Even as more food truck parks open around the city, one fact of the food truck business can't be denied: it's tough to keep on trucking day after day. Just as many food trucks close as open each year. Food truck life is a brutal business that requires long hours in an enclosed metal box that's often far hotter and far smaller than any kitchen. Any profits you make have to be poured right back into making sure your mobile kitchen stays mobile. Competition is fierce. Restaurants don't want you around, and the City of Houston seems to take their side on the matter.
That's what makes food trucks like H-Town StrEATs rare in the trucking business. H-Town StrEATs was one of the first "new generation" food trucks to hit Houston three years ago—food trucks that don't necessarily specialize in tacos or other Central American fast food, like the old guard taco trucks which have roamed Houston's streets for many years—and is still going strong today. It keeps company with other new generation food trucks such as Phamily Bites and Bernie's Burger Bus as proof that a good concept plus consistent daily execution is the recipe for success in this business.
It doesn't hurt, of course, that owners Matt Opaleski and Jason Hill are still on board the truck personally every single day, nor that the two men have smartly kept their modern American menu a mix of classic favorites (the fried avocado taco, the shorty mac sandwich, the truffle-Parmesan fries) and new creations (today's menu features oyster tacos in celebration of the beginning of oyster season). Even the location for the truck remains consistent: you can usually find H-Town StrEATs parked outside Inversion Coffee House in Montrose several days a week at lunch.
That's where I stopped by to visit Opaleski and Hill last week for a few old favorite dishes, although the truck was already out of its signature fried avocado tacos by the time I got there for a late lunch. Hill made it up by offering me a mahi-mahi taco instead, the fish tender under a sweet, tangy glaze and a crunchy cabbage slaw.
The shorty mac—an artery-nuking sandwich of short rib debris and mac 'n' cheese—was the best iteration of the H-Town StrEATs classic I could remember having, yet another reason for the truck's longevity. And as usual, the Parmesan fries had the perfect amount of truffle oil on top (a divisive ingredient, but one that I love in the right quantities and applications), making the fries ever-so-faintly musky under their dusting of salty cheese.
Sadly, the ever-reliable H-Town StrEATs may soon be joining the ranks of the retired food trucks which have gone brick-and-mortar, such as Eatsie Boys and The Modular. I have it on good authority that Hill and Opaleski are opening a doughnut shop in the same Heights neighborhood which will soon house Fat Cat Creamery's ice cream shop, Hunky Dory, and Foreign Correspondents. While it would be a loss for the food truck scene, I can only imagine the doughnuts that may emerge from Hill and Opaleski's endless wellspring of creative cooking.
Fried avocado taco doughnuts? Probably not. But if this past weekend's Lucky Dog charity dinner—at which H-Town StrEATs served fried chicken strips sandwiched between two sweet doughnuts with a spicy Tabasco mash—is any indication, the food truck scene's loss would be the doughnut scene's great gain.