Last week I noted I would be ‘railgating’. The City of Minneapolis created an area along the LRT on 5th St leading from the Metrodome towards Downtown for food trucks to line up for several hours before and after the game in order to create a more festive atmosphere for the game. Loving my food trucks and being without The Wife, I decided to bundle up both kids and ride the train (much to The Rooster’s excitement) and check out the trucks.
We arrived around 10 AM and I made my way towards the trucks. Immediately I noticed the selection of trucks was crap. There wasn’t a single one I was interested in eating at and there were only a few of the most well known trucks there (i.e. there was no World Street Kitchen, Vellee Deli, Lefty and MSPD’s new favorite SushiFix, etc). And even at 10 AM there just didn’t seem to be all that many people interested in the food trucks but there were TONS of media personnel there blocking the sidewalk route for someone pushing an admittedly obnoxious double-wide stroller. Even if I had been in the mood for two of the more well known trucks (Chef Shack and Smack Shack) my kids and I would have been all over the TV news, something I wasn’t in the mood to deal with.
I walked the entire length of the two block ‘railgating’ area and noticed that entirely too many of the trucks were serving the same thing: pulled meat (mostly pork). Not only did I find that boring, I was making it myself that evening for Cuban sandwiches. It’s pretty obvious to me that the truck culture has jumped the shark and people are starting to offer what’s inexpensive and easy instead of what’s food-forward and incredible in order to capitalize on the craze. Not cool people.
I eventually ended up back at Andrew Zimmern’s truck AZ Canteen. It’s no secret that I find Andrew Zimmern to be an obnoxious and horrendous individual, especially when it comes to his taste in food (no, Raising Cane’s is not ok), but his truck was the only one offering anything that wasn’t $16 but still sounded like what I believe food trucks should be serving.
I ordered the Green Papaya Salad with Pork Belly with a Fried Egg ($9; $8 without the egg). The staff was really friendly and chatted with me at length while they took my order and prepared my food. The item itself was a decent sized portion, although I really would have liked more salad. The flavors were good. The pork belly was crispy and flavorful and while it really needed quite a bit more heat to be a true papaya salad (yes, even in Minnesota), they responded on Twitter to note that I could ask for more heat with a jalapeno/lime splash next time (I let them know I wanted heat, not tang). They seemed genuinely interested in my response to the food with one of the cooks giving me a look and asking if I gave it a thumbs up. I did and so did The Rooster who loved the entire thing and begged me for more “Belly” later :)
With The Rooster wanting a little more after his taste of “Belly”, I headed to Cajun 2 Geaux for some beignets ($2) and jambalaya ($9) which they said they could make as hot as I wanted. The Rooster *LOVED* the beignets and while the chef in the truck took it as a personal challenge to make it as hot as he could, I found myself with a pile of rice, chicken, and sausage and not much flavor aside from the sausage. No, it wasn’t spicy and it really could have used more overall flavor. However, it was a nice sized portion and it’s a blank slate waiting for a little more work to get it to where it really needs to be.
Overall, ‘railgating’ needs work. They need to have some of the big names in trucks there, the ones that are actually decent instead of 3/16. They also need to up their games to ensure they’re not all serving similar items to one another. It’s a close-knit community, work together to make the fans’ experience ones to remember and get your names out there as having some really excellent gameday food you can’t also get within 5 feet of the Metrodome.
Did you hit up the ‘Railgating’ extravaganza last weekend? If so what did you think? What trucks did you hit? What items did you have? Are you planning on doing it again in the future? What trucks and items would you like to see added? Whatever you have to say go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.