Home Food Celebration Park: A Food Truck Paradise in Naples, Florida

Celebration Park: A Food Truck Paradise in Naples, Florida

Reds Pizza
Gotham West Market NYC (Facebook)

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.

This concept did not really take off until the 1990’s in U.S shopping malls. At that time, food courts consisted of mainly name brand franchises with a few local “mom and pop” establishments thrown in for good measure.
Early in the 21st century, it is Estimated that over forty percent of the average household budget for food is spent on meals that are not prepared at home. In addition, shopping at brick and mortar retailers has been on the decline since the advent of online retailers.
Downtown Denver (Denver.org)

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.

One of these is a food hall, which may be independent of other non-food retailers focusing on local foods and related items. According to one Source, in 2010 there were only about 25 food halls nationally, by 2020 the number is projected to be 300.
(Image: MidwayFoodPark.com)

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.

Recently, a fixed food truck park has opened in Naples, Fl, Celebration Park.
This has been a work in progress by entrepreneur and owner of Three60 Market, Rebecca Maddox, since around 2014. Many permitting hurdles had to be jumped since then, and groundbreaking for the site began in March of 2018 which finally opened in November of 2018.
Celebration Park

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.

[Lots of pictures at end of post]
Of the food trucks, there are BBQ options, like the Nawty Hogg BBQ, and Red’s, featuring pizza and wings.

Dutckinz, offers a number of sweet treats in addition to gourmet coffees.

Smith Organics

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.

Gigi Gourmet Food Truck

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.

On other visits we ordered from the I Love Curry. A couple of things were ordered from here. The samosas were excellent. A fried flour shell containing peas and potato topped with a cilantro/mint and yogurt sauce. Sublime. The winner here was their shrimp coconut curry. The richness of this curry was incredible. More to make it last with the basmati rice and naan bread served with it. Highly recommended.
Dilly’s Seafood Truck

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 is also a full bar on premises. This is great and only adds to the convivial spirit of the park, especially with the entertainment on certain nights here. It is also the only sheltered area of the park in the event of rain.
One of the really good things I saw at the park was the availability of free water from two “Igloo” stations. A great idea and I loved to see this.
Celebration Park was a very good experience. There is really good food and as far as camaraderie goes, it very much taps into the social network these venues were meant to with their advent in Southeast Asia. If you are into boats, Celebration Park is on the water and in a pinch, there could be up to 15 mooring spots for your boat.
Water Station

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.

All in all, Celebration Park is a great space with good food and a great place to meet old or new friends and enjoy some entertainment. The traffic weekdays is somewhat slow with maximum capacity on weekends. I think all will find something they like here in a new and unique venue for food and conviviality in Naples.
It’s a wrap for another post on Forks.
Celebration Park
2880 Becca Ave.
Naples, FL 34112

Celebration Park Facebook Page

Open 11AM-10PM Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.

Peter Horan, Southwest Florida Forks, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Dec. 17, 2018

More food reviews on Southwest Florida Forks