Tampa Bay plays host to a growing army of mobile eateries

On-the-go gourmets.

click to enlarge Gone Bananas serves up frozen whipped bananas — a cold, vegan, gluten-free treat. - Todd Sturtz
Todd Sturtz
Gone Bananas serves up frozen whipped bananas — a cold, vegan, gluten-free treat.

I bring you good tidings of great food news, Tampanians: the food truck scene, she is a-growing! I recently attended the Florida Youth Against Hunger event at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, a food drive that raises awareness of hunger in Florida. It was just my luck that three mobile eateries, including two new to the Tampa food scene, were in attendance to show their support and to serve up a variety of tasty fare.

Tampa's current gourmet food truck king, Wicked 'Wiches (wickedwiches.com), was in attendance and cranking out yummy and unique sandwiches, each served with fresh potato chips that are made while you wait. Specialties include "Kota"-style sandwiches filled with coconut curry and bourbon-mango pork, Italian paninis and "2 Faced" open-faced sandwiches. Wicked 'Wiches black food truck (look for the logo emblazoned on the side) can typically be found in various parking lots around South Tampa.

The new kids on the block are the 3 Ballers Traveling Bistro and Gone Bananas, both of which are small business start-ups trying to serve great food at reasonable prices. I met first with Stephanie Barr, the owner of 3 Ballers, who was working her butt off with her "Food Mix Master" Steven Kane. Today's fare was focused on the event at hand, as many of the attendees were children, and children more often than not aren't interested in getting crazy with their food. Stephanie said that when she asked the event coordinator what to prepare, the resounding response from the kids was just what you'd expect: tacos, hot dogs, pasta salad, etc. So she accommodated the young'uns at the event, but told me that when the truck sets up shop at local farmers' markets it offers a greater variety of foods for every palate — gazpacho, the "Nacho Dog" and individual "pies" in little glass jars, to just name a few.

Gone Bananas, on the other hand, serves up frozen whipped bananas (a welcome treat in this Florida heat) that are similar to creamy, frozen yogurt. Tom and Regene Jones' organic treat is raw, vegan and gluten-free, making it both pretty tasty and pretty healthy, too. Their Banana Whip is intended to be an alternative to typical concession stand food. I for one am happy someone is making a heat-beating treat that I don't have to feel guilty about eating. Find their bright yellow truck at local farmers' markets and festivals.

In other food truck news, Michelle Faedo — known for her world-famous Devil Crabs — recently closed her Ybor City shop after eight years in business. Luckily, she recently decided to go mobile with her Cuban fare and opened Michelle Faedo's On The Go on Aug. 8. Faedo is lending her touch to classic Tampa specialties like Devil Crab, the Cuban (the most argued-about sandwich I know of), and a surprisingly good crab corn chowder. Having just received her city license, Michelle Faedo's On The Go can now be found at the northeast corner of MLK and I-275, among other locations around Tampa and Brandon.

Food trucks are a great way to get good grub at a great price and support local businesses. And as they're all mobile, their whereabouts can most easily be ascertained via their respective Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Go give 'em a try.

Be sure to check out the upcoming Tampa Food Truck Rally on Saturday, September 24th!

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