These are blackened haddock tacos with Southwest slaw, a recent Friday lunch special at PB&J's Lunch Box on James, the recently opened storefront version of Pat Orr's popular PB&J's Lunch Box food truck.
PB&J's is perhaps best known for Pat's signature grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a gooey, slightly crunchy delight, thanks to the addition of chopped pecans. The sandwich earned Pat the Judge's Choice award in September at the first food truck competition at the New York State Fair.
The "brick and mortar'' location is at 989 James St., in the Imperial Gardens apartment building. It's tucked a little out of the way, in the small space that chef Steve LeClair and Steve's Street Eats called home for a couple years. It later became Paul's Street Eats, with chef Paul Cox at the helm. Pat says she didn't plan to open a restaurant, but when opportunity knocked, she said yes. After Street Eats closed, Orr spent a week cleaning and freshening the space and making the kitchen and counter area more open and efficient. She opened PB&J's Lunch Box in early February, with help from a small team, including chef and kitchen manager Kelly Robertson.
I visited PB&J's Lunch Box on James recently for -- what else? -- lunch. Standing items, like Orr's now-famous grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, "huge" grilled cheese sandwich, muffuletta and turkey club sandwich are listed on a big chalkboard menu. Daily specials, including soups, plates and a grilled cheese of the day, are posted each morning on the PB&J's Facebook page. The specials when I visited included a shrimp po'boy and the blackened haddock tacos. The tacos were a nice change of pace from the traditional Friday fish fry: two soft tacos filled with spicy chunks of blackened haddock, a zippy Southwest-style slaw, a drizzle of citrus cream and garnish of cilantro. I would order them again, no problem, or try something different, like Pat's "killer chili,'' a Caesar salad or the grilled cheese of the day.
Pat has developed a loyal following with her food truck. She's already rolled it out for a couple of special events and plans to set up at the weekly Syracuse Food Truck Association food truck rodeos when they resume in April at the Lyncourt Plaza, 2301 Teall Ave. The rodeos are held on Wednesdays, weather permitting.
Until then, you can enjoy Pat's food at PB&J's Lunch Box on James. The restaurant is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. Morning offerings include coffee, homemade blueberry muffins and breakfast sandwiches. In addition to lunch specials, a different earlybird dinner special is offered each day. Eat in or get it to-go. There's patio seating in warmer weather -- like today.
PB&J's Lunch Box is at 989 James St., Syracuse. Information: 476-3287, Facebookwebsite
Food trucks ready to roll: Read more about local food trucks in this week's Syracuse New Times.Click here.