Best Ofs and Blowouts

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http://www.citypages.com/bestof/2013/section/food-and-drink-24/

            It’s been quite the wait for our local businesses, but our very own City Pages Magazine just released its “Best Of” listings yesterday for this year. Among the categories, a notable selection in the Food and Drink section is sure to appease many, especially us Food Truck Foodies. Giving quite the strong showing, 5 separate Food Trucks earned a spot in the listings, as well as an interesting little category relating to them (will detail in a bit).

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            With little surprise, Chef Shack came out on top of quite the random category, “Best Restaurant Worth the Drive.” Not just alluding to the oh-so-familiar feeling us Foodies share in tracking Trucks to all their interesting destinations, Chef Shack takes the distance factor up a notch with their recent weekend-open Shop opening in Bay City, Wisconsin (I was wondering what all the recent facebook posts about Bay City were about… thought they just changed locations). Quite the accomplishment for being open for so short a time (I wouldn’t expect any less from our cities’ Food Trucks, especially Chef Shack).

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            Speaking of Truck-turned-Restaurant, Foxy Falafel grabbed best in “To-Go.” As any truck should, Foxy successfully translates the “grab-and-go” aspect of the street to their new digs. Along with their Falafels, to quote the article, “The cold case is also stuffed with snack packs.”

            A particularly fun surprise, keeping the roll of Truck-staurants (phrase patent-pending… excuse the alliteration) going, the selection for “Best Sushi” went to Minneapolis’ very own Sushi Fix. I’ll admit, they’re not my first thought, but I haven’t actually had their full gambit of rolls and nigiri, reviews of which have been wholly positive. And considering the training and history of the main sushi chefs behind the concept, certain levels of success are to be expected.

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              Outside the award, there was something interesting which caught my eye as I read Page’s little “posting” of Fix’s greatness. In my opinions, I cannot help but bring my point-of-view on the specific comment.

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                “Edo-style sushi was served on the streets to the busy city dwellers known for having little patience. Not only is this a perfect business model for a food truck.” Though I certainly agree on the historical notes of Sushi as it relates to Street Food, as well as the commonality between some of the greatest Truck foods and their relation to history. But that doesn’t automatically equate all street foods to food trucks. This is especially true with sushi; not to say that Sushi Fix hasn’t made a great truck out of it, however I don’t think I’d ever equate the general idea of sushi to a “Perfect Model” for a Truck. If you’ve read my review on them, you know why.

              And here is where we start our impasse within this little “Best Of” featurette. For where there are salutations, disappointments are bound to follow, and City Pages just happened to make two very odd, very noticeable disappointments.

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              The first comes in the opposite trend of the previous three, awarding “Best Fries” to the restaurant-turned-truck Anchor Fish and Chips. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to let out a disheartened sigh upon reading this, with quite a few other restaurants and trucks pulling to get to the top of this list. Truthfully, I didn’t even know this one was in the running; maybe they knew the days Page’s guys were dining there, cuz I’m not sure I’ve gotten THAT fry yet (and I’ve been there TWICE). They do make one good point about the fries, though: “If you are looking just for flavor, it is hard to beat the “chips” at the Anchor.”

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              Very wise and accurate words; the one aspect Anchor’s fries has always had was the flavor from the oil (and savory brown potatoes). Now, if you’re looking for any aspects that actually make a good fry/chip, such as uniform/consistent quality and actual texture, then please, please run in the opposite direction.

              Another decision I just can’t help but question comes, sadly, into the actual category of “Best Food Truck.” For some reason, and I don’t quite know why, out of all the Trucks which run our street, they gave the award to Dandelion Kitchen. Actually, hold that, I do know why; heck, they basically come out and say it themselves.

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              “The choice of which truck to visit becomes more harrowing. We get but one lunch break a day! We can’t squander that precious time away from our desks eating subpar food.” Or, to put it simply, the reviewers work in Minneapolis and Dandelion is the closest lunch location, and one of the few consistently-located Trucks, with decent food. Though I think it’s funny they make mention of “precious time” in relation with Dandelion, especially considering the long, slow line I often see during their regular season.

              Certainly I’m not trying to knock Dandelion; as I’ve mentioned a few times in my review on them, they have some really good products, and do some fun home-made sodas. But in the selection of 60+ Trucks our city has generated, many of which have already lauded themselves up to quite epic proportions (and counting at least 6 so far successful enough to open a restaurant), can one truly claim for Dandelion to be THE best? Or is this a decision born from a simple sense of Favoritism formed from multiple visits and the ignorance of our many other hard-working businesses?

            Now I don’t want to end this post on such an objectable note, and there just happens to be one more interesting happening within the listings. I’ve already made a few mentions of some trucks which have opened up shop, and just recently made a visit to one of them. Seems me and the rest of the local foodies aren’t the only ones to take notice, as City Pages awarded the “Best Restaurant Trend” to, as they put it (-clears throat, reading-): “Food trucks go brick-and-mortar.”

           That’s right, the explosion has gone past the insiders and out to the public eye to be an official Trend. I was very excited to see the level of attention, praise, and respect this symbolized. It really shows how many people recognize the importance these Trucks are to our growing culinary culture. Once again, I’m very proud of where they’ve gotten to within these short 4 years. Whether the decisions are debatable or widely accepted, earning these 5 spots within the list is quite the feat; and that’s just this one.

             Can’t wait to see next year’s decisions, all I have to do now is survive the second winter of the year…

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