On Sunday we went to the first annual Houston Food Truck Festival (Haute Wheels).
Luke is 4 years old and loves anything that has to do with vehicles, especially trucks. His two-year-old sister shares his enthusiasm for cars and trucks (and everything else that he enjoys). So when I told Luke that we were going to a festival of trucks that serve food, he was floored.
“They have trucks for food???” He asked, wide-eyed.
“Yaaaay!” was all Ava could think to add.
Yes, the whole family was excited for the festival. Food trucks are not new, of course. In Miami, there was a food truck that came to the botanical garden where I worked, every day around 11:30, horning the cliché ”la curaccha” song, and the 100% Latin-American mainteance team would go running off to meet it. I always pined for one of those pupusas or Cuban sandwiches. But alas, traditional food truck fare, often goes hand-in-hand with my enemy, gluten. When I was young and blissfully ignorant about gluten and its effect on me, I loved stopping for a “dirty water” hot dog, or soft pretzel with mustard on trips to New York City. And I’ve always wished I could stop at a burger truck, when in a bind. But I don’t usually travel around town with extra gluten-free buns on me.
Recently, however there has been an evolution in food trucks. Not only the trucks themselves, but the foods that they offer. These days food truck fare can be made up of the latest hot and trendy haute cuisine. And given that “gluten-free” has recently made many a list of the latest in food trends, I thought, maybe there’s hope. What are my chances that there is a least one truck with gluten-free options? If I find one, I’ll be elated. If I don’t find any, well, I always have good food at home (right around the corner).
Unfortunately, as this was the first food truck festival in Houston, it needed to work out a few kinks. The lines at each food truck were prohibitively long. Luckily, the price of admission included vouchers for one beer or one glass of wine. That one beer kept my husband from growing too impatient while we figured out what to eat.
I went from menu to menu at the first several food trucks that I saw (before standing in the long lines). I eagerly checked out Eatsie Boys because I had heard a lot about them. Indeed, their sandwiches looked gourmet and creative. But they were sandwiches. Too bad for me.
There was a Korean/Tex Mex fusion which sounded awesome. But no doubt had soy in its sauces (why, oh why, do I have to be so difficult!). And their quesadillas were undoubtedly made of wheat tortillas. I checked out a vegan truck which might be a possibility. But the names of their dishes had such obscure names, I couldn’t figure out what was in them, and did not want to wait in line for 45 minutes just to find out that I couldn’t eat anything there.
Finally, I saw a barbecue truck that had recently opened shop, and whose line did not seem too long. I had Thomas and the kids stand in line, while I went to find out what I could eat. I walked to the back window where you receive your order, and spoke to who was probably the chef/owner.
“Do you have anything that is gluten-free?” I asked.
“Ha ha ha ha ha.” Came this rolling, jovial laughter. “Do we have anything gluten-free? Yes. We do. Because all we have is meat and meat is gluten-free!” I smiled, gave him a double thumbs up, and resumed my place in line.
When I finally got through the line, I ordered a couple of meat platters. As it turns out, luckily, the coleslaw and potato salad were oil and vinegar based (yay! dairy free!). So I could eat more than just meat! They didn’t have any of the pulled pork (boo, that’s always my favorite). So I got a half chicken platter, and a “Bullbutter Ball” platter. It turns out the name of the food truck is Bullbutter Bros. Barbecue, and their specialty is this spicy meatball wrapped with bacon. A little spicy for the kids, but Thomas and I enjoyed them. I double-checked that their barbecue sauces for dipping are also gluten-free. I was only able to try the Beauregard sauce, because I took the last little sauce cup they had out. It didn’t matter. That one sauce was delicious! Tangy, with just a hint of sweetness and not spicy, so even the kids could enjoy it.
The platter came with beans as well, a favorite staple in our house. They were quickly devoured. While Thomas and I worked feverishly to feed the starving kids and ourselves, picnic style, the brother of truck chef/owner came to greet us. I guess as family of the vendor, he gets free beer. So he offered his to Thomas, knowing he could get another. I’m not sure why he chose Thomas, over anyone else in the crowd, but Thomas was happy! With that second beer in hand, and a fully satisfied belly, he didn’t have a complaint left in him! And I was happy that the whole family was happy, even my little gluten-free belly.
Even though I was really hoping for some innovative haute cuisine, I know that I can’t be too picky when I have to eat gluten-free. And really, you can never go wrong with good Texas barbecue. There’s a reason some traditions stick around. I highly recommend the Bullbutter Brothers Barbecue truck, whether you are gluten-free or not. Their food is hearty, delectable and totally satisfying. Look. Not even one scrap left for the birds…
I hope you find Bullbutter Bros. when running around town. You won’t be let down. I also hope that the second annual food truck festival will be better organized. Now I have a whole year to research whether there are other food trucks with gluten-free options out there. If you come across anymore, I’d love to hear about them.