Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival - Monmouth Park
Memorial Day Weekend - All 3 Days
We went today. Last year, and this year we told ourselves we weren't going to go, but we ended up there anyway. 4 people in our group total.
Lines where probably 5 to 10 minutes per truck to order, except for the really popular ones. The park was busy, but not annoyingly crowded. It was a good day to get out and relax, have a good time, loose a couple bucks on the horses, people watch, and enjoy great food.
I think it probably was a good decision on behalf of the management to spread the event out over 3 days instead of just two. They have a good thing going here.
When we arrived at about 2:30, parking lot was pretty full, however, we are ambulatory and it was no problem walking to the entrance. The security and traffic control staff where doing a great job controlling the crowd flow and vehicle traffic.
If you are serious about the food only, I would recommend getting there early when they open. I assume the crowds will be less hectic and the trucks are not likely to be sold out of certain items.
Also, remember, you can bring in your own coolers and bags, so I would recommend bringing your own soda/water/beer/wine/etc with you. You will then not have to wait in line for over priced beverages. You can also bring your own chairs and picnic stuff if you want to make a day of it like that.
It will be a long day of standing on your feet as well, so I would recommend wearing comfortable sneakers or the like. While watching some of the gorgeous leggy women walking about, I felt the pain for them from their giant angled wedge shoes. Poor choice of foot wear if you want to stand in line for food trucks. However, a great sight for a fat guy waiting for a sandwich.
Don't forget your sunblock. There isn't much shade. I was painting on SPF 50 like I was applying coats of varnish to an antique chest of drawers. This pasty white Irish boy got away with only the slightest of scorching today.
I tried to convince the group to go with the "divide and conquer" approach, where we would each wait in line for a different truck and share the food, so we got to experience as many items as possible. It worked to a limited extent.
Two people in our group just went to eat lunch, drink beer, and bet on horses. One person likes food trucks but has a very low tolerance for lines. I wanted to eat till I couldn't move any longer. I also wanted to focus on the trucks that I would have little probability of visiting in regular everyday life.
There is a menu posted on line for the various trucks, however, I would use this as a guide only, since I did notice some variations in what was actually offered. There where some price differences also, and some things where sold out.
So that's enough rambling. Time to get on with the Best of what I ate/tasted today:
Morris Grilled Cheese - Classic Cheddar - most of the more complex sandwiches where sold out by the time we got to Morris. However, I don't think I've ever had a more perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich anywhere. These guys are artists. Bread, butter, and Cheese.. a simple recipe, but these guys take it and make it perfect. Well worth the money and the wait.
Ahh! La Cart - Tatostix- Ahh la cart is based down in Cranbury, and I've had his food before. Most of the time he does the things like the food truck classics.. Cheesesteaks burgers, hotdogs, etc. Today at the festival, he had sprial cut potatos on a stick, fried and then topped with your choice of flavors. This of course is not a new concept, but at a food truck war, you need a 2 foot long potato deep fried. It was perfectly cooked, and complemented everything else we ate. Well worth the wait.
E&S Steak and Take - This truck is based in Newark, and has been on my radar for a long time as I would have very little chance of visiting it without a special trip. The $6 steak had fresh steak, grilled onions, cheese, and special sauce on a multi-grain roll. This was an amazing sandwich. Well worth the wait. The special sauce is what really puts it over the top. Its a creamy sweet bbq kind of sauce with a hint of pickle relish. I'm usually not a fan of "special sauces" or pickles at all, but this was really a unique taste that everyone agreed was awesome.
Empanada Guy - For three years running, they have been a crowd favorite and for good reason. They had one of the longest lines of all the trucks. They do have two trucks, I believe one is in port reading and the other in Old bridge. We sampled the Chicken and the beef. both freshly fried, crispy and hot. I enjoyed the chicken slightly more than the beef.
There where plenty of trucks/stands that I disappointingly did not get to try. A few of them also had staff that seemed to be moving at a snails pace. Not sure if they where "lost in the weeds" or if its a "slow and steady" thing.
Overall, the crowd was pretty happy, and most of the lines where moving pretty efficiently. It was good experience and I look forward to going back next year.