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Tampa's first Food Truck Rally drives crowd to Hyde Park

From the Wicked Wiches food truck, Shelby Stroud, left, pours sauce on Brian Delgado’s sandwich Saturday.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

From the Wicked Wiches food truck, Shelby Stroud, left, pours sauce on Brian Delgado’s sandwich Saturday.

TAMPA — After two hours sweating in line, Angelea Waygood bit into a deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich and sighed.

"This is so good," she said. "I don't know that it's worth the wait, but it is really good."

Waygood was among about 3,000 people who braved the heat Saturday afternoon for Tampa's first Food Truck Rally, held at Hyde Park Presbyterian Church. Sponsored by Tasting Tampa and 352 Media, the event brought 10 of the bay area's traveling eateries together for a day of food and music.

"We wanted to change people's mind-set that you can't get good food out of a truck," organizer Todd Sturtz said. "This is some of the best food in Tampa, right here."

From Wicked Witches to Fat Tortilla, the food trucks offered everything from crab bisque to jalapeno cheese bites and ginger beer at prices under $10.

Crowds started arriving at 11 a.m., making it difficult for some vendors to keep up with demand.

"We were surprised and a little overwhelmed by the turnout," said Sam Dudding, co-owner of the gourmet kitchen on wheels known as Fire Monkey.

Dudding ran out of his signature duck confit, which is cooked for two days in a tub of fat to ensure fall-off-the-bone goodness, and other menu items shortly after noon. Cooks had to bring more food in, and sizzle up fresh ingredients on site. Still, people waited.

"I'm an entrepreneur and I saw an opportunity in this business," Dudding said. "I guess this proves Tampa is ready for it."

David Borona of St. Petersburg stood in line for more than an hour, twice. The first time he ordered a spider monkey, also known as deep-fried plantains. He went back for the veggie wraps.

"Those things are freaking amazing," he said.

Borona said he wondered when the food truck craze, already popular in Miami and other major cities, would make it to Tampa.

"It's such a different experience because you're outside and you're with a bunch of people," he said. "The lines today just show how much people like it."

Patrons who made it through the line ate and mingled in the parking lot. Some brought blankets to spread out on the lawn. Waygood and a friend stood at a high table, listening to the band.

"I'd never seen any of these trucks before, but they said they're around Tampa during the week at lunchtime," Waygood said. "I'm going to look for them now, because the cost is good and the food is good."

Tasting Tampa and 352 Media will host its second food truck rally Oct. 22 at Christ Fellowship of Tampa, on East Sligh Avenue. More than 20 trucks will park for the event. Organizers suggest people arrive early.

For more information, visit tastingtampa.com.

Sarah Whitman can be reached at (813) 661-2439 or swhitman@sptimes.com.

Tampa's first Food Truck Rally drives crowd to Hyde Park 09/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 11:11pm]
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