Treats in the Heat: DFW Food Truck Festival at Sigel’s Fine Wine on Greenville

Three Men And A Truck food truck surrounded by hot, hungry men, women, and children. (photography by Victor Jiang)

The first of what will probably be many more DFW Food Truck Festivals took place Saturday outside Sigel’s Fine Wine and Great Spirits on Greenville Avenue. I’m not sure if the next one will take place in August. At 7PM, it was about 108 degrees. There were also, by my best guesstimate, approximately 2,000 people waiting and eating. Parking was reasonably well-organized with security marshaling people through the Sigel’s parking lot.  Most people either took DART or parked in the retail lots across the street.  Many of the customers headed indoors where Sigel’s offered craft beer and wine tastings. The entire event was orchestrated by Jasper Russo, Sigel’s wine marketing director.

The savage heat and long lines didn't keep folks from waiting to sample Dallas' new food truck scene.

I arrived early, about 5pm, so I could watch the orchestration of the setup. Three trucks of the participating nine trucks were already there. The rest pulled in by 5:30pm. Each of the trucks appeared to have added extra staff, but they all could have used more. The workers piled out and set up umbrellas, canopies, ice, and generators. I could tell they were nervous. For some, their performance at this festival could define their image and bottom line.  At the end of the night, many of the trucks, if not all, probably saw more customers in this one day than the total number of people they have served since being licensed.  Most of the owner/operators have giddily reported record sales.

Saturday night’s festival featured nine trucks: Gandolfo’s NY Deli, Jack’s Chowhound, Nammi Cruisin’ Vietnamese Fusion, Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe, 3 Men and a Taco, Enticed Shaved Ice, The Bomb Fried Pies, Trailercakes, and Mr. Cool Ice Cream.

Jump for two new first takes and pictures.

Ruthie's Rolling Cafe. (photography by Victor Jiang)

Since I’ve eaten at most trucks that have been rolling for a while, I started with the newer entrants: Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe and 3 Men and a Taco.

Ruthie’s features design-your-own grilled cheese sandwiches. Start with your choice of bread from Empire Bakery, pick your cheese, meat, and sauce and pay $7.50. Ruthie’s was probably the most organized truck on the outside. They were there early, set up shade canopies, and had plenty of people outside of the truck passing out menus and explaining the drill.  Unfortunately, the kitchen efficiency didn’t match the outside and it took a while to get the grilled cheese sandwich. However, this is Ruthie’s first public event, so we’ll cut them lots of slack. When the grilled cheese did finally come out, it was delivered like a great grilled cheese sandwich should be: nice, crispy, and hot.  I look forward to trying more variations if Ruthie’s, especially if they get to the point of offering a daily schedule.

Service from 3 Men and a Taco was quick and efficient. The flavors of their tacos were good, but they were served on a generic flour tortilla. Sometimes the tortilla was warm and the filling was cold; others came out the opposite. The beet tacos were outstanding, but a bit pricey at $4. I have spent a lot of time discussing the difficulty of starting a food truck with most of the current operators in Dallas and they all agree that while it may look easy, it is an extraordinarily tough venue to start. So I am not going to be too critical of this event. To many this was a test run and a good chance for them to fine tune their products and concepts.  With a sound concept (duh, tacos in Dallas) and good flavors, I would expect 3 Men and a Taco to work out the kinks.

The clear winner on line length was Nammi Cruisin’ Vietnamese Fusion.  With a popular concept and a good following, they had them stacked deep.  By my quick and rough count, I’d estimate there were 90 people in line for Nammi’s banh mi and tacos.

Nammi truck. (photography by Victor Jiang)
Nammi's line snaking around the back side of Sigel's.

Amazingly, there were few grumbles in the crowd due to the long lines and heat.  Everyone was excited about the event.  The biggest problem was simply trying to figure out which line was which.. Parking wasn’t a problem with abundant retail parking across the street and many people walking from the DART rail a couple of blocks away.  As I drove away at about 7:30pm, traffic had slowed on Greenville Ave. as people crossed the streets.  People walked briskly up the sidewalk with excited looks on their faces in anticipation; the same sort of looks on people’s faces at Disneyland at 9aAM when they open the doors.

All in all, the nine trucks that attended in partnership with Sigel’s did a terrific job, creating a great time for Dallas first food truck festival.

Rear view of Gandolfo's. (Photography by Victor Jiang)
Jack's ChowHound (Photography by Victor Jiang)