Local food trucks offer alternative dining options
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 01:10
In the midst of the latest cuisine trend, food connoisseurs and chefs across Bryan-College Station are giving customers an alternative to sit-down restaurants for their growling stomachs.
Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro, Cake Junkie, The Rollin’ Joint and Frost Bites are only a few of the many innovative food trucks in Bryan-College Station.
Chef Tai Lee, the owner of Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro and chef at Veritas Wine and Bistro, said that some of his motivation for his food truck came from his desire to lose the stigma that there is no good food in College Station.
“Chow.com rated College Station as one of the worst towns for food because we are so saturated with fast food chains,” Lee said. “I want to expose our town to different diverse food, and hopefully they will open up their eyes so that they aren’t afraid of eating sushi.”
Being an Aggie, Class of 2002, Lee has a special connection to College Station and has been in the city since 1998.
“I am an Aggie, I want my fellow Aggies to taste my food and see more of what I do,” Lee said. “I owe everything to the Aggies and local residents. I see such a tremendous unity and friendship in this town. I love this town.”
Lee balances being chef at Veritas Wine and Bistro while at the same time channeling his love for cuisine to help develop his mobile bistro which also offers catering services.
In 2011, The Food Network named Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro “America’s Favorite Food Truck” after Lee’s bistro won $10,000 on The Food Network’s show The Great Food Truck Race.
Local Daniel Orozco said he loves the food truck’s constantly changing menu.
“I like that [Chef Tai’s] is something different.” Orozco said. “College station has a lot of chains, and I like that this brings a fresh idea to the table.”
Parked merely a few yards from Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro is the Cake Junkie Cruiser, a food truck affiliated with Cake Junkie’s local bakery.
Senior community development major Ann Vonk works on the Cruiser, and she said that she applied to work specifically for the food truck because of her curiosity in the mobile cuisine movement.
“I am very interested in the food truck revolution,” Vonk said. “It’s a fun way to get some extra cash. I actually have never had one of the cupcakes, but the most popular is the red velvet.”
The Cake Junkie Cruiser often parks next to Chef Tai’s, offering customers like Jacquelyn Nguyen dinner and dessert in one stop.
“The kids love it,” Nguyen said. “They get excited on Wednesdays to come get hamburgers and cupcakes. When [these food trucks] first started, I followed them everywhere.”
A local food truck that caters more towards college students is one called The Rollin’ Joint, which serves southern drunk food every Thursday through Saturday night on Northgate from 11 p.m.-2:30 a.m.
Founder Tyler Riddle said The Rollin’ Joint prides itself on the fact that it focuses on food quality. This is achieved through constantly changing menus with plates such as hickory-smoked pulled pork BBQ with Dublin Dr. Pepper sauce, chicken fried rice, and macaroni and cheese topped with crushed Cheetos and bacon.
“We make everything from scratch,” Riddle said. “Our menu is a very southern solid drunk food menu. We don’t cut corners or do anything premade.”
Though College Station remains The Rollin’ Joint’s original location, Riddle hopes to expand the truck to every SEC campus in the next five years.
Jeff Harris, the owner of a local shaved ice joint named Frost Bites said that a lot of the food truck industry has to do with convenience.
“We come to you,” Harris said. “If you are at your office and can’t get out, or if you want to reward your employees for working overtime, call us and we’ll come out to treat everybody.”
Harris started Frost Bites in July of 2011, and now manages it on the side while working as a full time police officer.
“I have some really good customers,” Harris said. “I enjoy coming up to check on [the truck]. I know all of the customers and people even recognize me in the grocery store.”