Tampa food truck roundup: The diverse food keeps on truckin’

The bright orange Da Kline Hawaiian food truck stops traffic on Tampa’s Dale Mabry Highway

The Good Humor men probably started the trend, but fast food addicts and kitchen sleuths are now finding diverse dishes from phenomenally popular food trucks.

With a sour economy, more and more people look for sweetly affordable, convenient grub at a nearby lunch wagon, dinner cantina, or taco truck. The traveling meals-on-wheels are on college campuses, office complexes, weekend street markets and neighborhoods near you. It’s one of the hottest trends in the restaurant business, especially out West.

They’re here, too. Tun-Du-Ree spiced its tandoori and other Indian fare from a truck near MacDill Air Force base before opening two bricks-and-mortar eateries on Bay to Bay Boulevard and Kennedy Avenue.  Yellow, red and green-banded, Jerk Hut buses dispense spicy Caribbean cuisine. I’ve enjoyed the refried beans of the El Taconazo “taco bus’’ rooted at  913 E. Hillsborough for years, although this truck isn’t making tracks anytime soon.

If you haven’t gotten grub from a “gourmet’’ truck, you can check a dozen or more at the Tampa Food Truck Rally, Sept. 24, at Tampa’s Hyde Park Presbyterian Church, 1309 W. Swann Ave. Sam and Cindy Dudding who recently started the engine of their Fire Monkey in St. Petersburg, signed up for it along with The Killer Samich Truck, Michelle Faedo’s On The Go, 3 Ballers Traveling Bistro and Cuppin’ Cakes. Todd Sturtz,  a writer for tastingtampa.com food blog, is the driving  force of this event. (If parking is tight, head over to the lot at Hyde Park Village). ‎A truck rally is planned for Seminole Heights later this year.

More than 50 trucks lined up at an Orange County, California Foodathon last year. Miami and Orlando truck shows have had as many as 3,000 guests ordering heaping helpings.

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, serve as “yellow pages’’ for these food fairs on the move with names such as Streetza, Tampa Bay Brew Bus, Red Eye BBQ (Orlando), The Ravenous Pig (Winter Park), Bite Gastrotruck (Miami), Fish Out of Water Sushi Truck (Orlando), the Yum Yum Truck (Fort Worth, Texas) and Bites in the Heights. No telling what these pioneering fleets will come up with next. And as our evenings cool off, eating on picnic tables sounds like a good thing.

Other Trucks in the Tampa Bay area:

Freshley’s Café
5420 N. Florida Ave., at Hillsborough Ave., Tampa
(813) 361-8190
Hours : 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Prices: $4.00 – $8.00
Known for: Smoked salmon BLT, Thai chicken salad, grilled tilapia tacos with arugula, chicken souvlaki with tzatiki and Napa cabbage with grilled chicken.
Trivia: After seeing the movie, “The Great Food Truck Race,’’ the owners bought a 1959 Airstream for their mobile burners.
Owners: Jackie Bennett, Karen Mitchell, and her mother, Ashley Hoskins
www.freshleyscafe.com

+++++

Da-Kine Hawaiian Café
3316 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa
(813) 531-3035
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon. – Sun. (Stationary now)
Prices: $6.99 to $14.75
Credit cards: MC, V, Discover
Known for: Slow-cooked Sweet Shoya Chicken, grilled Hawaiian Style-Steak (marinated 4 days), Issa’s Sweet Ribs marinated for 3 days, and Broke Da Mouth (hamburger patty).
Owner: Steve Clay
Trivia: “Da Kine”  rhymes with sign and is a common Hawaiian expression that means “something spectacular’’ or “the best.’’
www.dakinehc.com

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Rumberos Bistro
Fridays, 500 Falkenburg Road, Brandon, Saturdays: Boyette Road and Bell Shoals Road at the (Advance Auto parking lot), and on Sunday at different locations
Hours: Noon to 6:30 p.m.
Known for: Traditional  Puerto Rican food such as mofongo, empanadas, plantain balls filled with spiced pork, beef or shrimp, fried green banana patties stuffed with ground beef, rellenos de papa (beef and mashed potato balls).
Trivia: Rumberos comes from the experience when Puerto Rican drummers gather to play at a beach party.
Prices: $2.50 to $7.50
Credit cards: V, MC
(813) 298-4436
Owner quote: “My husband was laid off and we decided to take a jump and do something we’ve always wanted to do,’’ says Hilda Huertas, of Riverview.
www.rumberosbistro.com

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Friday night friends at Fleming’s: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse hosts special tastings every Friday during September. The fine dining restaurant will debut all of the restaurants’ new Fleming’s 100 wines. Managers also offer tastings of its new Small Plates menu, which starts on Sept. 21.Jumbo Shrimp Scampi Skewers, New Zealand Petite Lamb Chops, New Bedford Scallops and Fleming’s Lobster Tempura are some of the new tastes. The tastings, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., cost $25. Fleming’s, 4322 W. Boy Scout Blvd, Tampa, reservations: (813) 874-9463. www.flemingssteakhouse.com

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