If you go
Food Truck Rally
Where: Seminole Casino, 506 S. First St., Immokalee
When: 6-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20
Information: 800-218-0007 or SeminoleImmokaleeCasino.com
They are the subject of multiple gourmet shows on television. Owners of some of these have been uplifted to celebrity status. Through social media like Facebook and Twitter, they've achieved an almost cultlike following. Food trucks have gone from greasy fast food-mobiles to renowned movable culinary destinations.
And from 6 to 10 p.m. this Friday night, Jan. 20 several of the region's most beloved food trucks will be stationary at the Seminole Casino Immokalee's Food Truck Rally.
Food trucks from Tampa to Miami will be serving signature dishes that range in price from $5 to $10 per item. More than 10 food trucks are expected to participate and DJ Tommy Tunes is slated to provide music and interactive games for the event.
Some of the most intriguing dishes that will be at the truck rally are gourmet plays on traditional food truck dishes like burgers, hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches. Participating food trucks will include Cool Haus featuring hefty, various-flavored ice cream sandwiches, Dog Eat Dog which will feature 10 gourmet hot dogs. Collier and Lee counties' local favorite, Nosh Truck, will be there, as will Frita Man and Croquette Boy, which features seven different kinds of fritas, Mr. Good Stuff will feature five signature arepas — ground-corn or flour cakes with various fillings — and Palate Party.
The Seminole Casino Immokalee will provide high top tables for guests.
Jose Unamuno is forging a hot dog revolution in his home base of Broward County and everywhere else he goes in Florida with his Dog Eat Dog food truck. He features 10 hot dogs in his mobile kitchen from ultra-gourmet to the simple hot dogs he loved when he lived in New York City. A complete list of his hot dogs is available on his website at http://www.DogEatDogTruck.com.
"There is a huge hot dog culture in New York and our mission here in Florida is to make hot dogs something you can eat on a day-to-day basis," says Unamuno, who initially wanted to start a restaurant, but found rent and equipment prices were out of his budget.
"I saw food trucks getting popular in Miami but the only one I didn't see was a truck that had a hot dog specialty — with me being a hot dog lover, and that a restaurants costs three to four times as much as a food truck, I decided to go into the food truck and start making some delicious dogs."
Unamuno brings a little gourmet touch to the hot dog, but he also serves standard dogs with relish, sauerkraut and mustard, for example. Unamuno even offers a dessert hot dog — the actual frank is a caramelized banana and instead of ketchup and mustard he dons the dog with Nutella and marshmallows.
During the summer Unamuno uses fresh roasted corn on one of his dogs. The chili dog, however, is his personal favorite.
"We do make amazing chili on the truck from scratch and the dog is wrapped in bacon and put on the flat top so it gets really crispy," says Unamuno. "Then we add potato sticks and cheese sauce on top."
Gene Beltran owns and operates the Fritaman and Croquette Boy truck with his son Joshua Beltran. Both are passionate about food. A frita is a Cuban hamburger made of pork, chorizo and ground Angus beef. Beltran tops each of his fritas with julienne fries and serves them on a Cuban hoagie. He operates the food truck mostly in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
"Getting a food truck was one of those decisions that my wife wanted to kill me for, but I bought a new food truck after selling my trailer, and part of the success I've had, in addition to the quality of the food, is that I was also a promoter," said Beltran, who used his skills in the promoting business to springboard the kid-friendly food truck, with its comic book-themed design. "It's been successful from the beginning, thanks also to the different styles of fritas we serve."
Beltran's fritas are mouthwatering concoctions with creative names and flavor combinations, like Frita Man and Croquette Boy's Chuck Norris frita, topped with a big onion ring and a sauce he says is not too spicy and not too sweet.
"We also have the Mexican frita which comes with jalapeños and guacamole, an American frita with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles and the Cuban which comes with raw onions and ketchup," he says. "Then we have the tropical frita with spicy guava, the Spanish frita featuring spicy mango, bacon and Swiss cheese, and our hangover frita made with Tequila sauce."
Choose your cookie, choose your ice cream. That is the premise behind Cool Haus, a food truck concept with trucks in several major cities across America. Cool Haus serves gourmet, architecturally inspired ice cream sandwiches, a listing of which is available at www.EatCoolHaus.com.
Owners Natasha Base and Freya Espreller created the unique angle in homage to their background in architecture. Their dishes are named for architects and architectural movements. Flavors you can expect to see in their food trucks range to brown butter, candied bacon, pistachio and black truffle — the savory truffle, not the sweet, which they shave to infuse in one of their ice creams. Their Guinness-and-chips ice cream also is popular.
"We have 50 rotating flavors and edible potato paper, which makes us sustainable and unique in that way and we print on that paper with edible ink which is great for corporate events or guests of honor," said Base.
Base says people who have never eaten from a gourmet food truck before should be prepared for more of a culinary adventure.
"In terms of more unique venues as well as really affordable prices, modern food trucks feature more chef-inspired, elevated cuisine than a truck 10 years ago would give you."
The Seminole Casino Immokalee will provide high top tables for guests at this weekend's food truck rally, but in cities where food trucks are prevalent, seating can consist of park benches or organized seating, depending on city policies.
"In Miami they're more lenient letting us set up seating and food trucks in general have given way to communal eating areas which makes for a really nice environment around the truck," says Base.