Fancy food trucking

Blocks from PBA, Curbside Gourmet serves sophisticated meals at a reasonable price.

Tender pork is marinated in a tangy mojo seasoning. It is then added to a soft taco shell. The taco is topped with chunks of tomato, corn, and scallions and served with a lemon wedge on the side.

Also on the menu, are crab cake sliders, basil zucchini soup and mahi tacos with mango salsa. This is not your local sit-down restaurant. This is gourmet food truck, Curbside Gourmet.

Curbside Gourmet is the first of its kind in West Palm Beach. “There is something fun about going to a mobile kitchen and getting a fast meal,” says owner Mary Brittain, “It’s a different experience”.

Gourmet food trucks don’t serve your average street food. “There is a difference between a food truck and gourmet food truck,” says Curbside Gourmet chef Mathew Somsy.

Jochen Esser, organizer for Gourmet Truck Expo, has seen simple dishes like pizza, hamburgers, and fries to more elaborate dishes like alligator, frog legs, and dishes that contain Kobe Beef on gourmet food trucks. The Gourmet Truck Expo specializes in creating food truck events in South Florida.

Brittain describes Curbside Gourmet as “sophisticated meals in a simple environment.”

"The ingredients are really fresh and the price is reasonable," says Derek Garrett, Curbside Gourmet customer.

According to National Restaurant News, a food truck’s menu is just as important as its brand. Brittain considered this when designing the food truck with local graphic designer Hillary Jordan.

"We didn’t want to be an eye sore on the side of the road," Brittain says.

As for the food at Curbside Gourmet, most of it is prepared in a local commercial kitchen the morning of, loaded on the truck and the meals are made to order. If ingredients are forgotten, and are then not available on the truck, the chefs make the dishes work to satisfy the customers. “Everything must be on the truck when we leave; if not we have to go without,” Somsy says.

The space on the truck is much smaller than a normal restaurant. The three-person crew, consisting of two professional chefs and a cashier, maneuver around each other during the lunchtime rush.

Somsy says the atmosphere is “hectic, but rewarding when people tell you how good the food is.”

Some may worry about the cleanliness of eating from a food truck. However, food trucks must pass a rigorous inspection before being allowed to sell food.

"We had to get a lot of permits," says Brittain. Both state and county permits are required and every worker on the truck must have a cooking license.

Food trucks in Florida are under the same rules for cleanliness and safe food handling as regular restaurants.

Gourmet food trucks began in Los Angeles and have become a popular sight in South Florida. “Part of the popularity certainly is caused by pricing that is very reasonable compared to some traditional brick & mortar restaurants,” Esser says.

Curbside Gourmet is located on Dixie Highway near the old Carefree Theater and is open for lunch from 11 to 3:30. Curbside Gourmet also provides a discount for PBA students.