When did this start to happen?
Don’t get me wrong. It is pretty cool, and it is fun to have this dedicated place where you can get a drink, and a choice of some delicious food from five or six options. But I did not know that food truck stops have become such a big thing. I traveled down to Bend last night to visit with an old friend at one of these places, and along the way I could see a collection of food trucks gathered together like a small herd at many locations along the way. According the local news, there are even more of these spots all over Bend. I was even invited to go to a different one while I was staying outside of Portland but couldn’t make it because I was still under quarantine protocol at the time.
My point is that I have been away from the country for a couple of years, and all of a sudden, it has become a thing. I know that the food truck is not a new thing. It had been around long before John Favreau highlighted the story of a man’s adventure with one in his great movie, Chef, and I had even eaten from a few of them from time to time. I also knew that there were places where they would gather in order to sell their feasts; I had visited them in Colorado and Seoul, but usually during some kind of festival so they had a reason for gathering. It is just that they are all over the place now, and seem to be more ubiquitous than a regular restaurant, especially in the Central Oregon area.
The one I went to last night was called On Tap, and it was located by the St. Charles hospital underneath the shadow of Pilot Butte in the eastern part of Bend. It boasts of having the most beer on tap than any other location in Bend, even though it does not brew any of the beer that it serves. Most of the selection comes from local breweries even though I did see a couple from the east coast and one from Colorado on the list. They also had a nice selection of wines, and various ciders (which has also become a thing while I was gone). You go up to the counter, order your drink from a couple of pushy bartenders (they could have been a little more patient as I read through the selection), and then find a spot at one of the many picnic tables found on their grounds. It has a very communal atmosphere, and I would imagine would be even better if people did not have to socially distance themselves due to the straggling effects of the pandemic still lingering on. I don’t know what happens during the winter. The bar is located in a permanent structure that can be closed up with some seating still available, but the amount is severely reduced because of this. But then again, Bend is a big tourist destination during the summer, so maybe On Tap can make a bigger chunk of its money during these months, and allow that to give them what they need to coast during the rest of year.
The food I had was really good as well. I had a shrimp po’ boy, and it was nice to have some cajun food again after not seeing a place where you could get for so long. It was really tasty though I wish it could have a little bit more of a kick with it, but then again I am in the Pacific Northwest, and this is not something that is always offered with the food out here. They had a lot of other selections as well with vegetarian, Mexican, Asian fusion, bar-b-q, and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. Of course, I couldn’t taste it all, but the food that I saw being carried around all looked delicious.
Families and dogs were even welcomed. I saw many children run and duck through the tables, and they even gathered on the grassy patch at the far end for a game of tag. The dogs were always looking for a piece of dropped food or a pat on the head from the people passing by. The food, drink, outdoors, and people created the perfect atmosphere for a great summer evening. It does not mean that I will hunt out another one of these herds every night, but I would enjoy finding different ones, or coming back to this one so I could try some of the other cuisine. It was all around a fun evening.
I guess I now understand why this has become a thing.