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Capital City Food Truck Festival
Capital City Food Truck Festival
The Capital City Food Truck Festival
Thousands of Topekans and regional gastronomes flocked to Gage Park Friday and Saturday to attend the first ever Capital City Food Truck Festival. The free event was hosted by Visit Topeka Inc., Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, and Country Legends 106.9. Thirteen food trucks from northeast Kansas converged on SW Zoo Parkway to showcase their culinary offerings.
The small town feel that I love about Topeka certainly made itself known as greetings and laughter were exchanged between the long meandering lines of people awaiting their turn for some truly fantastic and diverse food. An amalgam of aromas permeated the air at the center of the food truck queue with wisps of earthy coffee, smoky sausages, Asian and Hawaiian blends of teriyaki sauce, along with occasional scents of charcoal and the exhaust of the food trucks.
In addition the phenomenal food, three concerts were held at the Gage Park amphitheater and a variety of vendors pitched tents throughout the park to display their wares. The carousel, train, and zoo all extended their hours to commemorate the event and all saw an increase in business as families and friends rallied to support the event. I'm going to walk you briefly through each of the food trucks and finish with some thoughts about Gage Park.
Map of Gage Park for the Event
Nobel House Hawaiian Plate
Our first stop was the Nobel House food truck. This truck is a Topeka native that is often found around 10th Avenue and Jackson. Their focus on Hawaiian cuisine led us to choose it first out of the other trucks in spite of the two hour long line Friday evening of the Festival.
The best item on their menu in my humble opinion is the Poke'. Which Noble House makes with fresh Ahi tuna soaked in their own blend of soy and sesame oil and sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds. This goes over a bed of rice. Succulent and juicy and well worth the $10 price tag found at the event.
Other items offered for the festival included Garlic Shrimp which sold out very quickly, teriyaki chicken, and katsu chicken each dish served with ample amounts of rice and a heaping scoop of noodle salad. Katsu chicken is a fried chicken topped with Tonkatsu sauce, a tasty blend of ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, worcestershire sauce and red pepper for a bit of heat.We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Nobel House in spite of the ridiculous line on Friday evening.
The Nobel House on Facebook
Pics of The Noble House
The Purple Carrot Co-op
Hailing from Lawrence, The Purple Carrot truck specializes in organic, vegetarian fare. I went straight for their black bean burger and was not disappointed. It was a mouthful of flavor. Some mad culinary genius had created a fantastic black bean and sweet potato patty, cooked it on a flat top, coated it in a tangy organic house made ketchup and a thick slice of cheddar cheese and then slapped it between two thick slices of toasted crispy bread with some greens. I was very impressed.
Other purple carrot menu items for the day included a refreshing chocolate avocado smoothie made with avocado, vegan chocolate chips, coconut milk, and agave nectar. I'm still pondering over the creation of vegan chocolate chips. They also offered a black bean stout chili again with the black beans and sweet potatoes, and the addition of stout, mushrooms, and chocolate. It was great to see a vegetarian offering in the midst of so many carnivorous choices.
Purple Carrot on Facebook
Pics from The Purple Carrot
The Hot Dog Dude
The Hot Dog Dude was the truck of choice for the two year old. She ate a hotdog Friday while we were in line waiting for the Nobel House and again on Saturday while we were waiting in line at Nice Guys. The Hot Dog Dude offers hotdogs and sausages from Herman Meat, an old fashioned meat market that's been a Topeka icon since the 1950's with unparalleled quality and flavor. This is a truly mobile food truck which roams all over Topeka, if you want to find it check their Facebook page.
The Hot Dog Dude on Facebook
The Hot Dog Dude
The Nice Guys Hot Box
Nice guys has a non-mobile location in the Oakland area of Topeka and the truck is usually at Performance Tire on the corner of North Kansas Avenue across from Garfield Park, although it does get around for charity events. This truck had a limited menu of two of their most popular sandwiches, the Philly and the Nice Guy. The Philly was fabulous, with perfectly cooked thinly sliced steak, huge mushrooms, peppers, onions, and a gooey white cheese sauce. The Nice Guy sandwich featured the same steak with onions and cheese whiz.
The Nice Guys on Facebook
Pics From the Nice Guys Hot Box
Coffee Cake KC
Coffee Cake KC is a mobile café featuring amazing cupcakes from Three Women and an Oven, and organic coffee concoctions made with Mother Earth Coffee, and their very own smoothies. They are a Kansas City based food truck and seem to have a fairly regular travel schedule throughout the Kansas City and Olathe areas. We saw hundreds of their cupcakes and smoothies roaming Zoo Parkway.
Coffee Cake KC on Facebook
Coffee Cake KC Pics
Taqueria Mexico Lindo
I've heard that some of the best tamales in Topeka comes from Taqueria. This mobile mecca of Mexican mastication can usually be found in downtown Topeka around 6th and Kansas doling out a vast menu. They offer tacos, sandwiches, burritos, breakfast burritos, combination plates, menudo, nachos, the list goes on and on. I have even heard rumors of a mythical Cuban Sandwich. They wisely shortened the menu for the Food Truck Festival and were a popular choice at the event.
Taqueria on Facebook
HHB BBQ LLC
Hog, Herd, and a Bird (HHB) Barbeque is currently in the process or rebuilding their down town Topeka business after a fire, so I was pleased to see their mustard colored mobile BBQ unit at the Festival. According to their Facebook page they sold to over 800 customers on Friday alone and ran out of almost everything. Their pulled pork nachos are becoming a down town staple, along with their smoky brisket.
