Edgewood keeps on eating
Food-truck picnics continue monthly through the winter
On their first trip to Edgewood Eats, Palo Alto residents Lenore and Carl Jones circled the wagons, all 11 of them. This is a good strategy, because the food-truck menus range from duck confit spring rolls (Little Green Cyclo) to barbecued ribs (Armadillo Willy's, BBQ Kalbi) and change every time.
The popular Monday-night food-truck fiesta switched to a monthly schedule in October. Rain or shine, it will happen the first Tuesday of each month through February, and then return to weekly Tuesdays.
Food quality varies a lot, but servers are uncommonly friendly and accommodating. At Tikka Bytes, Carl Jones was asked how spicy he wanted his burrito-like "naanwich." Before he gave his final answer, they gave him a taste of spicy so he could know he wanted regular.
The Joneses learned about food trucks from their daughter in Los Angeles, where this whole food-truck thing is really big. They visited a few in LA, whetted their appetites and, as Lenore Jones said, wistfully downing her unagi taco (BBQ Kalbi), "I've been searching."
You don't have to be in the know to enjoy Edgewood Eats. My houseguest, 23, an extremely picky eater from the Midwest, doesn't eat vegetables, let alone the awesome pickled daikon-topped pork-belly bun ($5.75, Chairman Bao) and garlic noodles ($7.50, An the Go) that we were inhaling. She was thoroughly happy with her grilled-cheese sandwich ($4) and potato chips from the Shack Mobile's children's menu.
People do talk about food. I overheard a theory that trucks from nearby restaurants didn't have long lines because you can go there anytime. A contrary theory holds that all food purveyors profit when nestled close together, which is why so many commercial streets now are wall-to-wall restaurants. It's called "the theory of the cluster."
If you do find yourself in a long line, likely someone will ask if you've tried this truck before — and either welcome or offer advice. They bid you to try such mixed marriages as the sushi tacos ($2) and fried cheesecake rolls ($2) at Mo Bowl. The first is pretty spicy, the second crusted in sugar, both appetizer-size.
You'll have plenty of room for Butterscotch on the Go's pudding ($4) a textural extravaganza that sane people share.
Crescent Park resident Susie Hwang founded Edgewood Eats in September 2010 with the support of Edgewood Plaza owner Sand Hill Properties. Her goals were to repurpose a rundown vacant lot as a neighborhood gathering place, to demonstrate Edgewood Plaza's potential for vibrant commerce, to provide gourmet food entrepreneurs a foothold in Palo Alto, and to give busy parents some creative dinner options. Each month, a portion of vendor revenues is donated to organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank, Doctors Without Borders and Water.org.
Food trucks are so popular they've got their own reality show, "The Great Food Truck Race." For the full scoop, Heather Shouse's definitive book "Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels" (Ten Speed Press, 2011) tours trucks from Oahu, Hawaii, to Portsmouth, N.H.
At Edgewood, bring your own lawn chairs or blankets. For now children run around and dogs are on leashes. When it starts raining, vendors will provide canopies so the made-to-order dinner show can go on.
Intersection of Embarcadero Road, West Bayshore Road and Channing Avenue (right on Highway 101), Palo Alto
Hours: From 5 to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month, through February 2012. In March, the event moves to every Tuesday evening.
Credit cards: some yes, some no
Alcohol: bring your own
Outdoor dining: totally
Wheelchair access: yes
Bathroom cleanliness: Nearest restrooms at Shell gas station