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Thread: Hipster food trailers: does your city have them yet?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Hipster food trailers: does your city have them yet?

    An emerging phenomenon in Austin -- really, just areas south of the Colorado River -- are hipster food trailers. Hipster food trailers are usually Airstreams, and they usually don't sell the tacos one normally expects from "roach coaches"; trailers in Austin sell cupcakes, sushi, Middle Eastern food, Asian fusion cuisine and the like. Unlike the taco trucks, hipster food trailers tend to remain stationary.



    From what I understand, hipster food trailers are increasingly common in Los Angeles and Portland. Are they common in any other places?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Portland has a ton of them, though generally not airstreams.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    There's a coffee place in Cortez, Colorado that operates out of an airstream. Not sure if anything in Cortez really qualifies as "hipster," though.

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    Cyburbian eightiesfan's avatar
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    In my neighborhood there isn't really space for them, otherwise I'm sure they'd try it. My barrio (The Mission) has plenty of the typical Mexican food carts and plenty of hipsters.
    Regrets, I've had a few; But then again, too many to mention.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Chicago has a handful of food trailers but it's not a hipster thing. Of course there really isn't room for them in the hipster neighborhoods and for all I know zoning may prohibit any new ones.

    Here's one I stopped at today:


  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    All we have here is Taco Trucks.

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    We've got quite a few in the Bay Area, though mostly in the South Bay and East Bay, not so much in SF. In SF, the newest rage are illegal food carts that use Twitter to broadcast where they are. There are dozens of them now, serving everything from tamales to corn dogs to creme brulee ($3 and flamed fresh!) to ghetto dogs (bacon wrapped hot dogs) to pumpkin curry to whatever else you can think of (all sans permits).

    A partial list:

    http://www.chow.com/lists/2012
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I know of one coffee trailer that sets-up at Eastern Market on the weekends. Its not semi-permanent though and sets up in other locales for festivals.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    When I was in college in Missoula, there was a taco wagon that parked downtown near the bars. They sold a lot of tacos around closing time to college kids on their way back to the dorms or their apartments.

    It was very hippy, rather than hipster. A converted school bus, painted green,
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I think it may be a bit cold here in the Great Lakes to have many of them, and the lack of foot traffic around most of the Detroit area hurts too. Anytime I hear people talking about the great taco trucks in California or Texas, I always get a little jealous.


    Slightly related, here's an interesting story I came across on Slate the other day all about overpriced cupcakes: The Cupcake Bubble
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I think it may be a bit cold here in the Great Lakes to have many of them, and the lack of foot traffic around most of the Detroit area hurts too. Anytime I hear people talking about the great taco trucks in California or Texas, I always get a little jealous.
    Hipster food trailers and taco trucks are nonexistent in the Buffalo area. In Buffalo, "Hispanic" means Puerto Rican; the area has a negligible Mexican population, reflected in the scarcity of Mexican restaurants. Most construction labor is Anglo, so there's no demand for tacos at a jobsite. Even then, residential development tends to be much smaller in scale (scattered infill, a house here and there by a local builder in a 20 lot subdivision that takes a few years to build out, as opposed to 5% of the population of Zacatecas hammering away in a 500 lot subdivision), so there's not the critical mass needed for traditional food trailers or vans, whether they sell tacos or cannolis.

    Buffalo's neighborhoods have the foot traffic (my ex said that compared to Cleveland, Buffalonians seem too "use" their neighborhoods a lot more; she was amazed at the pedestrian traffic she saw), but they're also filled with inexpensive mom-and-pop restaurants. Given the choice of paying $10 for a gourmet meal made from organic artisanal ingredients from a hipster food van, or $6 for a lunch special at a decent red sauce Italian restaurant, Buffalonians will probably go indoors.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I ain't never seen none in these here parts.

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ha ha ha....yes.....

    We had a barbeque place that was apparently using dried dog feces as a fuel to cook the food What would you call that??? MUTT RUB??
    Skilled Adoxographer

  14. #14
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Require these roach coaches to provide ADA compliant restrooms and eating areas and they all go away. Then blame the Feds.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Require these roach coaches to provide ADA compliant restrooms and eating areas and they all go away. Then blame the Feds.
    When I think of "roach coach", I think of the mobile variety as opposed to these permanent, hip-looking Austin trailers. Usually an older-model pickup with a metal-paneled trailer that flips open to reveal food items that were presumably cooked somewhere else, plus the occassional grilling apparatus for hot dogs/sausages, etc. The operator drives around to workplaces (usually construction sites), blasts his horn jingle upon arrival to alert everyone of his presence ('dixie' is quite popular for some reason, regardless of location), hops out sporting an apron, hawks his wares with wad of cash in hand, and rolls out to the next destination. The whole operation is gross and "roach coach" is thus a befitting term. The funky-looking hipster trailers may very well be roach-infested, but I think the attention to design and their novelty-act nature gives off the impression of cleanliness.

