By Sandra Chambers
Jacksonville, Florida, has garnered quite a reputation for its food truck culture. More than 100 trucks, many of which are owned by professional chefs, offer up a wide variety of gourmet and ethnic fare at various locations throughout the Jacksonville area.
With food truck options like On The Fly’s Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp Tacos; Funkadelic’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich; Fusion’s classic Indian, Thai and Mediterranean specials; and desserts like Danilo’s Banana Lumpia, there’s something to please all taste buds.
Every weekend food trucks can be found at local festivals, farmer’s markets, and cultural and sporting events as well as at many local breweries. “Food trucks fit perfectly into our diverse, evolving social structure,” said local author Nancy White, who has written a book about this foodie phenomenon (Jacksonville Food Truck/ Stories & Recipes From the Road, The History Press © 2015).
Much of the success of the city’s food truck industry can be attributed to the JAX Truckies, a collaborative organization of food truck vendors, patrons, bloggers and other entrepreneurs that began in 2012 as a passion-driven hobby of Mike Field and his girlfriend, Caron Steibich. With a current membership of 73 food trucks and 35,000 Facebook followers, the JAX Truckies work with city officials, assist new truckie entrepreneurs and provide a central booking service for events. They also participate in several local charity events. Chef Chris Brown, current director for JAX Truckies, reports that the organization has given back more than $30,000 to the local community.
The annual JAX Truckies Food Truck Championship draws crowds from across Northeast Florida. The 2017 sixth annual championship will take place the first weekend in October. A panel of judges will award trophies, fondly known as Truckies, for the Best Taco, Best BBQ, Best Sandwich, Best Global Cuisine, Most Innovative, Best Sweet Tooth and a People’s Choice Award.
The JAX food truck scene continues to grow with the recent opening of The Court Urban Food Park, the city’s first permanent food truck court. A few trucks have also morphed into brick and mortar restaurants, including Corner Taco, Super Food & Brew and the Happy Grilled Cheese.