by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
Each month, The Great Food Search travels the Valley to find brave new restaurants and compare culinary categories. Come with me to the world of Fresno’s gourmet food trucks. You might find one near a night gathering spot, or see groups of them at CartHops on the Fulton mall, by the Central Library, or at Gazebo Gardens by Van Ness and Shields. The variety of styles and offerings is astounding. Here is a sampling of Fresno’s wilder street food.Cowboy Shaman–A tan van emblazoned with arcane, mystic symbols, Cowboy Shaman is a journey beyond the everyday. Pad Thai and Jasmine Rice Bowls are the big draw here, and the food takes you off to other lands. Flavorful rice, almost-see-through rice noodles, tender chicken, and peanutty sauces: you don’t know what you’re getting into, but you’re glad you did. The Pad Thai with Chicken and Mushrooms opens up your taste buds without setting fire to them. It comes with a translucent eggroll and a deep-fried potsticker. Who needs normal?
Dusty Buns—The grand old lady of the Fresno food truck flotilla, Dusty Buns has been a popular mobile eatery for years, causing long lines wherever it appears. Le Grilled Cheese is a grilled cheese—yes—but it’s in a fluffy bun with aged white cheddar, slices of apple, and chunky strips of Applewood bacon. It’s amazing!
Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream—I live by the motto, “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” I had a Sundae with Kiwi Ice Cream (including Lime Swirls), little disc sprinkles, Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, and Cherries on top! The ice cream was fluffy and delicate, but it didn’t let you down.
LoCAvoria 559: Flat-Bottom Grill—When a food truck flies a flag with the logo of the mega-rock band Queen on it, and all the dishes are named as parodies of Queen songs, ya gotta love it. Armenian Wrapsody, Some Belly to Love, Another Bun Bites the Dust: to live up to that level of wonkiness, that has to be sommmme food. It Is. Another Bun is a pair of burgers with wow appeal, sporting bacon, lettuce, tomato, garlic sauce, and melted cheddar on a toasted pita. The ingredients are locally sourced. Somewhere, Freddie Mercury is smiling.
Meltdown Bistro–Three-Mile Island had nothing on this place. They melt anything from a tri-tip and jalapeno to Chicken Caesar to S’mores. A Spinach-Pesto and Provolone Melt seems like it might be too much to handle, but wait…there’s more! Include avocado and tomato with the fresh spinach, slap it on a sourdough bun, and add chicken to it, and you have several meals…or start making friends to share with.
Tako BBQ—I wasn’t sure what this was…take-out, tacos, barbecue, or what. It’s Korean fusion! I had a trio of Bulgogi Tacos. It was an Asian-influenced beef taco with a mild-mannered disguise, until the sriracha sauce kicks in, taking it to another planet. Krypton, perhaps?
Fresno’s food trucks have a lot to offer. You’re bound to find something to love. Cowboy Shaman is good for a leisurely, laid-back meal. Dusty Buns’ apple in a grilled cheese sandwich was a pleasant surprise. Jay’s is a must for dessert; there are plenty of flavors beyond vanilla and chocolate. LoCAvoria 559: Flat-Bottom Grill (Remember “Fat Bottomed Girls?”) has some outrageous puns and outrageously good food. Meltdown Bistro definitely serves generous portions. Tako BBQ is a walk on the wild side and a taste of the unexpected.
My choice? Meltdown Bistro barely edged out LoCAvoria 559, because the greens made me feel like I was eating healthy…but there are days I’d opt for a Meltdown fix.
Happy eating. The food is out there.