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Food trucks bring good eats to Tidewater’s streets

Nosh Modern Mobile Bistro serves seasonal dishes that pair great with beer; find one of their trucks outside of St. George Brewing Company in Hampton. Photo by Justin Chesney

Tidewater’s food trucks are on a roll. On weekdays, these mobile kitchens crisscross the region, offering diners an alternative to a brown bag lunch. On weekends and evenings, you’ll find them parked at the area’s many breweries. “There’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship between breweries and food trucks,” says Brock Houston, who runs the Nosh Modern Mobile Bistro truck.

Food trucks became more popular during the pandemic because people could keep a safe distance while enjoying a taste of something new. M.J. Medlar, who runs the Capt’n Crabby truck, remembers when customers were wary about ordering from a truck. No more: “Now it’s become huge.”

While local regulations make it difficult for food trucks to park permanently in a spot, you can track them on their websites and social media accounts. Here are 7 food trucks in the Tidewater region you’ll definitely want to try:

1. Flame and Pie Mobile Pizzeria

Flame and Pie Mobile Pizzeria's Flaming Pie, topped with jalapeños, Sriracha sausage, chorizo, and spicy red sauce

Flame and Pie Mobile Pizzeria’s Glenn Allen and his team make each pizza to order. Photo by Justin Chesney

Tidewater’s best pizza just might come out of this food truck. Customers have been known to drive for miles to pick up a pie made by Glenn Allen, who started baking pizza as a hobby but made it his profession after he was laid off from an IT job. Customers don’t seem to mind waiting for their orders, Allen says: “In a good week, we’ll make 500 pizzas.”

Glenn Allen tossing pizza dough inside his food truck

Making pizza started as a hobby for Flame and Pie Mobile Pizzeria’s Glenn Allen. Photo by Justin Chesney

The truck offers 4 crusts: original New York, cracker-thin, deep-dish Detroit, and gluten-free. “You can call Domino’s and order a pizza, but we offer more variety,” he says.

What to order: The Flaming Pie, a peppery pizza with jalapeño, Sriracha sausage, chorizo, and spicy red sauce.

You may also like: Best of Virginia: 22 must-see places to visit this year

2. Avocargo

Shauntel Davis inside her food truck

Avocargo owner Shauntel Davis shows off her signature Jerk Chix bowl. Photo by Larry Bleiberg

Adopting a vegan diet changed Shauntel Davis’ life and helped her lose 100 pounds. She found that a plant-based diet can be delicious—a lesson that anyone who tries her food also discovers.

Her truck’s signature Jerk Chix bowl substitutes chicken with savory, flavor-packed grilled oyster mushrooms. (For veggie-wary customers, she also offers a few dishes with chicken.) 

Eggrolls stuffed with collard greens and sweet potatoes—a dish that tastes like sweet potato pie—round out a meal.

“I love to see what you can do with vegetables,” says Davis, who previously ran a Caribbean restaurant in Portsmouth. Nowadays you’ll find her greeting customers from her truck wearing an avocado-printed headscarf. “I want to make vegan food fun.”

What to order: The Jerk Chix bowl—which also includes rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and barbecue sauce—has just the right amount of Jamaican heat.  

3. Team Fat Kid

Someone wearing a "Team Fat Kid" hoodie holds up a tray with a sliced Best Philly

Several of Team Fat Kid‘s sandwiches, like the Best Philly pictured here, are covered in a delicious bacon-cheese sauce, which co-owner Melissa Fossee calls “liquid gold.” Photo by Justin Chesney

This truck was born from a YouTube show featuring Tidewater chefs trying crazy recipes, like a birthday cake made only from meat. A few years later, they competed on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. Now, Team Fat Kid is a mobile kitchen that offers overstuffed sandwiches at breweries in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk.

Team Fat Kid Truck

Team Fat Kid's motto is “every day is a cheat day.” Photo by Justin Chesney

The key is the bacon-cheese sauce, says Melissa Fossee, who co-owns the truck with her husband, Jason Fossee, and Alex Carr. “I call it liquid gold because it runs our truck.” Get it on burgers, fries, even a pork cutlet. Jason says their formula is simple: “We’re an upscale twist on bar food from a kitchen that runs down an interstate.”

