Food trucks or “street meat” vendors are a staple across Buffalo NY. Larkin Square sees a host of street vendors and food trucks that gather for both the office midday crowd and the late night Chippewa scene. Food Truck Tuesdays begins in May and goes through October and what’s great about this gathering are the number of choices and variety of foods. Featuring a variety of Buffalo and Rochester based food trucks; there is live music, beer, wine and other beverages. This is a great way to get introduced to the food truck/street meat scene.
Food trucks are fast, versatile and oh so convenient. But are they safe to eat at? Unfortunately, that depends on the food truck—and some are cause for serious concern. Food trucks are tighter on space than brick and mortar restaurants, so there’s limited room and since customers are standing outside waiting for food, not chatting at a table, food truck employees are rushed to get orders out quickly (for that reason, a good tip is to avoid big pieces of meat—like chicken or a burger). And if food trucks are attending festivals and events, things get chaotic, which leads to less paying attention, especially if the food truck is new to the scene.
You may want to turn a blind eye- I highly recommend you don’t. Think Kitchen Nightmares meets Ratatouille (the beginning, not the end). Ultimately your stomach is what suffers. With just a little education on how to choose a good quality food truck vendor, you can have a great experience that will leave you coming back for more. And for those of you thinking that food truck vendors don’t cater to the digestively sensitive, think again! There is a little something for everyone.
Oh Yes Appearance Means a Lot! Outward appearances can give you a good clue about what the overall cleanliness of a particular situation is. Here are some things to look for in a street vendor: Look at the overall cleanliness of the kiosk, stall, or cart. Does it look well-maintained, clean and in working order? How professional do the workers look? Is their hair tied back or covered? Is their clothing clean? Are their fingernails short and clean and/or are they wearing protective gloves? Where is the vendor located? Is their equipment in a well-ventilated area? Is it close to garbage or sewers? Do you see any apparent sources of clean water available for workers to wash their hands and equipment?
Take Suggestions. To be safe, it’s best to ask for recommendations. The front desk at your hotel may have information about food vendors that the locals enjoy. Or ask friends where the best hot spots are. Also food sites will give you some indication on what is good and what to steer clear from. A popular vendor is more likely to be a safe vendor. Here’s a great link for the Larkin Square gathering. This will help get you started.
Here are a list of some of my favorites:
Ultimately you need to follow your instincts. If you’re swatting away flies while waiting for your food, please for the love of God don’t eat it! It’s not just the meat you have to worry about. If the meat comes with any seasoning, especially liquid seasoning, find out what’s in it and how long it’s been sitting out. Don’t be afraid to ask the vendor questions. If you’re brave enough to ask in a restaurant, well the same rules apply to food truck/street meat vendors. Go with the crowd; if there’s a vendor with a massive line, odds are the food is both good and safe.
If you find a great food truck, please share it with us! I’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to vote for Digestion Suggestion in Buffalo Spree (Best Blog) and Artvoice!!!