Meals on wheels
RN&R’s resident foodie found the food trucks
Schnitzel’s Austrian Grill serves up authentic schnitzel ($8.75) with a selection of pork, chicken or haddock, available as a platter with your choice of two sides, or as a ciabatta sandwich ($6.95) served with lettuce and tomato. Both come with a condiment of your choice. Additional condiments are $1.50 and include fancy housemade preparations. Similarly, housemade sides are available. I recommend the cranberry horseradish cream and basil pesto mayo. Chilled chickpea, cucumber and warm potato salads were all delicious. For a cross-cultural twist, try the currywurst ($4.75 ciabatta, $6.75 platter with fries), a grilled bratwurst slathered in a sweet and spicy curry sauce.Doughnut, meet meat
Tahoe Tenderloins’ signature dish, the classic tenderloin ($8), is a Midwest favorite. This pork fillet is pounded flat like a schnitzel—though thinner and twice the width—and breaded in a cracker-crumb mixture. It’s placed somewhat awkwardly on a hamburger bun with lettuce, red onion, pickle and tomato. I tried a bite with the bun for full effect, then ditched the bread. The meat was so tender it was literally being held together by the slightly sweet coating, with a scent and flavor reminiscent of fresh, raised doughnuts, sans glaze. Soup and salad is also available, as well as a sandwich featuring housemade mild Italian sausage ($8). I didn’t get a bite because my hungry friend polished it off while I was enjoying my pork pastry.Fresh catch
Chef John Smee of Smee’s Alaskan Fish Bar worked 40 years as an Alaskan fisherman, and fishermen don’t eat at sea unless they learn how to cook. Smee’s fish and chips ($12) might be the best I’ve ever had. The fried batter is thinner than most, very crispy, allowing giant flakes of moist, high-quality fish to really shine. Similarly, the fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce are above average and full of atypical flavor. Other menu items include a very nice cod chowder ($5) and fried and grilled seafood specials (prices vary). If fries aren’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with a seven-piece basket of that amazing fish ($15) with a side of slaw for an extra buck.Skip the line
The Codfather truck’s best attribute is online ordering, allowing you to use your smartphone to skip waiting in line. The Captain’s Platter ($12.75) includes a side of coleslaw, two pieces of battered cod, breaded shrimp, clam strips, scallops and an oyster, served with tartar and cocktail sauces. The breaded items were pretty good, with the scallops a stand-out. The fries were OK, but the slaw was a bit bland. The fish was disappointing, crispy at first but progressively softer as the coating of thick batter sucked moisture out of the fish. My daughter enjoyed a side of corn fritters, doused in an agave chipotle sauce ($3).Slice and roll
Starkey’s serves two great tastes that go great together, pizza and sushi—wait, what? Featuring a beautiful wood-fired oven, it’s the creation of a veteran Lake Tahoe sushi chef. And it works. The 11-inch Classico cheese pizza ($10) was crispy with a decent sauce and a generous portion of mozzarella. The sushi menu features mostly classics—California roll, spicy tuna, etc.—but there are specials available. I tried a spicy scallop hand roll ($7.50) with crispy salmon skin, cucumber, and—of course—wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce on the side. I was surprised at how good it was, so I can confirm it is possible to serve tasty sushi from a truck. And wash it down with pizza.Hot packets
The Sublime food truck has a short-and-sweet selection of subs and wraps with the usual accoutrements, but there was one item I had to try. The Hot Mess ($7 sm., $8.50 lg.) is a hot pastrami sandwich with habañero jack cheese. I doubled down and chose jalapeño jack bread. The proprietress of the truck confirmed, “a very wise choice.” She was right. I’ve had a lot of pastrami sandwiches—and I’ve cooked more than a few—but this baby was stacked. It was hot both ways and super satisfying.Veg out
Nom Eats is one of only a couple of vegan trucks in the area. The menu is burritos, sandwiches and tacos made with veggies and either tofu or seitan—a Japanese wheat gluten meat substitute—with various ingredients including vegan “cheese.” I went with the Philly cheese on a toasted hoagie roll ($10). The “beef” actually had a reasonably meaty texture, though none of the umami of beef. And the “cheesey sauce” was tasty but didn’t resemble real cheese. The dominant flavors were a rainbow of bell peppers with sliced pepperoncini and portabello mushroom. Not bad, but not my first choice.Wine not?
Winey Munkies is part of a very niche trend, that of ice cream and sorbets created with wine. For $5 you get a generous scoop. The chocolate merlot sorbet was very smooth with an enlightening flavor combination. The strawberry pinot grigio ice cream basically tasted like … strawberry ice cream. It was good, but I couldn’t have distinguished it from a non-alcoholic strawberry product.And the runners up …
There are also various food stands at food trucks events, and a few deserve honorable mentions:
The Rub Shack is all about barbecue. The tri-tip pesto sandwich ($9), served on a Dutch crunch roll, was full of flavor. The salmon in the tacos ($6) was grilled well, and the ginger-citrus sauce was a nice complement. Best of all, the bourbon and Coke ribs were fall-off-the-bone perfect ($2 per bone). The rub was great, but the just-enough-bite sauce was outta sight. Best sauce I’ve tasted recently that didn’t come from my own kitchen.
Fire On The Mountain sports an Italian wood-fired oven on a trailer, fed by a group of guys who have a passion for pizza. Their crust wasn’t as bottom-crisp as I prefer, but the sauce was zesty, the edges were nice and chewy, and my selection of three-cheese plus mushroom ($11) was a success. A little more fire on the bottom and this would be a perfect 11-inch pie.
Peluso’s Mobile Rotisserie featured a whole hog in a gas-fired rotisserie, trussed-up in the style of pancetta and served with lettuce, etc., on an Italian roll ($8). They also had a mixed shellfish roll that was pretty tasty ($12), but the pig had all my attention. Holy moly, it was a feast for the eyes and palate. Papa Peluso—of Peluso’s Pizza in Reno—waved us over to take a gander at the star of the show. Drooltastic. Ω