Chocolate Wasted Ice Cream & Treats Truck Hits the Houston Streets Friday

Photo courtesy Olivia Luisa Garcia
Chocolate Wasted Ice Cream & Treats will open for business Friday, August 22.
Remember when you were a kid and would hear the jingle of the ice cream truck coming down the street?

Nowadays, we tend to get our ice cream and popsicles from either the grocery store or one of the various ice cream shops around town. Yes, these are great, but what happened to the right to your neighborhood experience that traditional ice cream trucks provided? And again, that jingle?

A new updated version is about to hit the streets of Houston. Susan Sahwani-Garcia, owner of Chocolate Wasted Ice Cream & Treats, originally wanted to open a homemade ice cream mobile eatery, but as she began developing her project and realized how expensive that would be, she decided to start her business as a traditional ice cream truck selling all the classic treats and local products.

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Ladybird Food Truck Not for the Birds

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Ladybird Grilled Cheese
Here's one more reason to visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, especially on Thursdays: Ladybird food truck. Officially open 6 p.m. to 8.p.m. (though they arrive earlier and will happily take orders), Ladybird fuels art enthusiasts, strolling couples, and passing motorists (those, that is, who decide to stop rather than just rubberneck).

Ladybird does not, in case you were wondering, showcase the beloved fare of the late wife of Lyndon B. Johnson. Unless, of course, the former first lady was a rabid fan of truffle tater tots.

The seasonally rotating menu features a few variation of dishes that have come to be staples on the H-town food truck scene, such as a kimchi dog, a hill country sausage covered in (you guess it) kimchi, chives, and spicy aioli.

More alluring, however, are their fun tweaks on tradition.

This story continues on the next page.

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Learn About Houston's Newest Food Trucks in This Week's Feature

Photo courtesy Sticky's Chicken
Sticky's Chicken is one of many new food trucks to hit the streets recently.
Yesterday, we told you about the trend of food trucks turning into brick and mortar restaurants. Perhaps trend isn't the right word, though. Some food truck owners will tell you it's a necessity or that it was the plan all along. Who wants to work on a food truck forever?

Judging by the number of trucks that have opened in the past year, plenty of people are perfectly content to sling food on a truck for the time being. Yes, a food truck can be a stepping stone to bigger things, but it's also a business and it provides a career for a chef/owner unsure of what to do next. Some people choose to get their starts on trucks, showing off their skills for the first time to hungry customers while parked outside a bar. Others are getting back into a kitchen through whatever means possible, even if said kitchen happens to be on wheels.

We asked the city for a list of all the trucks that have been granted permits in the past year to find out exactly how many new trucks have opened. What we got back was a 92-page list of all the permitted trucks in the city--every old truck, every taco truck, every snow cone stand and every random truck that seems to have no online presence. Still, we were able to identify more than 25 trucks that are relatively new to the Houston scene.

Check out this week's feature story for an in-depth look at five of the new trucks on the block, and peruse this list for the rest of the latest and greatest in mobile cuisine.

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As More Food Trucks Go Brick & Mortar, the Houston Scene Evolves

Photo by Troy Fields
Good Dog Houston parked the truck and in favor of a restaurant last year.
This week's cover story (online tomorrow and in this week's print edition) looks at five exciting new food trucks that have opened in Houston in the past year and at how the local food truck scene is evolving.

Three or four years ago, a new wave of gourmet food trucks were just starting to pop up around town. They didn't necessarily eclipse the classic taco trucks that still dominate areas like Long Point Road and East Downtown, but they did make a big impression on the Bayou City.

Now, several years after the initial influx, it seems a new truck is popping up every week. It's cheaper than starting a restaurant--that's the reasoning provided by most mobile chefs--and it allows the freedom to create something new every day or every few days. At restaurants, where a chef is generally serving a greater number of people and planning further in advance, the menu needs to needs to be more constant. On food trucks, where chefs are serving fewer people (most of the time) and working with less storage space, new specials can be created daily. And when they run out, they're out.

Many chefs will tell you a food truck isn't the ultimate goal, though. They want to open restaurants, and food trucks are merely stepping stones on the way to a full fledged eatery.

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Midtown Mobile Cuisine, Houston's Newest Food Park, Hopes to Bring the Party

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Ren Garrett and Robert Stokes enjoy the shade at Midtown Mobile Cuisine.
At first, I didn't even notice it. The sounds of I-59 echo around the concrete lot and the grassy underpass. A light breeze ruffles the leaves on a few nearby trees. Syncopated beats pour forth from speakers on a table in the center of a raised deck. From one corner of the lot, a man leans his head out the window of a truck and yells that the grill is fired up.

And then I realize why this scene is so strange. It's quiet. I'm surrounded by food trucks ready to cook hot meals, and there aren't any generators drowning out the sounds of my own thoughts.

"I really do want this to be a food truck haven," Ren Garrett, owner of Midtown Mobile Cuisine tells me. "They don't have to worry about anything. That's why we have plug-ins. That's how we're able to have a DJ out here, because all those generators aren't going."

