Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday. Today we feature a guest review from Mike Christensen. Follow Mike on Twitter @SCSA31274.
I’ll admit it, I’m pretty late to the whole food truck thing. Really, this whole area is just becoming fertile ground for these mobile restaurants. The city of Alpharetta has embraced food trucks and have gathered numerous ones of them for the weekly Food Truck Alley in downtown Alpharetta. The event is held every Thursday from 5-9 PM on Old Roswell St behind Smokejack. There’s a rotating schedule of food trucks along with live music. The idea is to get folks into downtown for some community fellowship. It’s worked.
There were several problems I noted the first week, but I wanted to see how the event changed and evolved over a few weeks to hopefully get better. The lines at the various trucks were agonizingly long. It took me nearly 45 minutes to actually get to the truck to place my order. As I stood in line, I wondered how long it would take the average person standing in line to decide that it wasn’t worth it and head to a restaurant. In the successive weeks, the crowds have died a little, but lines are still hefty. The city has also added more trucks, nine trucks was the last count up from six the first week.
Another issue I discovered the first week was the lack of bathrooms. I looked all over the place. Not a Porto potty to be had. The next week, I saw several signs labeled “restrooms” pointing the way to the Porto potties. Two to be exact, way across a parking lot. Maybe they were there the first week, but certainly no one could have found them. The week after, there was one more added a little closer to the event. There wasn’t enough seating either. A half-dozen tables were set up, which wasn’t nearly enough for the hoards of hungry folks. People would take over a table and set up camp the whole time. Most people were either sitting on curbs trying to handle their fare, or were taking a hike to the park across the street for the benches. There have been more tables added over the last few weeks but not enough to handle the crowds.
The variety of food to chose from is excellent. Trucks ranging from burgers to sandwiches to meatballs to Vietnamese to tacos to cupcakes give everyone something to like. I visited several trucks including Happy Belly, Mighty Meatball Mobile, W.O.W., Ibiza bites, Pressed for Time (paninis), and Yum Yum Cupcakes. Entree prices range from $7-10 with fries $2-4 extra. Oh yeah, drinks are $2-4 also. So you’re looking at nearly $20 a person at the end of the day. Try several trucks and it really adds up.
Smokejack also had a table set up selling food and drinks. Up the hill from the event, La Casa had a gigantic sign advertising beer and wine for sale. $4-6 for a beer or glass of wine. There was a family at a table with a growler of beer. That’s an idea I can support!
I’m not really swept up in the whole food truck thing. The food is good, not great, and really pricey. What I like most about Food Truck Alley is the sense of community. Families, kids, pets; they’re all there. It’s practically Norman Rockwell. The space is really nice, with one large tree and several smaller ones. Shops like Sis & Moons are open for visitors. There are several buckets of sidewalk chalk out for the kids, and me (I couldn’t help it).
The live music is one of the best aspects of Food Truck Alley. And the best part is, the bands are composed of 12-16 year olds. They’re really good! They jam hits from Led Zeppelin, the Who, Bush and Aerosmith. I was impressed.
Downtown Alpharetta is a really great place to be. I overhead someone say on the way to the Porto-potty, “I didn’t even know this was back here”. I think that’s the idea behind the Food Truck Alley – feed people and get them to come downtown and hang out. Hopefully, the city will address a few of the nagging problems to make this a great event for years to come.