The Food Truck Revolution Hits Boston

By Aviva Shen

This weekend’s First Annual Food Truck Festival proved that Boston’s caught a bad case of the food truck bug. The only problem is, the trucks themselves aren’t totally ready to handle the feeding frenzy.

The vendors were at their culinary best, but they couldn’t have prepared for the hordes of hungry Bostonians that descended. Lines that grew quickly and gnarled around the folding tables ensured at least an hour’s wait for jerk chicken at M&M Ribs or a coveted Speed’s hot dog. Sadly, supplies couldn’t hold up at M&M and Fillbelly’s and many came away unrewarded for their patience.

The line for Speed's Dogs had spilled out of the lot by noon.

Overall, the fare trended toward all-American, stick-to-the-ribs comfort food, with Trolley Dogs, Grillo’s Pickles, The Sausage Guy from Fenway, and The Cupcakory also attracting crowds (Clover Food Lab — the slightly healthier MIT grad-run truck that is virtually synonymous with “Boston food truck scene” — was absent for reasons explained on their blog). Since Boston’s food trucks are still relatively sparse, quality won out over variety. Speed’s Dogs, one of the few vendors able to last the whole day, churned out hundreds of their cider-marinated monster dogs topped with chili, mustard, cranberry relish and onions. Meanwhile, Fillbelly’s famous waffles disappeared by noon and M&M’s barbecued pork and beef ribs dried up soon after, leaving the afternoon crowd with sides like mac n’cheese and rice and beans.

Clearly, the shortage of Boston food trucks is not due to lack of interest, but the difficulty and cost of obtaining a license (some trucks, like Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, had not yet obtained their license, and so could not actually distribute food). One good sign for the future of mobile food in Boston: Mayor Menino and City Council President Mike Ross were among the food truck connoisseurs on Sunday.

Food Truck Nation had free samples like this chicken wing with mango salsa and jerk sauce.

The people have spoken; hopefully, the trucks — and the Boston health department — received the message loud and clear. As for the rest of us, we’ll be sure to get there early next year.

If you missed the festival, you can track down the trucks on Twitter.