"At a time in America when finances are shaky, yet even modest big-city restaurant spaces involve multimillion-dollar build-outs, when consumers have wearied of giant chains but still demand food that is novel, inexpensive and fast, food trucks are the new incubators of culinary innovation. The food-truck phenomenon exploded in cities across the United States last year thanks largely to the success of Kogi, and before that to the mobile fleet of taqueros spread out across L.A. Who knew that the cult of tacos al pastor would become a nationwide sensation?"
The trend might have started on the west coast, but to Chattanoogans food trucks were already familiar thanks to the Southern tradition of county fairs. As the Times Free Press pointed out, "The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department has been licensing mobile food units for practically as long as fairs have been in the area. The trucks that serve funnel cakes, hamburgers, popcorn and chicken on a stick all must meet the same licensing requirements as trucks like [Famous Nater's] and, for the large part, the same health codes as stationary restaurants."
|A Taco Sherpa feast|
Copyright © Catherine Cole
Chattanoogans have embraced their small-but-growing food truck scene, with set days and locations for when food trucks congregate to serve up lunch in the downtown business district. River City Company's Fresh on Fridays project is a seasonal food truck meeting day when "April – October, hungry downtown workers and visitors have the opportunity to sample culinary delights, fresh produce and more from local vendors on Fridays from 11am until 2pm in Miller Plaza." Another is Food Truck Thursdays at Warehouse Row, which has been a big part of promoting the growing business and revival of the once-struggling upscale shopping center. The Chattanooga Market on Sundays is also a great place to see the food truck scene come together.
That is, in fact, the best possible way to get to know Chattanooga's great food trucks. Whether you hunt them down on Twitter or attend one of the events around town where they flock, you must seek out the following great mobile eateries:
Pure Soda Works
Monkey Town Donuts