We’ve got a thriving food truck scene here in Champaign-Urbana. We have food trucks of all kinds, ones that sell tacos, burgers, chicken sandos, gyros, ice cream, and more. I love that food truck food is all packaged to go, which means I can take it home to eat — or go goblin mode and scarf it down in the front seat of my car.
A food truck I’ve been hooked on lately is Garro’s Taste of the City, a new-ish truck that opened this summer. The red truck brings a taste of Chicago to C-U and parks at the Shell station at the corner of Washington and Lierman in Urbana most days of the week. The Black-owned business is run by Garro and his fiancée. I really like the truck’s juicy, dipped Italian beef, but for this review, I passed on the Bulls beef and chose to order some other items from the truck’s Chicago-themed menu.
Garro’s Taste of the City has a wide range of menu options: chopped steakburgers, a spicy chicken sandwich, South Side taco, White Sox burger, and a beef pizza puff. Most items are inexpensive ranging from $4 to $8. Everything I ordered — even the entree combos with fries and a drink — were under $10, which makes Garro’s Taste of the City one of the more affordable options in town.
There’s a sign on the truck that reads, “Please be patient with us. Everything is cooked to order.” It did take some time — about twenty minutes — for my order to be ready, but I can totally be patient for good food. Do not to expect fast food from this truck; prepare to wait patiently.
I ordered a chicken Philly combo, a city dog, Midwest gyro fries, and the Windy City wings combo. Combinations are $2 more than the entree price and come with a side of fries and a can of Faygo soda. In hindsight, it was a lot of fries, but I regret nothing.
I’ll start with the best: the Windy City chicken wings combo ($9.99). The five fried wings were insanely good, and the beautifully golden exterior looked so appetizing. Even after a drive home in a styrofoam box, the chicken was hot, and the skin still had an audible crunch. The lemon-Parmesan seasoning added a delicious sour-salty flavor to the wings. You already know I love wings, and these were superb fried chicken wings. If you try Garro’s Taste of the City, order the wings.
The seasoned fries carried out pretty well; most stayed crispy though a few of the fries did wilt in transit.
Maybe not the most appealing based on appearance, but the Midwest gyro fries ($7.99) were absolutely delicious. The entire container was packed with fries topped with gyro meat, queso, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, tzatziki sauce, and shredded cheddar. Some of the fries were crispy while others were deliciously softened under queso. The cheesy sauce pooled in the bottom of the container, and any fries that weren’t covered, I dragged through the queso. The Mediterranean spices on the gyro meat were great and super flavorful. The thin slices of meat were bite-sized and fit perfectly over a fry. There wasn’t much tomato or lettuce, but I didn’t mind. The dish was huge with so much meat and fries that we couldn’t finish it all — even though we wanted to.
We also tried the chicken Philly cheesesteak combo ($9.99), which was a soft bun with chopped chicken, queso, green peppers, onions, tomato, mayo, lettuce, and cheddar with fries and a soda. Shredded cheese plus queso plus mayo? God bless. The melted cheddar strings had a great cheese pull, but it was the queso for me. The chopped grilled chicken was straight up drowning in queso, and it was yummy. I wish there were more onions and peppers on the sandwich, though. The diced bell peppers were tasty, cooked just enough to get a warm char but still tender crisp. The fries were good: seasoned and still warm.
Lastly, I tried the city dog ($3.99), which was a beef hot dog with relish, mustard, pickles, sport peppers, onion, and sadly, a little bit of ketchup. I’m not from Chicago, but I know that’s a Chicago dog sin. The bun wasn’t poppyseed, either, but this hot dog was clearly Garro’s take on a Chicago dog — specifically not called a Chicago dog but a city dog — and the taste was good. The yellow mustard and raw onion with the beefy dog served the flavors I wanted. The dog had a great snap, and the sport peppers had a spicy, juicy pop. Tangy pickles added some crunch. The diced relish was super tasty and seemed like it was made in house. Sadly, the bun suffered in transit, but city dogs are street food and meant to be eaten right away. If I had eaten it right away instead of snapping photos for you, sweet hungry reader, there might not have been a soggy bun. I suggest if you get a city dog, specify your ketchup preference — and eat it immediately.
One small caveat about the truck: In my quest to review it, I went to the Shell station a little after 11 a.m. one day, and the truck was not there yet. Aim to arrive around 11:30 to 12 p.m. to definitely catch the truck for lunch.
All in all, the flavors are there, and the service is friendly. The truck is parked in the same spot Wednesday through Saturday, so there’s no chasing it around town. It’s awesome to have a new truck in the food scene in Champaign-Urbana, especially one that offers so much at inexpensive prices.
Garro’s Taste of the City
1511 E Washington St
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.