Summer seems to be made for food trucks. These portable cafes on wheels can set up shop seemingly anywhere have the unique ability to turn an ordinary block into a full-out party in the street. After discovering the magic of food trucks in Philly a couple months ago, I have been yearning to check out the Central Florida food truck scene which is quite varied and active. As it has happened, I never really sat down and did my research until I found out that my neighborhood would be hosting a food-truck “round up.” While none of the trucks attending this event were gluten-free friendly (as far as I could tell), I did come across a couple trucks that were. This, coupled with a free Saturday I was looking to fill, sparked my foray into this wonderful world.
In doing my research, I focused in on The Food Truck Bazaar which is a local collaboration between event planners, food trucks, and communities which bring a bazaar of food trucks (10-15+ per event) to cities all over Central Florida. These bazaars are a first of their kind and have allowed the food truck scene to really develop and expand to all corners of our spread-out region. They have a monthly rotating schedule that allows the travelling food truck brigade to cover thirteen cities in total. I caught the Bazaar at its Sanford stop on it’s usual date of the first Saturday of the month from 5pm-8pm.
After a preliminary Google search, I discovered the Tamale Co. truck which is entirely gluten-free. Given that flying flour is my deepest fear inside the little trucks, I immediately felt as ease knowing this danger was already eliminated. As I entered the inner circle created by the food trucks parking around a center “courtyard” I made a bee line to their truck and studied the menu. Almost all of the various tamales are topped with a dairy based sauce, but I was told it would be no problem to take it off to make it dairy-free. Torn between the eight delicious and mouthwatering options, I decided to go for a pairing of the verde chicken tamale and the rojo chicken tamale.
When the twin tamales were handed to me I loved their brightly colored toppings and spicy aroma. Tamales, which consist of meat and/or beans wrapped in a corn-based dough then steamed in corn husks, were a new taste for me, and I couldn’t wait to try them. I tasted the verde chicken first, which featured seasoned pulled chicken topped with verde sauce and chopped cilantro. I loved the tangy, zesty sauce and fresh cilantro taste which gave the tamale a light and fresh kick. The combination of the two, combined with the doughy outer “wrapper” and spicy chicken it enveloped. I tried to slowly savor each bite, but found all to soon I was down to one- the rojo. In a color contrast to it’s green cousin, the rojo featured a beautiful red “sauce” complimented by cilantro. I loved the rich and spicy tomato-y taste of this sauce and found myself scooping up the excess as to not waste a drop of it. The corn dough again was perfectly smooth and complimented the spicy pulled chicken. As I finished off the second tamale, I was satisfied with the truck’s portion size and loved how their two tamale price lets you try more than one. I’m definitely planning on making a return visit to try out their other flavors, especially the black bean tamales which were highly recommended by the woman who took my order.
After eating my tamales, I wandered over to the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck located nearby. I’ve seen their cheery yellow truck around town and have always assumed that gluten-free definitely was not an option from them. However, when investigating gluten-free food truck options such as Tamale Co., their truck popped up as a gluten-free friendly. Reading over their menu for the day, I noticed at the bottom a gluten-free and vegan option: the Peachy Keen. Finding a rare cupcake that is both gluten and dairy free, I decided to splurge and try it out. Convinced by the acclaim they’ve relieved from locals and critics alike, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to make my food truck experience a true sampling of different flavors.
Although I told myself I’d wait and have it the next day, I ended up eating it on the way home, giving into temptation. I tried the icing first as to sample its sugary impact. Luckily, it wasn’t too sweet, so I was able to proceed to the moist, sweet-smelling cake. As someone who’s not really a peach fan, I couldn’t say if was peachy, but the cake was definitely fruity. I loved the texture of the cupcake which was not too dry or dense as vegan and gluten free are typically portrayed. Despite my usual reluctance for desserts after dinner, I really enjoyed the cupcake and will definitely not shy away in the future. My only complaint is that the cupcake to icing ratio was at it’s maximum limit for my tasting; any more icing and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. One note is that although Yum Yum deals with gluten-filled and gluten-free cupcakes, they do their best to keep the cupcakes separate as to avoid cross contamination. While this does not eliminate the risk, I felt much better knowing they are aware of the risk and actively trying to minimize it.
Walking around and taking in the rest of the assembled trucks, I didn’t notice any others with visible gluten-free labeling. Given the heat and a building thunderstorm, I didn’t stop to ask and inquire further. As I make return visits to Bazaar stops around the city and other food truck assemblies in the future, I’ll be more prepared to ask and determine what is safe. Although my experience was limited to these two trucks, I must admit I have been bitten by the food truck bug. I love the sense of community and love of food that draws patrons and trucks alike together. It felt good to know that I was helping to support this local movement that has helped the city grow and develop it’s foodie culture. It’s yet another reason why I love living here in Orlando.
Update 7/22/2015: Since my first visit, Tamale Co. has become a fixture at local farmers’ markets. On Saturdays, they can be found at the Winter Garden Farmers’ Market or the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. On Sundays, they can be found at the Orlando Farmer’s Market at Lake Eola.
The Basics: Tamale Co.
Cuisine: Mexican tamales and dessert offerings
Ideal For: Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Price: $8.50 for two tamales (mix and match)
Accessibility: Truck’s window is a little high. Accessibility determined by location.
Special Features: They offer catering for events or parties.
The Basics: The Yum Yum Cupcake Truck
Ideal For: Snacks, dessert (any time of day cupcakes are warranted)
Price: $2.75 for one cupcake, $10 for four cupcakes, $14.50 for six and $27 for twelve
Accessibility: The counter is a little high, but I found it accessible. Accessibility also determined by location.
Special Features: They offer catering for events or parties. Find out more here.
Disclaimer: These reviews are based upon the information I have at the time of the review and do not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the food truck directly for up-to-date information and feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.