I love street food. I love everything from the big food trucks with built-in kitchens and colorful graphics to the little Guatemalan lady selling tamales out of a cooler in the back of her minivan. This is what helps lend character and flavor to our city and gives local entrepreneurs a space in the market alongside the assembly line, factory farm-to-plastic table chains that plague our perception of what it really means to “eat good in the neighborhood.” So naturally I was concerned when I heard that City Council and Public Works were discussing mobile food vendors.
Last month, a full two years after Chattanooga’s first food trucks launched, City Council decided on further guidelines for “mobile food units” that included wording stating that a trailer must “remain attached to its towing vehicle at all times.” While I’m not surprised that the Council and Public Works stuck their noses into the rapidly growing mobile food scene, I’m thankful they didn’t do any more damage than just increasing the footprint of food trailers. It’s still a silly addition to the ordinance in my opinion (oh, the horror of a food trailer parked overnight in a parking lot), but it could have been worse.
City officials also announced the opening of Center Park in the 700 block of Market Street. This small “pocket park” will serve several purposes, but will be used as a food truck court several days a week, including on Fridays. Meaning that instead of hitting Miller Plaza on Fridays for lunch and some music, we’ll have to walk a couple of blocks to Center Park to grab delicious food-truck grub, then hoof it back to Miller Plaza to participate in the music, artisans and produce vendors there.
The good news is that Center Park has more space for the increasing number of food trucks, carts and trailers. The bad news is that it feels a bit like the city is separating the food trucks from the rest of Fresh on Fridays like eccentric aunt Petunia at the family reunion. For now, I’ll take the good with the bad and be glad that we have these great additions to the city’s food scene in the first place.
Current Chattanooga Mobile Food Lineup
- Famous Nater’s World Famous: Sandwiches and salads
- Taste of Argentina:Authentic Argentine food
- Southern Burger Co.: Fresh burgers and fries
- Local Slice: Pizza truck with a wood-fired oven inside
- Rock-n-Tacos: Killer tacos!
- The Missing Link Sausage Cart: Locally made sausage hot dogs
- Terra Nostra: Tapas
- Taqueria Jalisco:Authentic Mexican food
- The Muenster Truck: Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches
- King of Pops: All-natural frozen treats
- Monkey Town Donuts: Hot, fresh mini donuts
- Rusty’s Nutz: Hot boiled peanuts and fresh-roasted peanuts