SouthWest Bound and Down’, A Food Truck Review of the Loaded Up and Truckin’ Food Truck Off

Southwest Bound and down, loaded up and truckin’!  We gon’ do what they say can’t be done…

And by that, I mean eat and judge 19 food trucks in less than four hours.  We don’t play around when it comes to eating.  Stu’s training comes from years of eating out, judging festivals, and being extremely involved in the culinary scene here in our Asheville community.  Mine comes from growing up in a southern family with a stay at home mom that made me a lot of food and mandatory cleaning of plates.  I have always had a huge passion for food, and working the past two years with Dig Local has really introduced me to some amazing local restaurants.  One thing I have discovered that I wasn’t very aware of before I started working here was the food truck scene.

What I love about food truck owners and chefs is their passion.  Some of them are working towards a brick and mortar, but the majority of them are doing it for the versatility and the ability to reach a large amount of people in different areas and specialize in plates that would be hard to find in a typical restaurant.  I am very thankful for our amazing mobile food scene in Asheville and hope that they continue to grow so that I can eat on every corner.  That’s the dream, right?

Since Stu already posted his review and I reposted it here on my blog, I will keep it short and sweet, and this post will be mostly for the visual aspect.  After the pictures, I will let you know who were my top three.

The before.  We were so young, so…not full of 19 food trucks.
Root Down with a fantastic oyster bite.  The creole food truck king of Asheville.
We were one of the first people on the field because…food.
The Real Food Truck’s thai peanut hot dogs and potato salad.  I felt like I was at a baseball game, in Thailand.  Wonderful flavor.
The Brezel Bus.  Pretty tasty little pretzel, and I’m not a pretzel person!  That could have been because it was covered in cheese and jalapenos.
People started showing up, music starting, huge inflatable beers manifesting themselves in a field.  Just typical North Carolina stuff.
Tasty little sugary fried goodness from Vieux Carre.
The pretzel I was talking about.  Look at all that cheese!
It was in this moment we realized that getting through nineteen food trucks was going to be difficult if we kept getting portion sizes this large.  Commence the meat sweats.
Look at that ‘stache serving up some El Kimche!  El Stache’.
Appalachian Chic with the best tots in Asheville.  Forever and always.
Melt Your Heart.  Absolutely.  Killed.  It.  Deconstructed grilled cheese with smoked gouda, bacon, and some sort of tomato bisque on the side.  I had to sit down for this one it was so good.
Stu probably saying something like oh #%&*@#%!!!!  This is good.
So we started this new thing called “Cheese Meditation”.  Right after this he floated away on a pimento chariot.
El Kimchi taco.  Possibly the most popular food truck dish in Asheville.
Really wish I could tell you what this lovely little dish was from Latino Heat, it was a tasty arepa, that’s for sure.  A bit of a language barrier kept us from figuring out the specifics, but the mystery is half the fun anyway, right?
Out of the Blue with an awesome purple potato bite.  Was possibly the most filling sample for the size that we got all day.
WHOOOOOOOOO PORK BELLY, I DO DECLARE!  Blue Smoke.  That was some pork belly cooked to perfection.  This was Stu’s favorite dish of the day.
Ah, Farm to Fender.  Traditionally my favorite food truck in town, Jeremiah and Co. blessed us today with a wonderful smoked salmon sample on pita bread with this lovely cheese I keep forgetting how to pronounce.  Please reference Stu.  I usually eat things before I learn how to pronounce them.
Is that our Asheville famous Eddie Cabbage going into the Farm to Fender truck?  Is he writing poems for Farm to Fender now??  So many unanswered questions.
Well look who we ran into, fellow food judge/critic/writer Jonathan Ammons from the Mountain Xpress and WNC Magazine!  Stu used him a bit towards the end to finish food that he couldn’t eat, thanks Jonathan.  What a trooper.
So in my excitement to eat BBQ, I blew it and forgot to take a picture of Doc Brown’s most excellent barbeque.  So instead, here is a picture of my friend Anna and her hair in front of Doc Brown’s BBQ truck.
I dare someone to chug that can of Dale’s.
This was our halfway point.  It was time to regroup, stomach stretch, and keep on truckin’.
Fancy pants Appalachian Smoke BBQ in a fancy pants cup.  The Western NC tangy BBQ sauce it came with was some of the best BBQ sauce I think I’ve ever had.
Taste and See with a great little cheese and bacon sample.  See, this is the ideal size for judges.  Some of those huge portions made me think the food truck guys were out to kill us off.
Chicken and waffles.  Who would have thought they would catch on the way that they have?  Well, it caught my taste buds by storm.  Smash Boxes chicken and waffle bite was out of this world.
Amazing Pizza Co. with a pizza slice.  Yep…it was pizza…I mean it wasn’t bad.  But it didn’t really seem like they cared about winning judges over if they were just serving a slice of pizza.  Hey, I’ll never turn down pizza though!
Oskar Blues Chubwagon, are you trying to kill us??  The very last meal of the day.  Number 19.  The end.  And you give me an almost full sized burger with fries.  Ugh.  Killing me with calories and kindness.  It wasn’t anything out of this world, but I imagine if I hadn’t just eaten the equivalent of an orca whale it would have been right tasty for a festival snack.
Hurray, Lexi!  Her and her super cool mobile boutique, Hazel Twenty, was out slinging non edible clothes.  Pretty sure they are non-edible anyway.  She got on here just because she’s fabulous and, well, it’s a truck too.  Go see her for your mobile clothing needs.  She has a lot of things you aren’t going to find in stores and you can book her for events too!





