For a while, on the twitter, I’ve been following the trend of the Not-So-Secret-Anymore food trucks that are popping up all around the nation. There’s Kogi Korean Barbecue in Los Angeles, Maximus/Minimus in Seattle, and coming up in Chicago, The Southern Mac, run by Cary Taylor of the Southern restaurant in Wicker Park, and Phillip Foss’ Meatyballs Mobiles, purveyors of meatball sandwiches in many different flavors.

If you haven’t heard of the trend, these mobile food outposts tweet their locations in the morning, sometimes en route to an approximate location, and it falls to the customer and well-keeled internetian to be in the right place at the right time.

This morning, on my day off, I decided to give one a try. Such a tough choice. Usually, they park somewhere around my neck of the woods, and with a ten minute walk, I could get to whichever was the most convenient. After checking the twitter, I determined it was the Meatyballs mobile number 3, ready to post at 12:20 at Illinois and St. Clair, about three blocks away.

Here’s a helpful tip if you’re going to go on a sojourn to the nearest grease truck: Know the menu. If you think you’re being clever by showing up blind, there’s no patience for looky-lous at the trucks. Sure, they’ll smile and explain the menu to you, because they too like making money. However, the people behind you in line? They’ll grumble. If you haven’t caught the trend by now, you’re way behind the curve. Back of the line.

I asked what the menu was, and the line was only one person behind me who didn’t look too famished, and I picked up the BBQ balls sandwich. Pulled pork, Cola-bourbon barbecue sauce, red cabbage, and apples. Not too shabby. I made sure to have my cash ready, but I noted that they had a Square Credit Card reader attached to the iPhone they were using to track orders. This little baby, if it hasn’t already, will revolutionize small, mobile businesses with a transaction structured system that is easy to use and affordable.

Well, back to the sandwich. The Meatyballs Mobile is all about Meatball sandwiches. From their website, I have now come to the understanding that you order a sandwich with a theme and a clever nickname (Schweddy Balls. Ha.), and then you go sit somewhere on your lunch break and eat it. I ordered my sandwich, (8 bucks- not that bad), walked a block, and sat by the fountain in the park. I unwrapped my sandwich and dug in.

I totally forgot that I eat pulled pork almost every day. Each night at work, we smoke two or three whole pork shoulders, rubbed down, for about ten hours. Little pinches here and there every so often have given me an idea of what pulled pork is supposed to taste like. This one? Mmmmmmmeh. It sure was shredded, but then, the shreds were rolled into the shape inspired by meatballs. The balls were mushy lumps, and I wasn’t terribly impressed.

To recap- Trends are good. I am in favor of supporting small mobile businesses, specifically ones who become trendsetters by being early adopters of technology for the sake of their business. (As a sidebar, check out the twitter account of @Msbeervendor– sending tweets to your beer vendor at Mariner’s Games to have your beer delivered to your seat. Genius) However, just because something is trending, doesn’t mean that it has to be good. And @msbeervendor, if you’re reading this, don’t worry. Beer is beer. You’re safe like Ichiro stealing second base.

Will I try Meatyballs again? Probably not for a while, if ever. There’s so much variety in the neighborhood, with the Mac Truck, and the Gaztro Wagon somewhere in the mix. As I said before, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ll go if the truck is parked within walking distance and it gets some good reviews, but if the food’s only going to be just okay, I think I might make myself a sandwich at home.

Advertisements