Food courts have been said to originate in the United States in the early 1970’s. The Concept of varied cuisines in a central location serving cheap and sometimes local dishes had been established many years earlier in Southeast Asia. They are known in Asia as hawker centers.
These, and probably other factors have steered people into avoiding so-called fast food offered by many of the brand name franchises in food courts. As such, this has led to a couple of dining scenarios that are not linked to a collection of retail shopping options.
Another food option popularized by the demise of the traditional food court drawing heavily on that of the Asian hawker center is that of the fixed food truck park. Examples of this include the Midway Food Park in Austin, TX and the Mass Market Complex in Lakeland, FL. Entertainment and even recreational options are often included to bolster the social interactions that these types of food truck parks promote.
At present, the park has eight food trucks and two food carts. Of the two carts, Chi Dog Go offers a number of hot dog and polish sausage options, while Colada Snow, has many shaved ice options.
Dutckinz, offers a number of sweet treats in addition to gourmet coffees.
On three visits I sampled from the remaining five trucks. Smith Organics was one of them. I thought the menu looked intriguing and ordered a couple of items from it, the Korean beef tacos and the tahini cauliflower salad. The tacos had London broil with brown sugar, soy, kimchi salad, peanuts and a sriracha dressing. The tahini/cauliflower salad had roasted cauliflower, garbanzos, carrots, red pepper and a tahini vinaigrette. Flavor-wise, both of these really didn’t do it for me but, of course, there is more to try on the menu.
A dining companion tried Gyros2go and ordered the lamb gyro. It was excellent and all one could expect from a gyro. On another visit, a dining companion ordered the falafel plate. It was really good and although the pita strips were not really set up to incorporate internal ingredients such as the wonderful tzatziki sauce or hummus spread or any of the other ingredients, we made do and it worked. On the whole, very tasty.
I tried fare from Gigi Gourmet. I do not eat more than one or two burgers a year, and for some reason, ordered a burger from this truck. It was one of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten. It was at least a half pound (after cooking) Angus beef patty, sinfully moist and flavorful as can be. It was topped with applewood smoked bacon, sharp Wisconsin cheddar, caramelized onions and a schmear of goat cheese and fig. It was incredible and I cannot recommend this burger enough.
We finished our tour with the ceviche from Dilly’s Seafood. The ceviche was excellent and most recommended. We were not used to having ceviche on a large tostata and it was a challenge to eat. That being said, once we figured it out, it was a wonderful accompaniment to the rest of our meal that night.
There are a couple things that need to be “tweaked” but are minor in nature. One is the parking and there is no charge for it. There are about 75 spaces adjacent to the park with spillover two blocks away at the Bravo Market strip mall. On weekends, there are shuttles to take patrons back and forth but none during the week. Should it be busy on a weekday I think a two block walk is a minor inconvenience. Additionally, there is no cover for the outdoor tables adjacent to the food trucks in the park. It is the dry season now and I am sure a solution for this will happen before our summer rains.
Open 11AM-10PM Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.