It seems like just yesterday that little Hubcap Grill was trucking its way into the hearts and bellies of Norfolk’s citizens, making a name for themselves, bringing a food truck to a city that we all thought outlawed food trucks. I remember an email exchange going around between several friends and me, all of us wondering, what is this Hubcap Grill? Are they legit? Is it a scam? One friend did two drive-by’s. He said they seemed like the real deal.
And here we are, Labor Day weekend, and Hubcap Grill isn’t the only name on the ticket. Today, area food trucks from Virginia Beach, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Norfolk came together in the WHRO parking lot in Norfolk with one mission: sell some delicious food, bring the community together, and show Hampton Roads that food trucks are here, thriving, and serving up some seriously yummy grub.
Despite the rain around lunch time today, I headed down to the WHRO lot, armed with a hearty appetite, friend and girlfriend in tow. We’re all fans of Hubcap, and none of us had ever met a Twisted Sister cupcake we didn’t like, but we were anxious to try some of the other food trucks in the area. And these trucks did not disappoint – neither did the crowd of hungry patrons who turned out. Lines stretched, weaving around cars in the parking lot, and though it was a muggy day, and the rain kept spitting down in spurts, we all shuffled along, waiting our turns to sample the foods from Eat the Streets 757.
I’m going to tell you right now: I’ve got a serious Dub sandwich crush. Every time Hubcap Grill says they’re doing Dub burgers, I think, cancel whatever plans you have and GO. But today, I made the hard decision to expand my horizons. I stood in line with my friend Andrea and waited for Wrap-n-Roll, eager to try their Carolina BBQ wrap, topped with coleslaw and served on a grilled tortilla. A Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads partner, Wrap-n-Roll endeavors to serve food made only from the freshest ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible.
I ordered their BBQ wrap, which came with those toasty, salty little onion straws: you know, the ones that you usually see on a green bean casserole. They were the cutest little treat to have alongside the wrap, which was (I don’t want to oversell this) SO delicious. Made in Carolina style, this BBQ was smoky, tangy, with just a bit of a hot kick. The meat was tender, and the coleslaw on top was creamy and crisp, the perfect way to freshen up that smoky, rich meat. The two kids manning their register (pre-teens, if I had to guess) were rocking through the line, with one of them writing down orders and taking money, and the other sprinting back into the truck with new orders for the chefs. They had a long line, but they didn’t skip a beat, keeping on going despite the heat and the crowd. I hope to see this food truck around town much more often, and when I do, I’m chasing them down like a kid going after the ice cream truck.
Now, I only have half a box of Alka Seltzer left at home, so I didn’t want to overdo it. Amanda and I decided to divide and conquer so we could sample as many foods as possible: I went for Wrap-n-Roll, and she went for Stuft, Hampton Roads’ first taco cart offering authentic Mexican street food, utilizing the freshest ingredients possible. Amanda was hoping they would be selling tortas today, but they weren’t, so she went with fish tacos. We love fish tacos (I use the collective we because we made it our mission, this summer, to perfect fish tacos, and I think we’re about there), and as we hung out and ate, her first comment was that it was a little spicy – praise from this girl who loves spicy foods. I tried some, and indeed, it had a great kick, lots of flavor. The fish was tender, the coleslaw was fresh, and the addition of fresh chopped red onions and a spicy sauce topped everything off with a sense of closure and resolution that made each bite feel fully satisfying. Hit it with a little fresh lime juice? We were in business.
Twisted Sisters Cupcakes
Oh, a cupcake truck: what more could a girl want than a pink van peddling fresh baked cupcakes topped with mountains of butter cream frosting? Jewelry, maybe. Or money. Or an ice cream maker! Or for that van to just live at her house. I digress.
After eating our wraps and tacos and hydrating a little bit, we needed to get some dessert. Truth be told, we were hoping for the Signature Eat 757, the signature cupcake Twisted Sisters made for the event: chocolate Guinness cupcake with gnache center, caramel ABC (American butter cream), and candied bacon. Alas, they were sold out by the time I got to the window. (The woman in front of me got the last one. I’m either proud of myself or regretting that I didn’t start bartering with her on the spot to get that cupcake from her.)
Instead, we went with the June Cleaver Madagascar vanilla, a vanilla cupcake with Madagascar vanilla butter cream and sprinkles on top. It was cute, yes, and the kind of tidy, whipped, clean-cut dessert that brings to mind vacuuming in high heels and pearls, but it was also super yummy. Twisted Sisters does not skimp on frosting; the frosting was the same height as the actual cupcake. I got my chow face on and just dug in, not caring how much frosting ended up on my face along the way. Fluffy light cupcake; rich, creamy butter cream, full of the flavor of vanilla: it was the perfect ending to the food extravaganza I was in.
As good as the food was, the sense of community was even better. I saw people I knew from work and school; people were throwing hugs on each other, sharing food, commiserating about the lengths of the lines (which were, well, long), and discussing what to order. Even though it was hot and muggy out, everyone seemed genuinely excited and happy to be there, which made for a positive experience. As I’ve been writing this post, every few minutes, someone new posts on the Facebook invitation for Eat the Streets 757, sharing their praise for the truck they ordered from, voicing their wish for these events to happen more often, to expand all around Hampton Roads, and to please, please, please, not run out of food before they can get there tonight. From the looks of the Facebook page, it seems trucks have begun running out of food, which tells me one thing: the supportive presence on Facebook manifested into physical presence at the event. Food trucks got some loving from diners of Hampton Roads today.
All in all, I’d say that’s one successful food truck festival.