Food Trucks In Winter

In like a lion. Out with a lamb burger.

Crista Jeremiason/PD

Crista Jeremiason/PD
Crista Jeremiason/PD

The mobile food scene burst into Sonoma County like a gale force wind last winter. Though taco trucks had long been part of the landscape, February and March saw the roll out of a new generation of trucks serving everything from kobe burgers and dim sum to agedashi, lamb burgers and carne asada fries. With a fleet of trucks rolling into downtown Santa Rosa in January, there was no mistaking that this burgeoning culinary trend had finally come to Wine Country.

The Players
Fork Catering:
Run by caterer Sarah Piccolo out of Sebastopol, embraces the local farm-to-table vibe, serving up Stornetta beef burgers on whole wheat buns; a quinoa garbanzo bean burger, green chili mac and cheese, and salads bursting with veggies plucked from local patchesStreet Eatz: More than a taco truck, less than a restaurant, the Street Eatz mobile kitchen is leading Sonoma County’s food truck brigade with globally-inspired dishes (agedashi, tacos, pulled pork, curry, chile rellenos and the unbeatable Carne Asada fries). Biz partners Jillian Dorman and Alma Mendez (of La Texanita) collaborated on the popular truck, which has been a mainstay at local events throughout the spring and summer.

La Texanita: Sister truck to Street Eatz, this Mexican truck features most of the items you’ll find at Alma’s much-loved restaurant (Guy Fieri is a huge fan): Tacos, burritos and flautas with homemade tortillas and tasty meats like tongue and cabeza.

Chicago Style Hot Dogs: Wieners are the original street food, so its no wonder that a growing contingency of mobile doggeries are on the roll. Jeff Tyler is the guy you’ve seen tucked away on Je Ju Way (near Russian River brewery) on weekdays and most recently doing a brisk late-nite biz in Courthouse Square.

Karma: Former brick and mortar Indian restaurant owner brings his naan and curries mobile.

Ultra Crepes: Gourmet French crepes.

Match Box Diner: Fresh made bbq sliders, burgers, tacos, dogs and fries.

Charlie Bruno’s Chuckwagon: Bruno’s on fourth owners take their barbecue on the road.

Sift Dessert Truck: Cupcakes. ‘Nuff said.

Foxy Cupcakes: More cupcakes.

Mobile Perks: The original mobile coffee cart in Sonoma County.

Stay tuned for:
Big Bad Burritos: Gourmet burritos.
Yum Yum Trolley: Menu still in development.

Facing almost immediate push back from concerned downtown brick and mortar restaurants, the welcome mat and continued permits for the weekly event were pulled. Undaunted, the trucks soldiered on through a busy summer, with recurring spots at farm markets, wineries, county parks, businesses and festivals. Jillian Dorman of Street-Eatz and La Texanita, brought her trucks to nearly 300 events between April and October, having near non-stop gigs throughout the Bay Area including San Francisco’s popular Off The Grid, The Handcar Regatta, farm markets at Kendall Jackson, and weekly lunch stops in Santa Rosa.

With the weather taking a decidedly drippier turn in coming weeks, the trucks are in transition mode. Al fresco dining doesn’t have quite the cache in winter months (or the venues), so most of the truck vendors say they’ll be looking toward more lunch routes, winery events and catering gigs to keep their griddles warm over the holidays. A few, like the Fabulous Frickle Brothers have gone into seasonal hibernation, promising to re-emerge in the spring. Several, including Street-Eatz, Charlie Bruno’s Chuckwagon and Dogs From Chicago will head back to established lunch routes that center around large industrial and business parks.

As the busy season winds down, Dorman said that she hopes to work on a number of projects including a holiday truck gatherings for businesses, a regular “Off The Grid” style gathering of several trucks once a month in Sonoma County and finding possible pop-up spots at unused warehouses throughout the county. As the unofficial “truck mother” of the North Bay, Jillian has also helped to foster many upcoming trucks, guiding them through permitting, city politics and the ins-and-outs of mobile kitchens. She said two trucks are currently in development in Sonoma County: Big Bad Burritos and the Yum Yum Trolley. Others, like Lynn Bruno of Bruno’s Chuckwagon are looking forward to some needed downtime between holiday winery events and wedding bookings.

Here are a few last-of-the-season events to check out as well as ongoing stops to get your food truck fix.

Park-n-Eat: Spring Lake Park hosts its final food trucks in the park event for the season on Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 4:30pm to dusk. 10% of proceeds go to supporting the park. Spring Lake Boat Ramp, Santa Rosa. Usual suspects include Street-Eatz, La Texanita, Bruno’s Chuckwagon, Dogs from Chicago, Ultra Crepes.

Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, Truck or Treat: The Sonoma winery hosts a truck stuff from 5:30 until dark with live music and dining on October 28. Lineup: Karma Bistro, Fork Catering, Street Eatz, Charlie Bruno’s Chuckwagon, Dogs from Chicago. Owners say this may be the last event at the winery due to new restriction policies being enforced by the city. (389 4th Street East. Sonoma)

Iron Horse Winery: Though it doesn’t participate in the popular Wine Road Food and Wine Affair happening this weekend, Iron Horse has invited Charlie Bruno’s Chuckwagon to their tasting room throughout the weekend. (9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol)

All Year
Wine Down, Eat Up Thursdays: Santa Rosa Vintners’ Square, home to a collection of boutique wineries near downtown Santa Rosa, hosts its Wine Down, Eat Up each Thursday from 5-9pm featuring live music, wine and four food trucks. Owner Ray D’Argenzio said he’ll continue to host the event through the winter with a revolving lineup that has included Street Eatz, Ultra Crepes, MatchBox Diner and Charlie Bruno’s Chuckwagon. 1301 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa.

O’Reilly’s Totally Truckin’ Thursdays: Four trucks roll into Sebastopol’s O’Reilly Media from 11:30 to 3pm each Thursday throughout the year. Ten percent of lunch proceeds go to supporting a non-profit of the week. Usual suspects include Street-Eatz, Fork Catering, Foxy Cupcakes, La Texanita, Dogs from Chicago, MatchBox, Ultra Crepes, Karma Bistro.

“Usual” Lunch Spots: Though the best bet is to watch your favorite trucks’ Facebook or Twitter feed, some popular lunch spots have included the Santa Rose Industrial Park, Santa Rosa VA (3841 Brickway Boulevard, Santa Rosa), and parks near Medtronic and Kaiser in Santa Rosa.