Starting tomorrow night, the successful Food Truck Bazaar is expanding its rotation around Orlando to include one of the most popular stops for tourists: International Drive. Just minutes from Universal Orlando, unique trucks will gather on Aug. 11, 2012 from 6-9pm in the parking lot of the World Bowling Center (7540 Canada Ave) to offer cuisines from around the world with hopes of showing off more than theme parks and chain restaurants to those visiting the city.
The list of trucks scheduled for this first-ever I-Drive event is: The Crepe Company, Big Wheel Provisions, Korean BBQ Taco Box, Bem Bom, Firehouse BBQ, Yum Yum Truck, Pop Craft, Cafe Cocoa Mo, 5Gastronomy, Twisted Cuban, Darland Bakery, Ice Cream Social, Cafe Rouge, Pupusas. (Subject to change)
Local blogger and Food Truck Bazaar founder Mark Baratelli calls the event a “travelling community dinner,” having grown tremendously in popularity and organization since its debut in March 2011. He hopes to change the way visitors see Orlando’s food options. “If I can be a small part of the effort to change tourist’s perceptions of what Orlando has to offer food-wise, I’ll be a happy guy,” said Baratelli. “Street food is a key part of a city’s food eco-system, in my opinion. This will round out the diverse and wonderful offerings I-Drive’s already offers.”
Convincing tourists to skip the many established and well-reviewed restaurants up and down International Drive in favor of spending an evening at The Food Truck Bazaar is a challenge Baratelli is up for. “We’ll do our best to get the word out to tourists through many channels,” he explained. “Once they arrive and eat, they will be hooked. And they will take that experience back with them to their hometowns, and hopefully word will spread that Orlando has a food truck scene… and its good!”
Beyond the I-Drive stop, The Food Truck Bazaar is being held at 11 other locations around the Orlando area this month. Bazaar regulars already have their favorites. (I personally frequent the Fashion Square Mall dates.) But Baratelli invites locals to give the new venue a try.
“How cool would it be to get to be at one of our events and be able to talk to a tourist and answer their questions about your city? Suggest neighborhoods, cool hang outs, local events. Locals are our city’s best advocates and The Food Truck Bazaar is one way the co-mingling can take place. How wonderful would it be for a tourist to get some ‘locals only’ advice and end up somewhere in our city they never would have known about otherwise? The co-mingling can do nothing but benefit the tourists and guests.”
It’s an adventurous way to look past the usual Orlando hot spots and sample something new, often at extremely low prices. My personal favorite of The Food Truck Bazaar trucks still remains the Korean BBQ Taco Box, which itself has turned into a small, multi-truck franchise since the first Bazaar last year. It’s always a #9 Spicy Pork Taco combo for me:
And my wife has become loyal to the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, making friends with their chefs and always getting excited over the new flavors they regularly introduce:
As a Food Truck Bazaar regular, I recommend bringing drinks, folding chairs, and perhaps even a portable table, as few trucks have their own areas to sit and eat. A cooler is also handy, not only for keeping drinks cold, but for bringing home leftovers afterward. Despite their low prices, portion sizes can be huge!
The list of participating trucks varies from date to date and stop to stop, but no one leaves The Food Truck Bazaar hungry.
More information about Orlando’s Food Truck Bazaar can be found at TheFoodTruckBazaar.com, including dates, locations, and truck lists. And it’s always a good idea to find and follow each individual truck on Twitter, an easy way to figure out when and where they’re serving.