HHB BBQ LLC
X Marks the Spot
X Marks the spot is another native Topeka food truck. Usually found around 10th and Topeka Boulevard, they offer a wide range of gourmet burgers, dogs, wings, fries, and even pickle fries. They make all their own sauces including an incredible beer cheese and a powerful garlic mayo.Check out their Facebook page or website to track them down. I'm not the only foodie that appreciates the level of care these guys put into their food.
Notes from a Fellow Topeka Foodie about X Marks the Spot
X Marks the Spot
Ice and Olives
With gourmet sandwiches, house made soups, and mac and cheese, Ice and Olives was another of food trucks present at the event. This Topeka truck doesn't seem able to settle on a home location and roams all over the place. They also have a little gourmet grocery store on 29th and Croco. They have mixed reviews online, with a lot of folks comparing it to Panera. I didn't get a chance to try it this weekend, because it had some of the longest lines, but I'm putting it high on my to do list.
Ice and Olives on Facebook and Twitter
- Ice And Olives (@Ice_and_Olives) | Twitter
The latest Tweets from Ice And Olives (@Ice_and_Olives). Topeka's Premier Specialty Market, Delicatessen and Coffee Shop. We serve Boar's Head meats and cheeses and PT's coffee. Fine Fare gourmet dining on Fri/Sat!. Topeka, KS
Twisted Asian is a Kansas City food truck with an interesting twist on Asian flavors. They have shrimp tacos, twisted pulled pork sliders or tacos, chicken teriyaki tacos, spring rolls, nachos, bubble tea and so on. Their complete menu is available on their Facebook page. I didn't get a chance to snap a pic because of the swarms of people surrounding the truck. I was unable to sample the food because they ran out too fast. I hope to see them again at future food truck festivals because their popularity was without equal at the Festival.
Twisted Asian on Facebook
The Snowball Palace
The Snowball Palace Truck was a welcome sight on Saturday after the rain cleared and the sun decided to come out. The Snowball Palace has an endless variety of old fashioned snowballs, which are a bit like snow cones but larger and with fluffier, softer ice. Their list of varieties is impressive with flavors like Georgia Peach, Tangerine, and Amaretto. I couldn't find them online anywhere, but I'm pretty sure I've seen them around town before.
Big Boyz BBQ
Not about to let HHB BBQ have all the fun, Big Boyz BBQ was also on hand at the festival. This food truck provides smoked meats, gourmet tacos, pasta, and a variety of sides like herb roasted griddle potatoes and spicy coleslaw. You can usually find this truck in St. Marys, Kansas around Maple Street. They provide catering and what their chef, Bobby Santacroce refers to as gourmet vending.
Big Boyz Website
- Big Boyz
Catering, Gourmet Concessions, BBQ,
Big Boys BBQ Truck
The Moose Truck
Conspicuously absent Friday, The Moose Truck finally made an appearance on Saturday and began selling fried Twinkies and a modified version of their usually vast menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, tacos, BBQ, etc. If you follow my hubs you already know my opinion of the blue moose and shouldn't be surprised that I was not in the line. I admit I was tempted by the concept of a fried Twinkie, but I'll wait until I can get one from a more reliable source as I wouldn't want a dish like that tainted by mediocrity.
The Moose Truck on Facebook
The Moose Truck
I have read through a lot of the commentary generated by the food truck festival on social media. I’m glad to see that so much of it was positive. My family had a great time. Sure, the lines were long on Friday but we were expecting long lines for an event of this nature and we were expecting there to be a few kinks as it was the very first year. We all learn as we go.
One of the major complaints was location which surprised me. I was pleased to see it being held at Gage Park which on its own is a great place to visit. The zoo is nearby, there is a pool, a beautiful rose garden, the carousel in the park, and meandering trails and ponds. The event brought a definite influx of business to the area, which was a definite bonus. More than that though, Gage Park has always been a symbol of what Topeka is about.
It was one of the first places in Topeka I ever visited and I was a child at the time. The animal playground made a big impression on me then and continues to mesmerize children today. I have photographed all my kids there. It is a family friendly place with meeting houses for parties and casual picnics. Where children can run from playground to playground and climb while parents watch from nearby maybe chatting with friends and sometimes chatting with strangers. It truly exemplifies that small town feeling so near and dear to my heart.
I’d like to see next year’s food truck festival stay in Gage Park for those reasons, but I do have a few suggestions. One of the biggest causes of confusion and frustration was that the food trucks were lined up on both sides of zoo parkway. I think spreading the trucks out and keeping them on one side of the street would be a big help, but maybe an even better idea would be to have the trucks park in the Carousel at the Park parking lot. Parking the food trucks in the carousel lot will impede parking, but I think if shuttles were offered from various areas around town it could eliminate a lot of the congestion in the park. I’d also like to see more trucks, thirteen was not enough, and there were a number of Topeka native trucks that were turned away or unable to make an appearance. We might not have the vast number of trucks like L.A. with almost four hundred, or the ingrained food truck culture of a city like Portland with its warren of food trucks in the downtown area, but we’re proud of our food trucks and want to see them succeed.
In spite of the minor hassles of long lines, and an occasional spattering of rain on Saturday morning, the Capital City Food Truck Festival was a success. Great food mixed with great company and live music and that laid back atmosphere of Gage Park certainly made for a wonderful couple of days. I look forward to the next event with a stomach already rumbling for more inspired food.