2022 Texas Food Truck Showdown
The pandemic put the kibosh on the Texas Food Truck Showdown for the last two years, but this Saturday, March 19, it’s returning to Heritage Square in downtown Waco.
“It’s going to be a fun event for the whole family,” said Alivia Zepeda, director of signature events at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, “and we are very excited to be able to host it again.”
A Food Truck to Satisfy Every Craving
In 2015, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce held its first-ever Texas Food Truck Showdown, expecting a modest 20-truck lineup and a 5,000-person turnout. In fact, more than 15,000 people showed up to taste offerings from 35 food trucks from all over Texas and beyond. Clearly, Texans are proud to support their food culture.
What can you expect from the Showdown? Trucks, trucks, and more trucks from as near as Waco and as far as Oklahoma and Louisiana. So far, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has confirmed 38 food trucks to meet the demand of the expected 20,000 to 25,000 attendees.
The Showdown is both a competition and a showcase, offering food truck owners a chance to compete for cash prizes up to $3,000 while introducing people from all over to their specialty dishes. It is a great way for chefs and business owners to grow their businesses and expand their reach.
Waco’s own The Blasian Asian participated in the Food Truck Showdown in 2017, right after they’d started their food truck, and an enthusiastic reception spurred them to find a brick-and-mortar location for their restaurant.
“We worked all day, all night, no sleep,” said Chevy DuBose, the chef at The Blasian Asian. “Oh my god, I think we were lucky we had the best people that worked for us. Nobody slept. We bought a lot of donuts and ate donuts all day long. We were so tired, but we had a lot of customers that came back to the food truck and said, ‘Hey, we want that thing you sold at the Food Truck Showdown.’ Garlic fried rice and chicken skewers. That put us on the map.”
This year, you’ll find 2019’s Grand Champion, Churros Time, back in the running, along with several other Waco favorites such as Kona Ice Waco, Nico’s of Texas, Le’s Kitchen, and Gelu Italian Ice.
From farther afield, Bougie Vegan A.F. from Belton will offer vegan comfort food, Nipa Truck from Gatesville will be cooking up Filipino fusion, and Yum Pig from Oklahoma will deliver creative spins on porky classics. Tacos, barbeque, cupcakes, donuts, Cajun cuisine—you name it, you’ll find it (and eat it).
Tasty Bites, Refreshing Beverages, Live Music & More
From 10 am to 4 pm, each food truck will offer one signature dish to attendees and a panel of five judges. The judges, often a mix of local and out-of-town food professionals, will choose one Grand Champion for the $3,000 prize and five additional winners for $400 prizes in categories such as “between the buns” and “international.” The People’s Choice Award will go to the truck with the largest number of dishes sold at the end of the day, so don’t forget your vote counts!
Thanh Le, the owner and culinary force behind Clay Pot, served as a judge in 2019 and enjoyed tasting every dish from the trucks competing that year.
“It was fun to see all these people creating sandwiches,” said Le. “How many different ways can you make a sandwich? It was fun to see.” The year before that, there were several desserts offered, and Le said each year features a different mix of culinary traditions.
In order to buy your food, you’ll need to purchase $5 Tasty Tickets from the ticket kiosk. Each Tasty Ticket gets you a four-ounce signature dish from a food truck. After 4 pm, the trucks will offer more dishes from their menus, so come hungry and stay for the full smorgasbord.
You can supplement your culinary tour with beer, wine, and boozy seltzers at the beer and wine garden, hosted by Waco’s own George’s Restaurant. For those with children, the KidsZone will feature a petting zoo, face painting, axe-throwing from Waco Axe Co, and an agility course from D1 Fitness.
(Yes, you read that correctly: axe-throwing in the KidsZone… but with adult supervision!)
If you’re looking to pick up some souvenirs, check out the pop-up market featuring vendors like Ninety-Nine Scents Candle Company and Nature Jewelry. And from noon to 8 pm, live musical acts, including the McLennan Community College Jazz Band and the Brazos Brothers, will perform while you eat and drink.
Head out to Heritage Square to support hard-working chefs and entrepreneurs doing what they do best: feeding their communities. The event promises to be fun for the whole family, including dogs if they are leashed.
The Texas Food Truck Showdown takes place on Saturday, March 19, from 10 am to 8 pm. Visit the website for a full list of food trucks and pop-up vendors, the event schedule, details on this year’s judges, and more.
Learn more about Waco’s local food scene on the Waco Insider podcast Eat, Drink, Repeat, hosted by Angelica Mazé.
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