Tune in tonight to Metro Center Outlook on WUCF TV for an episode about Central Florida's food truck scene. Host Diane Trees interviews Mark Baratelli of TheDailyCity.com and producer of the Food Truck Bazaars, and I give her a tour of one of the food truck gatherings -- her first taste of food from a truck.
The episode will air again Thursday at 10 p.m., and it will be available at UCF's YouTube page sometime tomorrow.
Orlando's food truck trend continues apace after it kicked into high gear just a little over a year and a half ago when Baratelli hosted the first Bazaar. Of course, food trucks aren't all that new. Entrepreneurs have been serving food from trucks and mobile carts for decades. What is new is the focus on a finer quality of foodstuff served from the trucks. Also new is the concept of rallying the trucks in gatherings, such as the Food Truck Bazaar, like big, open-air mobile food courts.
But not all the people who serve food from trucks follow the crowd. Some are content to sit on a street corner, alone, and wait for the world to find them. And a lot of them also serve some pretty tasty food.
T.K.'s BBQ is one of those, and it predates the food truck trend. T.K.'s truck -- not the prettiest thing on the road, but quite functional -- can be found Fridays and Saturdays at the corner of Church Street and Parramore Avenue, just west of downtown Orlando. T.K. is a retired postal service worker who got bored. He had always dabbled in barbecue, usually preparing for friends or special occasions. He told me that his wife encouraged him to give the food truck a try -- six years ago.
He's very happy with it, he told me. And I think the people who pull over to try his food will be, too.
That's what I did one night while passing through the area. At first I was wary when I approached (see above reference to it not being the prettiest thing). And in fact, after looking over the menu and not seeing anything jump out at me, I started to walk back to my car. "Hey, where're you going," T.K. called at me. "You haven't even tried anything yet." As I turned to offer a lame excuse, something along the lines of I'll come back some other time, I saw that he was holding out a sample of sliced pork through the window on the side of the truck for me to try. I had a taste. He had me. I had his ribs.
Ribs are my favorite form of barbecue, and I can be pretty critical of them. The best ribs, for me, are the ones that aren't quite fall-off-the-bone done but which are almost ready to. The meat should, of course, be tender, and the seasonings and sauces should be a complement to the smoky porkness rather than the dominant taste. T.K.'s ribs were right on. And the side dish of collard greens was good, too. I will certainly be making another trip to find T.K's BBQ, whose motto is "better than best."
You can find T.K.'s BBQ at the corner of Church Street and Parramore Avenue from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The phone number is 407-394-9807.