A few weeks ago, I was riding my bike past an otherwise quiet hotel parking lot on the edge of EaDo when I spotted it: a Taco Bell-branded food truck. The truck was dormant, its driver perhaps holed up in the cheap hotel, and I've yet to see the truck since. I wonder if it was just passing through Houston on its way to a market that's more welcoming to food trucks, although I admit I wasn't eager to sample its fare. Once you've made a late-night, half-drunk, face-size dent in a box of Doritos Locos tacos, you've pretty much experienced Taco Bell to its fullest.
Chain and/or fast food restaurants have been entering the food truck game in larger and larger numbers each year, with Taco Bell as only one example. Applebee's and Sizzler both have their own branded trucks now, and the Huffington Post has recently proclaimed that it's only a matter of time before corporate food trucks "kill mobile dining's street cred for good."
The editor-in-chief of our paper even spotted a McDonald's food truck hawking Big Macs and fries outside of the Alley Theatre one odd night downtown -- although the truck has since disappeared. McDonald's corporate office was of little assistance in trying to track down the ephemeral food truck, saying only:
Approximately 85 percent of McDonald's restaurants are owned and operated by independent businesspeople. As independent owners, McDonald's franchise owners have the authority to make certain operating decisions as they relate to their McDonald's restaurant operations. As such, decisions regarding the use of a food cart are at the discretion of the Owner/Operator of each location.
Well, you know what, McDonald's? I didn't want to eat at your dumb food truck anyway. (No matter how much I like a quarter pounder with cheese every few months.) Thanks for nothing.
On the other hand, there are a few chains and fast-food restaurants I wouldn't mind seeing enter the food truck market, the Huffington Post be damned...
5. White Castle
There are no White Castles in Houston, which is enough of a travesty -- the damn place invented sliders, show a little respect -- but this oversight could easily be rectified by sending some of those tasty little squareburgers down Texas way on a truck. Think of the business it would do in potheads alone.
4. Red Lobster
Cheddar Bay biscuits. Outside of a bar, after a long and fruitful night of Lone Star consumption. Outside of a coffee shop and stuffed with sausage, eggs and cheese for the best breakfast sandwich ever created. On the edge of a park, where you could picnic on buttery biscuits and whatever else Red Lobster sells to your heart's content. The point is: Cheddar Bay biscuits. All day and all of the night.
What's better than a fast food restaurant that's open 24 hours, and serves super-amazing breakfast items like taquitos and chicken biscuits for a good chunk of those 24 hours? A food truck that's open 24 hours, stopping only to hit the commissary before getting back to the business of driving Whataburger Juniors with cheese and grilled jalapeños straight into my mouth.
2. The Cheesecake Factory
Forget the rest of the War and Peace-length menu here. I just want the cheesecake. All 56,092 flavors of it. On a truck. Preferably a tractor trailer-sized truck to hold all that fatty goodness, called "The Cheesecake Tractory."
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SHOW ME HOW
1. In-N-Out Burger
The lines. Dear God, the lines. You'd need an entire parking lot just to hold the lines and the cars. This reason alone places In-N-Out Burger in the No. 1 spot.