Every year, food lovers gathered at Tempe Diablo Stadium to pig out on fare from food trucks. These food trucks from all over the US, from local Phoenix trucks, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and even Maine and Alaska, drive to the Arizona desert to share their unique takes on classic favorites.
In 2015, I managed to grab a multi-day ticket for $12. This may seem like a deal, but keep in mind you have to pay for your own food and drinks individually. This can add up, so I’d recommend going with a group and splitting food between your family or friends.
I was so excited after I read the description. The ad claimed that people from the Food Network would be there, so I had expected more than just food trucks. Despite the fact there was delicious food, I wanted a little more variety in the event. I would have given anything to see a cooking demonstration from Bobby Flay, or be in the audience for a special episode of Chopped.
It felt like less of a “Foodie Fest” and more of a food truck gathering, similar to the one in Gilbert. Or maybe it was comparable to the Arizona State Fair. There was a stand with every kind of fried food, a live band, and carnival rides. Regardless of my disappointment, I did get to enjoy new foods.
Many of my friends know this, but Katsu Curry is my favorite Japanese food. An adorable anime-themed food truck from LA has figured out how to make Katsudon into a sandwich, which frankly is the greatest thing anyone could ever do to my favorite. The curry was delicious, but I would have preferred food slathered in curry. The cabbage served on the sandwich was also cold, making an unpleasant contrast with the hot meat and curry. Fortunately, the brioche did not get soggy.
We had some small snacks from around the Foodie Fest, including hush puppies, grilled cheese, and fried cheese curds. These were fairly basic fried foods, so I didn’t take any pictures. The quality was good, but I can get the same foods all over.
A highlight of the day was getting food from Middle Feast, the food truck that won Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. If you haven’t seen the show, aspiring food truck owners join the show to compete against other teams as they drive across the country selling their dishes. The winner gets to keep the food truck that the show provided them at the beginning of the competition.
Though it wasn’t staffed by the original competitors, the food was divine. I shared a falafel: something akin to a Mediterranean meatball served with tomatoes and tzatziki sauce on a pita. The pita was delightfully fluffy, instead of stale and flat like store-bought pita. The falafel held together well, and crumbled once you bit into them. They were spiced without being overpowering, even without the tzatziki. Without the sauce, they were a bit dry, but that’s, of course, what the sauce is for.
My favorite food of the night was a dish I had never tried before. An adorable married couple runs a Venezuelan food truck. After fried and heavy food, it was refreshing to eat the fresh veggies of an arepa. It was like a broccoli taco. I expected heavy spices, but the spices really accentuated the natural flavor of the veggies.
I don’t think I’ll be going next year. If I wanted to eat food truck food, then I would go to one of the food truck courts around the valley or find them when I’m traveling. It’s up to you to try for yourself, but if you need me I’ll be at the Martha Stewart Food & Wine Festival next year.