I believe “gut truck” is no longer the proper etiquette and in some parts of the world is frowned upon as offensive and discriminative. The food truck revolution is upon us, with shows on the Travel Channel highlighting their array of cuisines and a new truck popping up on every corner it seemed inevitable that I would eventually have to eat at one. The thought of eating at a gut truck made my stomach churn with fear; I envisioned disgusting trucks providing week old Mexican food parked on the side of a mini-mart dishing out plates full of semolina.
I love yelp, if you are not yelping you should be! I have found a gaggle of fun places and activities in the Portland area with the help of yelp based on reviews entered by past place/activity goers. I also get their weekly newsletters, each highlighting a new people/person/thing in the neighborhood that is getting rave reviews. What does yelp have to do with gut trucks? I’ll tell you.
While scheduling my day’s adventure, Shawna and I had planned on going for a delightful ride on the OHSU aerial tram. The weather was shit out though, raining and gray and gross! At the exact moment I was contemplating doing something else I got my yelp newsletter. This week’s highlight – the food truck revolution and all about the fantastic food truck community found on 32nd and Division. Now, I am not a 100% believer in fate and destiny and all that but I don’t disregard it either, I like to put that information in my back pocket and sit on it for a bit and then decide on my own. I picked up Shawna and we decided we would drive by the gut truck depot and see what it looked like from the safe comfort of the vehicle.
We got to 32nd and Division and found about 10 different trucks all parked along the edges of a small empty parking lot. In the center was a really nice tented eating area complete with multiple picnic tables and outdoor heaters, perfect accommodations for outdoor eating in the rain. Thanks to the Yelp newsletter I got earlier in the day I had read about each truck and knew exactly which one I wanted to eat at. Shawna and I walked the perimeter looking at each cart so she could decide which food cart she was going to have her first gut truck experience with since we were both virgins.
Shawna decided to go with Herb's Mac & Cheese, a super cute vintage pod cart serving up mac and cheese in an ice cream parlor fashion giving you complete freedom to mix and match any toppings you may want to add to your classic mac. I decided to go a little more adventurous, go big or go home right? I choose Awesome Cone. Who says delicious food like chicken and dumplings or pasta with creamy vegan tomato sauce has to be served on a plate? Thinking outside the plate is exactly what the owners of Awesome Cone are doing, serving up care filled food in huge waffle cones! That's right people, waffle cones!
I walked up to the cart window and told the man behind the curtain of my quest and ordered up a safe tufo dish, I asked if it was good and he replied with a simple "eah, its okay" - yes, this is the owner and creator of this wacky food in a cone concept so I took that as truth and asked what he recommended, what was HIS favorite? He responded with the same suggestion practically every yelp reviewer said, the Pig Cone. A mix of sweet and tangy pulled pork, rich in brown sugar but also something with a kick. The spicy pork is shoved into two huge cones, doubled up to improve stability and to ensure the juicy pork doesn't mush up the cone container. Topped with a delightful fresh scoop of coleslaw.
I chit chatted with the owner as he made up my cone, telling him of my adventure and he was super nice, very approachable and kind, thanking me for choosing his cart to make my first. He handed me a gigantic cone overflowing with pork and slaw. I headed to the table under the heater that Shawna had staked out for us and we stared for a moment at the cone, together trying to decide if we should be excited or scared. I took a bite.
Pulled Pork is probably Doc's favorite food, if he could eat it everyday he probably would. Recently I made it in the slow cooker a few times, and it turned out pretty great so now ordering it from restaurants after that feels like I am cheating on my slow-cooker. I guess I am trying to say that I have had my fare share of pulled pork and could easily be a guest judge on the Food Network for a pulled pork cook off!
I took a bite. It was amazing! I devoured half of it before I came up for air and thought - pulling from my previous thoughts of gut trucks - oh shit, what if I get sick?!? I might die! I was also getting really full as the cone seemed to be bottomless, I wrapped up the second half of my cone and tucked it away for later.
We decided that we would continue living on the edge and get a slice of pie at Pie Spot, I was really looking forward to this cart and have to be honest and say it came up short. I am not sure if the cone was just a really hard act to follow or that the quality just wasn't as good as I had hoped. I got a lemon pie hole, which is basically a mini pie, and Shawna got a marionberry one. The lemon pie was similar to the little hostess pies you can get at 7-11. I am not sure I will go to the Pie Spot again but I will definitely be back to the Awesome Cone. I got home later that night and decided that since my previous notions of food carts (I will no longer refer to them to as "gut trucks") was wrong and I gobbled up the rest of my cone and when I was ready for lunch the next day I was sad when I didn't have another cone to enjoy!
The only bad thing I have to say about this little food truck community is that while I appreciate them having a restroom (outhouse) available it really needs to be cleaned on a more frequent basis.
So the next time you're shopping on Hawthorne, visiting Reed Collage, or just in the SE area take a moment to venture over to 32nd and Division to get a tasty treat from the Awesome Cone, or Herb's Mach & Cheese, or a pie from the Pie Hole - but be sure to get the marionberry not the lemon.