It’s happened. Houston’s food truck scene has stepped it up, giving the city something like Austin’s SoCo (R.I.P). And, so far, Houston Food Truck Park has put a smile on Houstonians' faces.
Burgers, cupcakes, tamales, pho—so many options, so few yards apart. Since July, the parking lot next to what was once Meridian on St. Emanuel has hosted trucks serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. weekdays.
I recently stopped by for lunch to find Bernie’s Burger Bus, Mr. Sizzles Curbside, The Waffle Bus, Tamalito’s Café, and Zeapod Bakery all lined up in the lot. Being a burger junkie, I was thrilled with the choices available—but it wasn't a surprise. I knew the burger buses would be there that day, since I'd checked ahead on the Houston Food Truck Park's Facebook page and Twitter feed.
While the options were great, the scenery wasn't so hot. Meridian—with its many broken windows—looked like it lost a fight, and it seemed as though the food trucks were the only open businesses in the immediate vicinity.
On the hot day of my visit, I felt I was in a desert of concrete. There aren't any chairs, tables, umbrellas, or anything meant to allow a seated dining experience. But that's not entirely the fault of the food truck park; that's mostly due to the City of Houston's regulations (which don't allow food trucks to provide nearby seating). Most people crossed the street to take cover from the heat on a shaded curb.
Houston’s heat, a lack of seat, and a sea of concrete did not stop me from enjoying a Señor Sizzle from Mr. Sizzle Curbside, however. Talk about delicious. A patty packed with jalapeño and Monterey jack cheese was topped with guacamole, melted cheese, tortilla strips, lettuce, tomato, onion, and chipotle aioli. At the bottom of the container was a swirl of grease, cheese and guacamole. Huh umm. Yet somehow, the burger didn't taste greasy. Bueno trabajo, Mr. Sizzles Curbside.
For a dessert that effectively combatted the hot day, Zeapod Bakery served up frozen, chocolate-covered cheesecake-on-a-stick. What made the experience even more enjoyable: Ford gave away $5 food truck vouchers to anyone signing up for its $30,000 sweepstakes. It was a one-day thing, but Houston Food Park owners say there are more events to come—including a Retro Festival and a Beyond the Blacktop event.
Another plus, in October, Houston Food Park will open on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 4 p.m. to 8 or 10 p.m. for dinner said Tirzo Ponce, one of the park’s owners.
So, in all, a trip to Houston Food Park is a trip worth being made, and it seems soon our first food truck spot will mature to be one of Houston’s hot spots.