For some people, spring break is all about hitting the beach, going on hikes, and catching up on your favorite TV shows. For me and my Angeleno friends, spring break is an opportunity for us to catch up over some great food. And what better way to experience the food diversity that Los Angeles has to offer than through a food truck event? Better yet for us college students, how about a free food truck event?!
This past spring break, my friends and I attended Santa Monica Food Truck Lot‘s free food truck night in a promotion for BBC America’s new TV show, No Kitchen Required. Food events can get really crowded (especially when they’re free), so I devised a serious game plan before the event that would allow my friends and me the biggest foodie bang for our efforts ($13 food vouchers in this case). These are my best tips and tricks, both obvious and not-so-obvious, for making the best usage of your time at a food truck event.
**Tips and Tricks**
Do your research. Look up the menus of the various food trucks ahead of time and choose the menu items you want to try. That way, you won’t have to waste time wandering from food truck to food truck, figuring out the most appealing items. Trust me, you don’t want to become one of those hungry fools stuck at the end of the line wondering what to order. If you’ve done your research and you’re still not sure what to get, ask the servers about their most popular menu items.
Plan transportation, or lack thereof. Parking will quickly become a pain if there is no adjacent parking lot at the event, so why not just ditch the car altogether by walking and/or taking public transportation? It will be healthier for you to walk off all the food you’ll be eating anyway. If this isn’t possible, then try to carpool.
Better early than late. Try to arrive early. How early? Depends on the popularity of the event, but I would say 30 to 60 minutes ahead would be optimal. The early arrival pay-off is worth the trouble. I was the second person in line for the event, so my friends and I were rewarded with first dibs on all of the food trucks!
Bring friends, but only a few. This tip is key if you want to experience a food truck event to its fullest. Many of the people I saw at this event came alone, which limited them to trying only one or two menu items at most. With so many different food options, the last thing you want to do is sample food from only one food truck. So bring a small group of friends so you can taste each other’s food. If you bring too many friends, it will become tricky to share food tastes.
Always be on the move. To avoid wasting time, eat while you wait in line for the next food truck. Once one friend receives his food order, have him walk over and share tastes with the rest of your group while they are waiting in line for their food orders.
Dress smart. Like I said, you will constantly be moving from one line to the next. Comfortable shoes are a must! And if the event is being held during a transitional period like the one I attended (late afternoon into early evening), be sure to bring appropriate cover (like a light jacket) so you don’t freeze while filling your pie hole.
Don’t be shy. Food truck events always attract die-hard foodies, so be sure to chat-up the people next to you while you’re standing in line. Why? Perhaps you’ll meet someone useful to your future foodie career or learn about a food-related internship opportunity, or better yet, get interviewed for a food truck documentary. All three of these things unexpectedly happened to me, so I wished I had brought some business cards to hand out.
Get smartphone savvy. Food trucks are infamous for utilizing social media, so make sure you follow the particular food trucks on Facebook and Twitter. At the event, check your phone for updates on discounts, freebies, and specials of the day. The event I attended handed out free t-shirts to those who tweeted about the event (and used their smartphones for proof), so if you’re not already on board with social media, now is the time! We earned cool No Kitchen Required t-shirts for our efforts that night.
Come empty, leave happy. Never arrive to food truck event with food in your stomach. There will be plenty of opportunities to chow down, so don’t thwart the whole point of the event by eating ahead of time!
Brynn Cahalan is a senior at UC Irvine who loves sampling food from venues of all kinds, food trucks becoming her latest obsession. Read more…