Posted in Blogging Marin on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by MCVB Staff
By Whitney Butler
You may think food trucks were devised for our modern convenience, but food on four wheels has been around since the 1800s. Charles Goodnight is credited with designing the first food truck—which wasn’t much of a truck at all!
Goodnight helped establish the U.S. ranching industry and, subsequently, the chuck wagon, or a cowboy’s kitchen on long cattle drives. His rig was a retrofitted Army-surplus Studebaker wagon, pulled by a horse or mule, and featured a rear-hinged lid that transformed into a workstation complete with drawers and shelves.
From humble beginnings, food trucks today have been around the block and then some. But only recently have we embraced the idea of delicious, healthy food on four wheels, and many of the country’s freshest food trucks hail from California. In Marin County, we’re lucky to have a few in our own backyard.
Here’s a look at what our favorite four-wheeled restaurants are cooking; plus, where you can score these amazing meals throughout Marin.
The Agricultural Institute of Marin runs a total of seven farmers’ markets in the San Francisco Bay Area, including its flagship market on Thursdays and Sundays at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. These markets offer nutritional and economic benefits to local communities and farmers—connecting people through agriculture, entertainment and some of the freshest locally produced ingredients and food.
Using fresh chicken from the Central Valley and garlic from Gilroy, Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie serves some of the finest slow-cooked whole chicken in town. On Sundays and Thursday at the Marin Farmers’ Market, locals flock to this non-GMO certified food truck for herb-infused, free-range chicken; organic rosemary fingerling potatoes; and porchetta sandwiches served with housemade onion marmalade.
At the Downtown San Rafael Farmers’ Market on Thursdays, Casablanca Moroccan and Mediterranean Food’s flavors will take you halfway around the world—no passport required. Casablanca’s Yelp page has more stars than a Hollywood movie—people love this food! And with sizable portions, fresh ingredients and lots of creamy hummus, you won’t even notice you’re eating food off a truck.
Enjoy traditional kabob flavors like chicken or lamb sausage served with zesty tahini sauce, garden vegetables and warm pita; or go fresh with a traditional salad made of crispy cucumbers, tomato, tangy feta and olives. Whatever you do, don’t miss the sweet potato fries—amazing.
At the Novato (Tuesdays), Fairfax (Wednesdays) and Downtown San Rafael (Thursdays) farmers’ markets, the bánh mì of Banh Mi Zon taste like no sandwich you’ve eaten and tell the incredible story of Vietnam. The French colonized and took control of Vietnam in the mid-1800s. With them they brought flavors and food techniques that would play a role in shaping the bánh mì. If you visit north Vietnam today, it still looks more like New Orleans than it does Southeast Asia.
That’s the beauty of the bánh mì: It’s fresh-baked French baguettes, pickled daikon and carrot, fresh cilantro, cucumber and jalapeño. Add a smear of good mayonnaise and pâté, and stuff it with your choice of traditional Vietnamese cold cuts.
Off the Grid at Marin Country Mart
Every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine, you’ll find a bevy of delicious food truck options at Off the Grid at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. Marin’s largest gathering of mobile food trucks, Off the Grid features live music and kid-friendly activities with shopping nearby, perfect for walking off a scoop of Humphry Slocombe’s gourmet, one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors like Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee and Honey Graham, which combines blackberry honey ice cream with the light crunch of graham crackers.
The Caribbean Spices food truck brings the heat with its unique take on Haitian and Caribbean cuisine, including calypso shrimp with sweet plantains; jerk chicken, pork or fish tacos; and fried calamari in a spicy creole sauce. A rice-and-beans vegan option includes mixed greens and pikliz, a Haitian condiment of pickled vegetables.
Or for a classic New England lobster or crab roll, hit up the red-and-white Lobsta Truck, which features fresh Maine lobster or Dungeness crab on a toasted split-top roll. Order a side of fries or Cape Cod potato chips and have a sip of fresh-squeezed lemonade—perfect for long summer days in Marin.
While it’s common to see gatherings of food trucks at all kinds of Marin events, follow your favorite food truck on social media to keep a pulse on where it’ll pop up next.