Raleigh food truck rodeo corrals hungry crowd

ablythe@newsobserver.comJune 9, 2013 

— The city’s second downtown Food Truck Rodeo rounded up long lines of hungry grazers on Sunday.

From the edge of the state Capitol grounds to four blocks east, crowds lingered throughout the afternoon, eating up the diverse offerings from the mobile food world.

Crepes, Philly cheesesteaks, gourmet mac and cheese, meatballs, dumplings, tacos, deli fare and all kinds of barbecue were being dished up and down the street.

Big city sandwiches with little-town names – The Carrboro, a vegetarian three-cheese griller – were offered alongside Chirba Chirba Dumplings, Baton Rouge Cuisine, Sympathy for the Deli, Baguettaboutit and more.

Sweet and savory mixed in the air for an olfactory buffet, and local brewers kept beer flowing to quench thirsts in the hot afternoon sun.

Corey Octetree, a Raleigh resident who works for the city, and Laura Mulligan, a Raleigh resident who works with the Wake County school system, were starting their tour of trucks with a taste of Pale Ale Poppers. They were jalapeno peppers stuffed with pulled pork and cheese and dipped in a local IPA beer batter before being thrown in the fryer of the Valentino’s Food Truck.

“This is just a way to get a mix of a lot of different things,” Octetree said.

Kim Joyner of Wake Forest is a big fan of the Food Network and “The Great Food Truck Race.” When she heard there would be a rodeo in downtown Raleigh, she came with ambitions of sampling more than one menu.

“At least three or four,” Joyner said.

Raleigh took a cue from its neighbor to the west in offering food truck rodeos. Durham was the first Triangle city to get things rolling with a rodeo in 2010.

Since then, the Raleigh City Council has adopted ordinances for the mobile restaurants. Two years ago, when considering whether to allow food trucks to operate routinely in the city, council members worried about food safety, the impact on brick-and mortar restaurants, and whether trucks would make scarce parking spots even scarcer.

They also questioned whether trucks would bring crowds, litter and noise.

But the council revisited the issue a year ago and increased the number of food trucks allowed per lot.

Encore rodeos are scheduled for Aug. 11 and Oct. 13.

‘This is pretty big’

By all reports, this gathering this Sunday was bigger than the first, on Mother’s Day.

Dee Dee Black, a volunteer who helped organize and oversee the event, said she only expected them to get bigger and bigger.

Food trucks, often touted as the new incubators of culinary invention, have rounded up big fan clubs in Raleigh.

“This is pretty big,” Black said.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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