There have been a number of late night food truck rally’s over the summer, but I’m really, really lazy on nights that I don’t work. I’m super lucky if I make it past 9:00, so getting to a food truck rally that doesn’t start until 10:00 PM has been out of the question no matter how much I really wanted to try some of the trucks that have been part of the rallys.
I had a job at Western Michigan University this past Friday night and it also happened to be the last late night food truck rally of the season. My job ended around 11:30, so once we were done, I hopped in my truck and headed towards downtown to see which trucks had decided to brave the windy, cold weather to serve up delicious food.
The rally’s happen on Water Street between Church and Rose Streets. The rally itself is actually under the part of the Radisson parking ramp that covers Water Street, so had it been snowing or raining, the festival would have been covered, but that didn’t stop the wind from getting in to the tunnel.
While the rally’s take place under a parking ramp, unless you want to walk a couple of blocks from the ramp entrance, you’ll need to find street parking in the area. There’s nothing on Rose Street, but if you’re patient and know how to navigate the one ways, you can usually find something nearby. I actually parked on Eleanor and walked on the closed part of Church Street back to the rally area.
It turns out they ended up closing before the 1 AM advertised end time, so I was probably one of the last customers when I got there around 11:45. A couple of the trucks had already shut down for the night, but the one I was looking for happened to be right near the entrance that I entered from and they were still open. It looked like the ladies inside were starting to clean up, but one of them noticed me standing there and turned around to help me out.
The Chunky Dunk was the food truck I chose. They advertise as serving gourmet sandwiches and wings with a twist.
There were no wings on the menu by the time I got there. In fact, there were only three options on the menu and two were more of an appetizer. They still had the sandwich I was really hoping to try, so I really had no complaints.
I chose to order the Michigan Style Italian beef and an order of the Loaded Tater Tots. It costs me $12 for the meal without a drink and, fortunately for me, they took credit card. The lady who took my order said it would be just a few minutes, but it was actually very quick. I’ve gotten used to waiting 5-10 minutes when I order from a food truck, but it was less than five before my food was being handed to me through the window alongside napkins and a fork.
It was too windy to try to eat while standing, so I headed back to the truck with both items. I was going to just eat in the truck but decided that was stupid. I was five minutes from home. I may as well go eat at the kitchen table like a grown-up eating tater tots out of a paper boat.
I actually started with the Loaded Tater Tots when I sat down to eat. I’ve blogged before about not really liking tots, but I always end up giving them a chance. I wouldn’t have this time, but the loaded tots come with a white queso cheese sauce (that’s a little redundant) and bacon. It’s served with a chipotle ranch on the side. I had to use a fork on the tots because the cheese sauce just destroyed them. Had this sauce and bacon been on regular french fries, this would have been amazing. The white cheese sauce was so rich with just a little bit of spice too it and the bacon added that salty crunch that all potatoes need. Unfortunately, I just don’t like tots and even this great topping combination couldn’t save it for me. I ate about half of the tots…or basically until I got down to tots without cheese sauce just because I couldn’t fathom wasting the loaded part of the tots.
Now…the Italian beef. If you read this blog often, you know I’m a huge snob when it comes to Italian beef. No one….and I seriously mean no one does it right outside of Chicago. If you try to call something Chicago-Style, you better deliver. This Italian beef, however, didn’t claim to be “Chicago-style.” It’s a Michigan style Italian beef so there were no high expectations as to what this sandwich should taste like.
I’m not exactly sure what makes it “Michigan style” but I don’t really care. The beef is a very heavily seasoned roasted beef that is shredded and piled on to an Italian bun and topped with giardiniera and shredded cheddar cheese. This sandwich is actually very, very tasty. The meat had such a wonderful flavor that was dominated by cumin (I think) and it was very tender. The bun could have used a dip in au jus, but it was actually very tasty as well. The giardninera added that little bit of heat while the cheese kind of got lost in the shuffle. Since I didn’t have to compare this sandwich to one I would get from Al’s Beef, I could actually enjoy it for what it is. It’s not a knock-off, but a homage to a classic sandwich with a unique flavor of it’s own.
I would have liked to have had a side choice for Chunky Dunk that’s more up my alley, but the sandwich was great and worth seeking out this truck for. There are so many food trucks in the Kalamazoo area now, so it’s great to have events like this late night food truck rally to bring them all together and give people a chance to try several things.