What to order: The Best Philly, a wonderfully messy rib eye sandwich with onion, cheese, jalapeño, fries, and bacon-cheese sauce.

You may also like: 6 best brunches in Virginia you need to try

4. 757 Laos Street Food

A bowl of thom khem, spicy caramelized pork served over rice

757 Laos Street Food’s truck serves Laotian food like the spicy caramelized pork dish thom khem. Photo by Justin Chesney

Phonexay Phoutasen and his wife, Margaret, have a simple recipe for their Southeast Asian food truck: “We make food the way we like it, the way we eat it. We don’t cut corners. We don’t try to Americanize it.”

Phonexay and Margaret Phoutasen inside their food truck

757 Laos Street Food's owners Phonexay and Margaret Phoutasen are always happy to offer suggestions to those new to Laotian food. Photo by Justin Chesney

The result is a truck that serves a cuisine unfamiliar to many diners. Laotian dishes taste like a lighter version of Thai food, says Phonexay: “It wakes up your senses.” He says he’s happy to help customers who are new to Laotian food. “People come up to the window and say, ‘I don’t know what to order.’ I understand.”

What to order: Thom khem, a spicy, caramelized pork dish that may come with an orchid blossom on the side for decoration.

5. Nomads

Mike Enslen and Brandon Bolt leaning against their food truck, Nomads

Nomads founders Mike Enslen and Brandon Bolt bring globally inspired dishes to life with locally sourced ingredients. Photo by Larry Bleiberg

The globe is on the menu at Nomads food truck, whose founders, Mike Enslen and Brandon Bolt, traveled the world for several years before returning to Virginia in 2020. 

Their adventures inspire the seasonal menu. For example, the autumn menu included dishes inspired by various countries: braised chicken from Spain’s Basque region, butternut squash curry from India, and a cod sandwich from Denmark.

Nomad Pollo Basquaise served alongside a glass of beer

Nomads‘ Pollo Basquaise is a delicious mixture of braised chicken, chorizo, potato, roasted red pepper, Granny Smith apple, and red sauce. Photo by Larry Bleiberg

“We’ve been told we’re serving restaurant-quality food without restaurant prices or restaurant waits,” Enslen says. 

Highlights from the pair’s travels decorate the truck, which is plastered with pictures of themselves in Cambodia, Berlin, New Zealand, and other places.

What to order: The menu changes quarterly. Ask for recommendations.

You may also like: 4 sublime winery getaways in Virginia

6. Capt’n Crabby

M.J. Medlar inside her food truck

Capt’n Crabby owner M.J. Medlar serves up their Italiano crab cake sandwich and creamy shrimp salad. Photo by Larry Bleiberg

Tidewater knows its seafood, so M.J. Medlar and her husband and business partner, Steve James, must be doing something right. Since 2014, they’ve been serving Baltimore-style crab cakes sautéed in a cast-iron skillet. “We’ve built our business on them,” Medlar says.

The Capt’n Crabby menu offers a variety of toppings, ranging from bacon to green-chile goat cheese. “We do our crab cakes like burgers,” Medlar adds.

Also popular: the creamy shrimp salad. It’s based on flavors from Kibby’s, a landmark Baltimore restaurant that’s now closed.

What to order: The Italiano crab cake sandwich, served on a potato roll

with prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella, pesto, and basil.

7. Nosh Modern Mobile Bistro

A bed of Nosh Reuben Fries smothered in Thousand Island dressing

The Reuben fries at Nosh Modern Mobile Bistro is a deconstructed version of the classic sandwich. Photo by Justin Chesney

After finishing culinary school, Brock Houston went on to become executive chef at the James River Country Club. But he traded in his toque for a truck and now creates seasonal and locally sourced dishes from two mobile kitchens. “It’s nice to get out of being surrounded by 4 walls,” Houston says.

Whether it’s the frites with truffle oil or the popular Greek lamb sliders, his food pairs perfectly with beer. That’s no coincidence: One of his trucks is permanently parked at St. George Brewing Company in Hampton.

What to order: Reuben fries. Served poutine-style over shoestring fries, this deconstructed version of a classic Reuben sandwich includes grilled corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing.

Charlottesville-based writer Larry Bleiberg will gladly eat standing up when the meal comes from a food truck.

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