonding during their time together at Culinard and Hot and Hot Fish Club. They quickly learned that people liked what they were doing, as steady streams of customers bought all of their inventory during a series of hectic lunch rushes. And what’s not to like? They pride themselves on serving “local food, fast,” offering a menu designed around farm-fresh, local produce, meats, and dairy. They also celebrate their Southern roots, but take a healthy approach (nothing on their menu is fried in duck fat).

The menu changes, as all menus tied to seasonal ingredients do. If you hit the truck for brunch, you might opt for savory pulled pork, with highlife grits, and Brussels sprouts, or a buttery croissant filled with fried chicken, Concecuh sausage, and pimento cheese could be more your jam. Our choice would be the éclair with white chocolate ganache, roasted pineapple, and pistachio crumble, but we roll decadent.

For lunch, diners enjoy Korean steam buns with crispy pork belly, cilantro, hoisin, a spicy sesame mist and a side of sweet potato tots. Just try resisting a Slovenian sausage with squash mashed potatoes, burnt stone fruit, caramelized onions, mustard jus, and a side of crispy onion rings.


Mississippi: Lurny D’s Grille (Jackson)

When Lurny D’s owners, Lauren and Betsey Davis, were planning the concept for their food truck, they asked a designer to give them a little Mystery Machine and a little Soul Train, and that’s exactly what they got. The brightly colored vehicle is a real stand-out. The menu, however, is less psychedelic 70s explosion and more street food with a Southern flair. The truck’s goal is to make burgers unlike those you would find anywhere else. The Davis couple call what they serve “Burgers and Southern Street Food to the N’th Degree.”

The menu includes a classic cheeseburger with a slice of American cheese, grilled onion, lettuce, and tomato, but most people are attracted to the more unusual items. The Goober starts with seven ounces of grilled ground beef patty; tops it with two strips of crispy, fried bacon; and slathers it with creamy, salty peanut butter (people who are really into peanut butter can get more by ordering their burger “extra gooey”). The French Onion Dip Burger tops the patty with pickles, Lay’s potato chips, and French onion dip. But, it’s the Southern Burger that really pays homage to Mississippi with a fried green tomato and homemade comeback dressing, a close relative of rémoulade that originated in Jackson. They also make their own pimento cheese for topping burgers and their celebrated hand-cut French fries.

In 2014, the truck offered up Jackson’s first ramen burger, inspired by Keizo Shimamoto of Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. Lauren Davis cooked up 2-packs of beef ramen with a little egg and shaped the noodles into a bun shape. then refrigerated the buns over night. After grilling them up the following day, he topped the ramen buns with an Asian aioli (mayo, ponzu, sriracha, and soy sauce), a patty, and deep-fried kimchi. The results live on in street truck lore.



This post first appeared on Meet The Cast Of The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Porn Pa, please read the originial post: here

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These Are The Best Food Trucks In Every Southeastern State

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