What I counted on was that I would be sauntering out of there satiated, if not stuffed.
Since the much ballyhooed first-ever Sacramento Mobile Food Festival (SactoMoFo) was held last Saturday, you probably assumed this post-event gourmand report is a few days late due to my anticipated food coma.
Sadly, that was not the case.
Given the advertised lineup of a couple dozen mobile food vendors—a.k.a. taco trucks, food carts, gourmet food purveyors on wheels (please, anything but “roach coaches”)—I was pretty much planning on crawling out of there due to my hoped for over-indulgence of tri-tip mini-burgers, Korean BBQ, fancy-assed sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, etc.
Well, crawl away I almost did, but for an entirely different reason, that being a serious lack of sustenance. After hours of seemingly senseless food lines, I was getting almost too weak to walk.
I guess you can attribute this situation to the festival being a victim of its own success—the true victims being us hungry hordes.
The stated purpose of SactoMoFo—other than to apparently create a semi-provocative acronym—was to draw attention to the City of Sacramento’s overly restrictive governmental regulations that clearly prohibit precisely what occurred on Saturday.
Me…I was there first and foremost for the food.
For the record, the current rules for Sacramento require a mobile food preparer to move after only 30 minutes parked in one spot. Given the time it takes to set up and then break their cooking, that leaves—what?—about 10 minutes to take an order and prepare the food.
That works just fine…if there is only one customer.
I have been told that one of the few mobile food trucks currently attempting to make a go of it in the city, that being the very popular Mini-Burger truck, often has upwards of 50 people lining up shortly after they move to a new location.
This is probably as a result of a location being publicized instantly via a Tweet, which appears to be one of the primary methods of tracking the trucks as they must remain moving targets.
If they follow the law, they would regularly be leaving a whole lot of people standing at the curb with growing stomachs. (No, I never got to sample a Mini-Burger on Saturday.)
So, if the intent was to put the popularity of these food trucks on display, you can say it was a humongous success.
By some reports, there was an estimated 10,000 people crammed into a city park on one square block.
The award for the best understatement of the day, I heard a group who just arrived and upon viewing the mob of humanity wanting food, said,
“Yeah, there’s a line.”
Most people, I think, applied the divide and conquer technique by splitting up to stand in multiple lines, simultaneously.
One of the highly anticipated participants, Spencer On The Go from San Francisco, was serving exotic dishes such as escargot lollipops, ran out of food only 90 minutes into a six-hour event. (No, I did not get one of those either.)
Not that you can discern any semblance of organized lines in my pictures, the self-organized queues snaked in no particular pattern and stretched for 45 minutes, to over 2½ hours.
I heard one woman of a group of newly arrived friends say,
“I’m going to try and just find where the line starts.”
The crowd seemed amazingly in good humor, possibly due to no alcohol being served (they promised, maybe next year).
The sidewalk that surrounds the park was kept clear for pedestrians while the people lined up for food waited patiently to walk up to the truck’s order window when it was their turn.
After, I’m sure, what was a very long de facto tour of the park, I heard one woman at the edge of the sidewalk—in hungry anticipation—say,
“Once you cross the sidewalk, life is good!”
That is assuming that truck is not one that happened to run out of food just about then…
I think what someone asked me as I headed back to my car might have been the common refrain du jour,
“Did you get anything to eat?”
The last quote came from a couple parked near me who also walked away with less than a full belly,
“We are not waiting in line for two hours for a noodle bowl.”
So, as you can see, this report has been less of a foodie evaluation comparing the cuisine of individual festival trucks, and more of a biped traffic report.
If you go to the official SactMoFo website, you can scroll down and read reports from people who fared better than I did sampling the fare being served.
Luckily, I have since regained my strength (thank goodness for Taco Bell) and I look forward to catching up with the other 23 MoFo’ers that I did not get to sample…as soon as I figure out what a Tweet is…