    I can report that I have not encountered a hipster trailer anywhere in upstate NY or New England, but I haven't been looking for them either.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I think it may be a bit cold here in the Great Lakes to have many of them, and the lack of foot traffic around most of the Detroit area hurts too. Anytime I hear people talking about the great taco trucks in California or Texas, I always get a little jealous.


    Slightly related, here's an interesting story I came across on Slate the other day all about overpriced cupcakes: The Cupcake Bubble
    My sis was gaga over $4+ cupcakes in Laguna Beach. I told her she was pathetic. She bought me a cupcake and made me eat it. Tasted like Hostess.

    Want a good taco truck? There is usually one parked at Michigan and Martin in the afternoons and there are old ladies selling breakfast encheladas on the side of the road at Michigan and Central. Up North there is a taco truck that is usually on the side of the road in Standish as you enter town. On my last voyage it was S of West Branch.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    I'm having a hard time seeing a semi-permanent food trailer in South St. Louis, not that I don't think the idea is fabulous. I can picture residents wanting a brick facade glued to it or being a magnet for airborne GM B bodys.

    I can picture them much more easily in KC.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    We are currently seeing an explosion in this trend. With shows like Food Network's "Food Truck Race" and the acceleration in growth of our downtown entertainment district, which has virtually no restaurants open late at night, they are popping up everywhere downtown AND at school campuses. Our ordinance requires them to obtain a 'permit', which we recently found out wasn't taking anybody that needed to be included into consideration (fire marshal/building official/planning director/etc). The ordinance requires a 'license' to be on public property, but other than that, allows it; this contradicts another part of our code which does not allow it in city parks or on city property and violates agreements the city has made with specific vendors. Lots of anger there. The 'permit' is intended for sales on private property - which in the past were being handed out like candy without checking the zoning - lots setting up in residential neighborhoods and the like. It's a huge problem for us that we need a drastic overhaul of ordinance to address.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    BIG issue around here > seems all the hipsters want them, but the biz owners and groups are very vocal against due to loss of biz... funny, the biz groups are usually the folks speaking out against gov regs; but in this case, they want more!

    This is sort of a sad issue for me, as my fav tamale guy had to leave town due to being denied a permit...

    Also of interest: this Sunday (Sept. 2, 2011) the episode of the Greast Food Truck Race Season 2 on the Food Network takes place in our fair city [which was filmed last May]... weird.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  20. #20
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    A local restaurant/bar and a coffee shop tried to host Oklahoma City's first food truck event last Friday night. Less than 30 minutes after it started, 40 officials from 3 different state/local agencies converged on the event in synchronized fashion and shut them down for things as bad as lack of license (only one truck) to things that seem pretty small and were contested by the vendors, both at the event and in The Oklahoman the following Sunday. Visitors attending the event (out-of-towners, not locals) described the sweep as a show of force similar to a swat team showing up - several of the members were armed law enforcement with OK's ABLE Commission. Anywho, speculation is running rampant about the way it was conducted (why didn't the gov't agencies contact the groups beforehand, since it was widely publicized and had applied for permits, etc.), and there is a strong local contingent who is convinced it's either the strong influence that brick & mortar restaurants have over the city and state governments, or the power of certain local developers who don't like the fact that Midtown is growing in popularity as a night spot at the expense of Bricktown.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    Church Street Burlington has quite a few cart vendors that are a little different than the normal truck fare. Things from crepes to Indian to gyros to just soups. But nothing that looks quite so cute and hipster. Am I the only one who finds those airstreams to be adorable?! Especially in a little coordinated park?

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    I'm surprised that no one's mentioned that Philadelphia has a large "food truck" culture which is decidedly not hipster. The food trucks are gathered around the UPenn campus in West Philadelphia and in Center City. A wide range of food from Chinese to the ubiqitious cheesesteaks/burgers. The edgier food trucks served Mexican and Korean food. A few veggie ones exist.

    The food trucks are heavily popular with customers from all walks of life so I never thought of them as hipster.

    I'm told the food truck scene is starting to grow in Baltimore and DC.

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