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Food truck review: At Rare Earth Farms, everything is scratch-made, except the bun

The Barnyard is one of several burgers served on the Rare Earth Farms food truck.
The Barnyard is one of several burgers served on the Rare Earth Farms food truck. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Chances are, the Rare Earth Farms name might ring a bell, even if you’ve never come across the truck in your pursuit of mobile munchies.

You may well have bought a couple of rib-eyes from them to cook at home at some point if you frequent the State Farmers Market, where Rare Earth Farms has been selling humanely raised beef and lamb since 2007.

That’s when friends Karl Hudson, who owns a farm in Zebulon, and Mann Mullen, whose farm is just down the road in Bunn, decided to pool their resources. Both have long been proponents of sustainable agriculture, so the match was, you might say, a natural.

And the natural next step, given the popularity of the food truck movement, was to take their show on the road. The Rare Earth Farms truck hit the road in 2016. The specialty, it will come as no surprise to learn, is burgers made with Rare Earth Farms grass-fed (and, as Hudson will proudly tell you, grass-finished) Angus beef.

The menu typically lists half a dozen variations on the theme, ranging from the basic Farmer’s Classic (with applewood-smoked bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, Duke’s mayo, leaf lettuce and tomato) to the over-the-top Haystack (brie, bacon, crispy potato strings, spicy green tomato relish, lettuce, cracked black pepper aioli and BBQ sauce). The Wolfpack (chipotle beef chili, house-made slaw, onion, pepper jack cheese and creole mustard) is a best-seller.

Pretty much everything but the bun is made from scratch, and produce is sourced locally whenever possible. On that score, being a couple of farmers with more farmers as neighbors can’t hurt.

Those connections also come in handy when it comes to making the handful of sandwiches on the menu. You can generally count on two vegetarian options: the Bella (the truck’s take on a veggie burger, featuring a balsamic-marinated portobello mushroom cap) and — another best-seller — the Green Garden (fried green tomato, goat cheese, caramelized onion, house-pickled jalapeño and homemade Ranch dressing).

The fried green tomato is also available as an a la carte side, along with a handful of other options, including fried pickle chips, a creamy, coarse-cut coleslaw, and excellent hand-cut fries.

The cornucopia of produce also spills over onto the list of build-your-own burger toppings. There were 33 of them (I counted) when I was there, including a half-dozen premium options such as avocado slices, sautéed mushrooms and a fried egg.

That said, after devouring a Farmer’s Classic, it’s enough to know that the beef (one-third pound, with the rich flavor characteristic of grass-fed) is itself ample reason to track down the truck. Next time, I’m seriously considering building my own burger with my go-to purist toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. OK, maybe I’ll add cheese.

Rare Earth Farms

Prices: burgers and sandwiches $8-10, sides $3-5

Website: rareearthfarms.com

Twitter: @REF_Truck

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