04/29/13 12:00pm

A ‘FIELD GUIDE’ TO HOUSTON FOOD TRUCKS A new book declares which among the estimated 1,400 are the best food trucks in Houston: Houston Chronicle food writer and UH marketing professor Paul Galvani tells a 392-page story of what he calls “the food truck movement,” providing maps and reviews of his 100 favorites, like Good Dog Hot Dog and The Modular, which gave rise to the recently opened Downtown ramen shop Goro & Gun. Houstonia food writer and El Real Tex Mex co-founder Robb Walsh doesn’t seem to think this is a book meant for the coffee table, blurbing, “I plan to carry a copy in my car as a field guide . . . .” [Houston’s Top 100 Food Trucks; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Houston’s Top 100 Food Trucks via Swamplot inbox

10/11/12 3:37pm

OMG! A RICE VILLAGE FOOD TRUCK CLAMPDOWN After receiving complaints from restaurant owners and residents, police have launched an inspection sweep of food trucks in the Rice Village area, an HPD spokesperson tells reporter Terrence McCoy. At least 50 citations for various violations were issued in the last month, and the campaign is scheduled to continue for another month. Recipient of 4 of those inspections: Korean barbecue and taco vendor Oh My Gogi!, which typically parks outside Brian O’Neill’s on Morningside Dr. on weekends. Manager Daniel Davenport says police walked away without giving him a citation last Friday night, but on a previous weekend the truck chalked up 3 infractions for having business permits on hand, but not displaying them in open sight. [Hair Balls] Photo: Houston Food Crawl

10/05/12 3:01pm

UNBAKING A LONELY STRIP CENTER SPOT Saddled with a “terrible” location — a lonely strip center on Barker Cypress Rd., halfway between Katy and Cypress, year-old Ranch Bakery is taking to Kickstarter to raise funds to — break its lease? No — start up a food truck, explains owner John Homrighausen. It’ll be a souped-up delivery truck with “a giant pair of longhorns for the front & a horn that plays ‘The Eyes Of Texas,'” he promises. The spot at 5431 Barker Cypress is good for his catering company, Homrighausen explains, “but an unfortunate one for a retail store.” He hopes to lure fans of kolaches and Big John’s King Kong Ding Dongs to donate a total of $19,965 towards the effort by the end of the month. [Kickstarter, via Eater Houston] Photo: Ranch Bakery

09/21/12 1:55pm

Why is Houston the only major city in the country that bans propane-equipped food trucks from operating Downtown — and one of the few that prohibits all food trucks from serving near seating areas or even setting up their own chairs for customers? A few clues appear in Katherine Shilcutt’s fascinating account of Tuesday’s city hearing, during which council members expressed a few concerns: that food-truck purveyors might be selling “other items” on the sly, or that there might not be a sufficient number of city inspectors to police the existing fleet. But, Shilcutt reports, “The questions got even stranger when Council Member Andrew Burks began hinting at the possibility of terrorists using food trucks’ propane tanks as weapons, a comment that prompted laughter from the audience.”

The possibility of overfueled taco trucks blowing up Downtown Houston, however, wasn’t the only frightening specter Burks conjured up before the mostly mobile-food-friendly crowd:


09/11/12 3:36pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DICK CHENEY’S BIRD SHOT AND MY FOOD TRUCK PEDIGREE “‘glorified Roach coaches’? Some maybe but certainly not all. I was one of the first to start a gourmet food truck in the Houston area almost three years ago. I have been interviewed by several newspapers in Houston and have done numerous live television cooking from that truck. I am no longer in the business of food trucks because Houston guidelines made it too difficult to make any money. Now to address your ‘glorified Roach coach’ comment. I have a degree in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in France. I have been in kitchens for 24 years and currently work as a Corporate Executive Chef for a very large food purveyor. My work history includes having run 4 and 5 star hotels as Exec Chef, working as Exec Chef for numerous high-end New American cuisine restaurants, I have developed many menus in many cities and chances are you have probably eaten at one or more of them. I worked at The Food Network in NYC and was personal chef for George and Barbara Bush and yes I was at the ranch when Cheney shot Harry Whittington while bird hunting (it was Harry’s fault by the way and I have proof!) When I owned the food truck I carried an insurance policy with 2 million dollars of coverage (the same that any restaurant carries) and my kitchen was always spectacularly clean. I, like many other chefs, take a lot of pride in what I serve to you. My food is my craft and what I put on the plate is a direct reflection of me, my integrity and my love for what I do. Unless you have ever worked in a kitchen professionally, please refrain from making blanket statements about the men and women that run some of these fabulous mobile kitchens. You would be surprised about the background of many of them.” [Jason, commenting on Mobile Food Vendors Mobilize]

09/06/12 9:47am

MOBILE FOOD VENDORS MOBILIZE A collective formed by more than 2 dozen food-truck operators plans to roll on city hall later this month — to present the mayor and council members with a list of proposed changes to city ordinances, fire code, and health regulations that restrict where and how Houston’s growing fleet of mobile food units can operate. The changes promoted by Mobile Food Unit Houston would get rid of current rules requiring food trucks and trailers to park more than 60 ft. away from each other, allow a single propane permit to cover multiple locations, and lift the ban on using propane fuel in the Med Center and Downtown. The changes would also allow their customers to sit down, lifting current rules that prohibit the sale of food-truck food near seating areas and letting them to set up limited numbers of tables and chairs on their own. [Mobile Food Unit Houston; previously on Swamplot]

09/15/11 11:09pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CAN’T YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS HEADED? “At some point, the successful food trucks that provide consistently good food will setup tables and chairs, stake out an “area” in this experiment that is their spot, get so busy they’ll need someone whose only job is to take food orders and handle payment, even bring the food to your table. Eventually, they might even stake out parking just for their customers. OH WAIT, WE ALREADY HAVE THOSE, THEY’RE CALLED RESTAURANTS. This food truck-mania is just getting silly. Now pass me an apple/lemon-strudel cupcake with neon princess sprinkles with 15% of the profit going towards gloves for people displaced by encroaching solar panel farms.” [SL, commenting on Heights Shipping Container Food Court]

11/17/10 9:36pm

The Rodriguez Brothers have produced more than 200 food trucks out of their warehouse on the corner of Garrow and Roberts just east of Settegast Park, reports food critic and soon-to-be-restaurateur Robb Walsh. Inside on a recent visit, Walsh finds 14 vehicles in various stages of customization — including catering trucks, taco trucks with “California-style” cantilevered skylights, and vehicles outfitted with elote cookers, shaved-ice machines, or other specialty equipment. “The kitchen is designed for the kind of food being served,” co-owner Daniel Rodriguez tells him.