From deep-friend peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to udon noodle Asian stir-fry to Filipino-style eggrolls filled with seasoned beef and pork to artisan wood-fired pizza to tater tots smothered in spicy sauce -- there's a food truck offering to suit every taste.
It took some time for them to catch on in Syracuse and it took some time for them to find a regular home, but if you have an adventurous appetite and an appreciation for "street eats,'' get yourself over to the weekly Food Truck Rodeos, held from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Wednesday, in the parking lot of the Cosmopolitan Building, 1153 W. Fayette St., Syracuse.
Everything and anything that can be prepared in a cramped kitchen and plated and served out the window of a truck or trailer (or from a cart) can be found at these events.
We visited the Food Truck Rodeo at suppertime on May 6, after the official hours of the food truck rodeo and before the first "Flicks al Fresco'' outdoor movie offering of the season, which, appropriately, was "Chef,'' a sweet movie about a fine-dining chef who rediscovers his creative promise as a food truck operator.
The food truck rodeos, an offering of the newly formed Syracuse Food Truck Association, got underway in April and were originally scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and continue through 6 p.m. each week. But the vendors were running out of food earlier than anticipated and hours have been reduced, according to Michael John Heagerty, of NOExcuses Tours, who is helping to promote the events and is hosting the "Flicks al Fresco" film series with Nomad Cinema. The rodeos now run until 3:30 p.m., give or take, and several trucks stay on hand or come in later in the afternoon to feed the "Flicks al Fresco'' crowd.
The week we visited, about a half-dozen trucks were there before the movie (which is shown on a huge outdoor screen), including PB&J's Lunch Box, Shattuck's Paddy Wagon, Sarita's Mmmpanadas, Oompa Loompyas, Mami's Kitchen and Toss 'n' Fire Wood-Fired Pizza.
We sampled as much as we could.
Sarita Ruiz's empanadas (hand-formed, deep-fried Spanish-style pastries) went down easy. We shared an order of three ($6): beef and cheese, chicken, cilantro and lime and chicken and cheese -- kind of redundant, but she was running low on offerings. The chicken cilantro lime had nice, subtle flavor, while the beef and cheese packed more punch and a bit of heat. It's hard to resist deep fried dough with meat and cheese inside. I'd order both of these again, no problem.
Last stop was Toss 'n' Fire Wood-Fired Pizza for a basic Margherita pizza (basil, mozzarella and tomato; $9). These are personal-sized pizzas cooked in a mobile, wood-fired oven. We would have liked the crust a little more brown and a little less dough-y, but these guys are just getting started. We'll be back to try a Fig and Pig (fig preserves, mozzarella, gorgonzola and prosciutto) and 'Cuse Salt Potato pizza (caramelized onions, cheddar, mozzarella, bacon and thinly sliced salt potatoes).
I went back to the Food Truck Rodeo at lunchtime on a subsequent Wednesday and found the vendors doing a brisk business. A couple tables were set-up, and people were chowing down outside, even on a chilly, overcast day. The Korean chicken tacos from The Chicken Bandit ($3.25 each) were worth the drive across town, a delicious medley of tastes, textures and seasonings, with a little heat.
Can't make it to the Food Truck Rodeo on Wednesdays? Good news: A second Food Truck Rodeo is now being held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays at Missio Church, 620 W. Genesee St., Syracuse. Bring your appetite, your friends and your co-workers and check out what's cookin' from these culinary entrepreneurs who take to the streets of Syracuse and Central New York.