Third Place:  Farm to Fender

Stu and I both felt that it was a bold move to serve a fishy dish to a mass audience to be judged, and boldness that produces results should be awarded.  Fantastic presentation, loads of taste, and very complex.  Easily something I would enjoy from a nice restaurant.  Just what they do every day at Farm to Fender.  Go check them out at their commissary on Sweeten Creek Road, tell them Stephan sent you in and get the brisket burger.  You with thank me forever and always.


Second Place:  Smash Box Mobile Kitchen

Thank you Nestor and crew for that chicken and waffle bite.  It took the longest preparation of any sample I got all day long, but it was so worth it.  Smash Box ended up winning the competition as well, and they definitely deserved it.  I’ve never had a bad meal from there, they have fantastic Nicaraguan style food that is loaded with taste that will get all corners of your mouth hopping.


First Place:  Melt Your Heart

Slow clap.  You did it.  One of my favorite sayings from Woody Guthrie goes:

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”

I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t bawk a little when I see the word “deconstructed” in cuisine.  It feels snooty with a touch of hipster.  Well, whatever they did with that deconstructed grilled cheese was right on point.  In my opinion, Melt Your Heart won the showdown with a grilled cheese.  Smoked gouda, bacon, toast, and tomato bisque.  They all came together in the perfect size, taste, and presentation to melt my taste buds and spoil me early on in the competition.    Even better, Melt Your Heart is getting a second food truck to keep up with our cheese needs.  Congratulations!  Y’all keep killing it, and I’ll keep eating it, and singing the praises.  Here are links to all the food trucks in the showdown so you can keep up with their going ons:

Oskar Blues CHUBwagon
Amazing Pizza Co.
Appalachian Chic Food Truck
Appalachian Smoke
Blue Smoke BBQ
Smash Box Mobile Kitchen
El Kimchi
Melt Your Heart
The Real Food Truck
Farm To Fender
Root Down food truck
Grateful Roots Food Truck
Doc Brown’s BBQ
Chameleon Catering and Mobile Food Co.
Underground Baking Co.
Out of the Blue Peruvian Fusion Cuisine
Vieux Carre
Latino Heat
Taste & See Food Truck


That’s it for me.  I’m off to bed to inevitably dream about food, cheese, and pork belly.  Please go out and support our food trucks, they are doing amazing things for our local food scene.  And if you ever get the chance to judge a food truck festival, please consult your local physician, then consult professionals like Stu and I on the importance of proper training before committing to eating for four hours straight.

The after picture.  Death by carbs.











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