It's not one of those food parks in a grassy lot with shade from old oaks keeping diners cool in the summer. It's a concrete slab near where I-59 and Highway 288 meet, but it does feel like a haven of sorts in a gritty Midtown neighborhood. There are lawn chairs and wrought iron tables with bright orange umbrellas providing shade and a deck where a DJ is set up to play music for the evening's crowd.

If a crowd ever comes.

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How to Screw Up Your Order at The Waffle Bus

Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Be sure to read the menu...or just don't be an idiot.
It's totally my own fault. I was so excited by my first visit to The Waffle Bus that I completely disregarded the words on the menu. I had, of course, been trying to order one of the bus's famous waffles. Instead, my fiancé and I ordered two kinds of "waffle fryders" -- the fried chicken and the cheeseburger -- to share.

Waffle fryders. It was right there in the name. Fryders. I should have questioned it. Instead, I grabbed a lemonade at Inversion (because that's how you win at life) and waited for my "waffle" sliders to be ready.

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Way Good Food Truck Really Is Way Good

Photos by Molly Dunn
Way Good Food Truck sits outside West Alabama Ice House every day from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
"This is way good," my fiancé and I unintentionally said to each other after taking one bite from our fried mac and cheese balls from Way Good Food Truck. Yes, the mobile eatery's name is a bit pretentious and forefront in describing its food, but you can't blame a food service for being proud of its products, can you?

Way Good Food Truck held its grand opening on Friday, May 14, and has set up shop daily since then at the corner of West Alabama Ice House, inviting customers to grab some greasy, indulgent food and sit down at one of the many picnic tables outside. Ice cold beer, plus burgers, nachos and fries, make for one heck of a combination.

After creating their catering company, Way Good Food, LLC in October 2013, sisters Karen and Kathryn Fergus took over the Greek gyro food truck Papou Jerry's and turned it into Way Good Food in December 2013. Karen is the chef and Kathryn is the director of marketing and operations. They refurbished the truck and turned it into the bright-blue mobile eatery that sits on the corner of West Alabama Ice House seven days a week.

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Menchie's Frozen Yogurt Food Truck Has Arrived

Photos by Molly Dunn
The first frozen yogurt food truck has landed, Houston.
Menchie's Frozen Yogurt has established a presence in Houston during the past several months. The franchise has 15 locations in Houston and the surrounding area, and now it can say it has the first frozen yogurt food truck in Houston.

On Friday, March 7, Menchie's opened its bright pink froyo truck outside the shop on West 19th Street. Although it looks exactly like a regular food truck, it's completely different. Rather than opening up the windows for service, the truck opens a side panel revealing six frozen yogurt flavors in three sections, each with a middle dispenser to swirl the two adjacent flavors.

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Ladybird Food Truck's Globally Inspired Fare Shines

Photo by Brooke Viggiano
A spicy Hill Country sausage makes Ladybird's kimchi dog sing.
It took me way too long to stop by the burnt-orange school bus that is Ladybird Food Truck (they've been hitting the streets since 2011). Now that I've gotten a taste of what they have to offer, I know it won't take me so long to go back.

Last Saturday, my fiancé and I were strolling around Montrose, trying to figure out what to eat when we spotted the truck parked outside of Inversion Coffee House. One look at the menu of globally inspired comfort food and we were quickly staking out tables for lunch.

We ordered the Yardbird ($7.25) -- a fried chicken sandwich topped with mayo, Swiss cheese, sweet pickles and a schmaltz jam; and the Kimchi Dog ($8.00) -- a Hill Country sausage sandwich smothered with kimchi and jack cheese. Two Inversion lemonades and ten minutes later, our food was ready.

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The Modular Food Truck Is Back, Better than Ever

Photo courtesy The Modular Unit
With a new paint job and a menu full of hits, this restaurant on wheels is really going places.
Though incredibly popular and well received by critics, The Modular food truck (actually a trailer) had a surprisingly short run. It opened in 2011, helmed by Joshua Martinez and Lyle Bento. At the time, Martinez was fresh off a stint as general manager of Kata Robata, and Bento was an up-and-coming chef who'd recently left Feast. Bento eventually moved to Underbelly, and Martinez made the slow transition from food-truck owner to restaurant owner when he opened Goro & Gun in early 2013. The move was gradual, with the truck still coming out to play at events every now and then, though Martinez was focusing most of his attention on Goro & Gun. Then one day The Modular returned to the commissary, where it remained for far longer than anyone would have liked.

Now that Goro & Gun is thriving, Martinez doesn't need to be there as frequently, so he's brought The Modular back to life, along with help from Mark Parmley and a motley crew of guest chefs. The trailer, which was previously referred to as the "Tin Can" due to some unfortunate metal siding, has been replaced with a truck that's been completely revamped and now features a bright new paint job by Houston graffiti artist Daniel Anguilu. And it's now called the "Goro & Gun Modular Unit," since it incorporates menu items from both eateries.

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