Santa Cruz definitely wants more food trucks, if the few hundred people who showed up at Skypark in Scotts Valley last Friday evening are anything to go by.
The event was orchestrated by Food Trucks A Go Go, a local company dedicated to organizing these gatherings. There were at least a couple of hundred fans for only seven trucks, so the lines were long, but no one really seemed to mind. The evening was mild, and tantalizing smells filled the air, drawing kids and families in from soccer practice.
Carmona’s BBQ, Ate3One, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, The Choke Coach, Zocalo Tamales, G’s Tacos and Aunt LaLi’s Mobile Cafe formed a semicircle around a network of interwoven lines and hustled through the hungry crowd. My friends and I decided to skip the snaking line for wine and beer, and grabbed sweet, tangy lemonades from Aunt LaLi’s. We sampled a steaming chicken and artichoke tamale from Zocalo while we waited patiently in line for Ate3One’s infamous Naughty Fries with roasted garlic, bacon, aioli and Parmesan cheese, and Ahi Poke Nachos, wonton “chips” smothered in raw ahi, green onions and wasabi mayo.
With our excellent weather and beautiful parks and beaches, the food truck trend that took root in other cities should have blossomed in Santa Cruz as well. Unfortunately, Santa Cruz city ordinances forbid food trucks from stopping in any commercial area or along West Cliff Drive, Beach Street, anywhere near the Boardwalk, or within 300 feet of a school or park—citing traffic obstruction and unsafe roadways as the main concern. Currently, Scotts Valley has the most welcoming policy environment for these al fresco food courts, which is why the vast majority of Food Truck A Go Go’s events are scheduled there.
Hopefully local laws, brick-and-mortar business and food trucks will arrive at new compromises, because it’s pretty hard to beat spontaneously picnicking on the grass with street tacos, roasted vegetable gyros, and your friends and family.