Food truck season is upon us! There’s a new fleet of motorized eateries and food stands out in full force. If you can’t catch them while they’re parked at a local brewery or an event, head out to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Truck Festival July 16-18 at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
Smokin Ghosts BBQ
Smokin Ghosts BBQ is so good, it’s scary.
Don and Lori Garrett, who hunt otherworldly spirits in their spare time, run the food truck that specializes in Texas-style brisket and pork with a North Carolina touch. Last month, their team, 3 Taxi Guys, won 8th place for Full Hog BBQ in the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
In 2019, the Pleasant Hills couple opened a food stand at 1825 Liverpool St. on the North Shore and launched a mobile unit during the pandemic. They’re booked at various public and private events through October 2021.
Don Garrett, a Georgia native, likes to experiment on the smoker. In addition to traditional offerings, he makes pork belly burnt end tacos and smoked lobster rolls. For $18, carnivores can get a smoked meat platter with a half-pound of pulled pork, a half-pound of brisket, four St. Louis-style ribs, two slices of turkey, white bread, pickles and onions.
Not enough? Pair it with cornbread pudding and brisket mac and cheese and your hunger is sure to vanish like a specter.
Poco a Poco
Jackie and CJ Richter have worked in kitchens and bars from Pittsburgh to California and at plenty of places in between. After stepping away from careers in the media, the Mt. Lebanon couple is making food for the masses Poco a Poco (little by little).
Tacos and other Mexican eats are the driving force behind the menu, but they adjust their offerings based on their mood … and the weather. When it’s cold and rainy, for instance, they’ll whip up grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
“It’s something that we have fantasized about for years and are still figuring out what we want the end realization to be, but being locked up during the pandemic gave us the time and space to make it a reality,” Jackie Richter says.
The Richters are particularly proud of their scratch-made salsas, which they are working to make shelf-stable so they can sell them.
As the parents of two little boys, they aren’t out and about often, but you can occasionally find them in front of breweries and coffee shops in the South Hills, such as Hitchhiker Brewing and Uptown Coffee in Mt. Lebanon and Reginald’s Coffee in Bethel Park.
Poco a poco is a phrase they wrote on top of their family calendar.
“It’s a reminder that while we have big dreams, things don’t happen overnight,” Jackie says. “And that’s okay.”
Mister Rogers would smile if he saw Revival Pasta. Jordan Robarge dishes Italian classics out of an old trolley car.
Revival Pasta, which is based out of the brick-and-mortar Wilkinsburg restaurant Nancy’s Revival, also operates another vehicle that specializes in chili. Robarge’s new ride serves fresh pasta from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company and a variety of homemade seasonal sauces along with desserts and salads.
“All of our businesses are Revival-themed, which speaks to the social mission of our business,” Robarge says. “We employ underserved individuals and it is our goal to help them increase their socioeconomic value by paying living wages and offering entrepreneurship training to help start their own businesses.”
The trolley tools around Allegheny County and the surrounding area five days a week, keeping carbohydrate fans happy. Slather your spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine noodles in classic red sauce or opt for something more adventurous, such as mint and forest mushroom — a dried mushroom blend with asparagus, mint, white onion, lemon juice, ponzu, garlic, olive oil and spices.
The three guys behind Progression Bistro have more than 60 years of brick-and-mortar restaurant experience between them packed into one little trailer.
Christopher Kuhn, Scott Moonan and Jake Mauthe hit the road last year. The name allows them to tweak the menu as they see fit.
“We want to be able to change and be progressive with our food as we change through seasons and the years,” Kuhn says.
Currently, the crew is serving their signature Porchetta Sandwich, which includes shaved pork roast and Emmentaler Swiss with field greens and either Svanentian aioli or whole grain mustard aioli. A chicken sandwich and salmon BLT are coming soon. If you want healthy food on the fly, Progression also offers salads and grain and rice bowls.
Once you’ve had a sensible meal, spring for a homemade double-chocolate brownie.
Progression Bistro hits local neighborhoods, breweries and events four days a week. On June 4 from 4 to 8 p.m., they’ll be at the Traveling Beer Market at Bay 41. Keep up with their progress on Instagram.
Perry Parra was born and raised in Southern California, where he enjoyed making food for family and friends — and they, in turn, enjoyed eating it.
Now, three years after moving to Pittsburgh, he fires up his griddle a few times a month to sling vegan, Latinx-style street grub around the city. Regular stops including Commonplace Coffee in Point Breeze and the Lawrenceville Pop-Up Market, a bi-weekly bazaar outside of Radiant Hall at 4514 Plummer St. He accepts cash and Venmo payments.
Disfrutar, which means “to enjoy” in Spanish, specializes in street tacos. The Chorizo con Papas features potatoes, soyrizo and vegan jalapeno havarti while the Fauxllo includes soy curls seasoned with cumin, cayenne, paprika, onion and garlic and is marinated overnight and topped with onions and cilantro. You can add homemade salsas, including the roja, a blend of toasted guajillo chile, chile de arbol, grilled tomato, garlic and onion.
Once he gets a food truck, Parra plans to expand his menu to include tortas, taquitos, burritos and puffy tacos, a variation of a hard-shell taco made by deep-frying a fresh tortilla to create a light, crispy shell.
In the meantime, he’s working on perfecting his recipes and searching for new places to set up shop. If you see him cooking, take advantage and take a bite.