Last summer the City of Urbana launched a monthly Food Truck Rally during the summer months of June, July, and August. The program returned this summer, and in August it was announced that it would be extended through October. On the last Tuesday of each month, a number of local mobile eateries park at the Urbana Civic Center (108 E Water Street) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and dish out all sorts of lunch options. Because of the location, the event isn’t inundated with U of I students, who are indeed lovely, but sometimes it’s nice to be around a different demographic.
In C-U, you’re likely to find a food truck or three on campus during weekday lunches, but if you aren’t already in the area, it’s a total pain to get there and find parking without committing vehicular manslaughter. The City of Urbana’s Food Truck Rally series is the perfect way to get your fix, taste new food truck foods, while avoiding students.
This week’s Food Truck Rally is the last of the year, and because it is also the week of Halloween, it’s being called “Truck or Treat.” To the morbid that may sound like the plot of a D-horror film (candy, or death by food truck?), but it’s merely a way to blend the family friendly, fun-filled atmosphere of All Hallows’ Eve and food trucks. So punny.
Semantics aside, “Truck or Treat” involves a contest: anyone wearing a family friendly costume will be entered to win a pair of tickets to an Illinois home football game. (Maybe that’s the real trick. Or treat, if you’re into that sort of thing.) But remember — this is a family friendly event, so leave your sexy food truck costume at home. I’m not exactly sure how many school-aged children will be in attendance, because, you know, they should be at school, but this sounds like a fantastic opportunity to entertain a toddler and get at least two uses out of that Halloween costume.
Participating food trucks vary each month, and a list for each month is available on the City of Urbana website. This week’s participating food trucks include: Bento, Burrito King, Chester’s BBQ, Dragon Fire Pizza, Fusilli Tony’s, Maui Wowi, and ROKs Korean BBQ Tacos. Even though the list is slightly fewer than previous months, it still makes for plenty of options for even the pickiest eater. Maui Wowi is a franchise that serves coffee and smoothies, so if you don’t have time to chew and swallow a lunch, you can get one in liquid form. You’re unlikely to be disappointed by any of the options at Chester’s, Dragon Fire, and ROK’s. Those trucks serve solidly good food. At last month’s rally, Chester’s had a brisket Reuben ($9) and a feta-stuffed pork tenderloin slider ($5); how good do those sound? Most food items range in price from $5 to $10, and you can surely feed yourself for less than $10.
The only truck I’d avoid like the plague is new-ish Fusilli Tony’s. Look, I try to find and highlight the most delicious aspect of almost everything I eat, but Fusilli Tony’s makes that task incredibly difficult. In fairness, I ate there only once, so perhaps quality has improved. I disliked it so much though, that I’m not likely to try it again. I’m not about to pay $5 for a small box of overcooked rotini in watered down Prego, you know? It’s just not right. If you’re dishing out Italian food, you better be making your own tomato sauce. It’s not that hard. The signature Sloppy Guiseppe? A $6 mess of yuck between two slices of fairly decent bread. Actually, the bread was pretty good, save for the disgraceful meat sauce that was on it. Oh, and the truck is pretty.
If you have a few minutes after you eat your lunch, you can play some video games at Bento. It’s probably worth picking up some Hello Panda for your 3 o’clock snack. And I heard that video games help with digestion.
This event is great; I wish that it happened every month, even in the winter. Because the participating vendors vary each month, it’s an opportunity to try new food trucks, or new food items from favorite food trucks.
Seating is available inside and out; indoor seating is temperature controlled. The event is scheduled rain or shine, and since it’s looking like rain, bring an umbrella.
All photos by Jessica Hammie, except for top image, which is by the City of Urbana.