And the council declared, "Let there be food trucks in Memphis," and so there were. Lots and lots of food trucks. At least four dozen, as a matter of fact, with the list tirelessly expanding. Two new food trucks have caught the eyes of Memphians as of late, with a flurry of Facebook posts and tweets and Instagramming broadcasting where to find them and what's good.
JoyRide and RAWK'n Grub have joined the ranks of the food truck experience, and just in time for two upcoming food truck festivals — the Great River Indoor Food Truck Festival and Marketplace, this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cook Convention Center, and the Midsouth Food Truck Festival on Saturday, May 7th at Tiger Lane.
JoyRide, owned by Joy Padilla-Anderson, of Memphis, hit the streets less than a month ago, serving up authentic Cuban sandwiches and Latin eats.
Fried plantains ($3), chicken, beef, veggie, or dessert empanadas ($5-$6), yucca ($5), and papa rellenas, or stuffed potatoes, Padilla-Anderson is doing what she knows.
"I moved to Memphis nine years ago from Tampa Bay. I grew up in the restaurant business with my grandmother, and she taught me all her great recipes," Padilla-Anderson says.
She's worked in the local restaurant scene for most of her tenure here, including the Cove and Chiwawa, until one day she took a leap.
"I just raised my hands to my higher power and said, 'Open the next door,'" she says.
Three hours later her father-in-law called.
"He said he had a food truck for me," she says. "I had no idea this was what I was going to be doing. I always planned on opening a restaurant by the time I was 40," Padilla-Anderson says.
In addition to the catering she's been called in for, Padilla-Anderson sets up on Tuesdays at Audubon Park from around 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and at the same time in Court Square on Thursdays.
"It's been great. I've put myself out there, and people love the food," she says.
Steph Cook is finally following his dream of running a food truck. This winter he launched RAWK'n Grub, which presents gastro-pub food using raw, local ingredients with rock-and-roll-themed handles.
"We play with comfort food and put a rockstar spin on it," Cook says.
His No. 1 seller are his C.C. Sliders, made with ground beef chuck, which Cook grinds himself, sirloin brisket, chorizo, and applewood smoked bacon topped with tomato chutney and chipotle aioli ($8.50).
Or his Cheesy Like Sunday Morning, his version of the old standby, grilled cheese, which is layers of smoked gouda pimiento and cheese and fontina grilled on thick-cut wheatberry bread ($7.50).
Cook is not new on the Memphis food scene either, opening Memphis MoJo Cafe in Bartlett as well as cooking at eighty3 in the Madison and Hog & Hominy.
He's been spotted at the Ridgeway Loop, the Baptist Memorial Hospital campus, St. Jude, and other locations, changing it up to keep people interested.
"We've been catching a lot of traction. We've had good responses on Facebook, and we just started getting on Yelp," he says. "I love it. I'm having a blast."
The Great River Indoor Food Truck Festival and Marketplace happens this Saturday in the Memphis Cook Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Look for more than 14 food trucks, a beer garden featuring local brews, live music by eight local performers, and local vendors. Tickets are $5, which goes toward the Hospitality Hub. For more information, visit the Great River Indoor Food Truck Festival and Marketplace Facebook page or go to www.ticketoven.com/foodtruckfestival for tickets.
For more information about the Midsouth Food Truck Festival in May, go to http://www.midsouthfoodtruckfest.com. Admission is $5, $2 for kids ages 5 to 12.