Delicious treats await Daniel Hooper as he discovers a vibrant street food scene in Texas
It’s hard to keep up with the guy that’s talking to me from the food truck’s window. His apologies spill out from the Sandwiches Around The World truck — his colleague didn’t turn up for work today, he explains, as he thrusts me my Hot Mess before disappearing back to the sizzling kitchen.
I grab a stack of napkins and take a seat in the back of an old Chevy in Truck Yard — a complex in Dallas filled with a rotating selection of food trucks plus bars, treehouses and retro tat like defunct 7up machines, rusting bicycle wheels and licence plates plastered like tiles along wooden beams. Patrons are a combination of men who definitely own actual trucks and hipsters struggling to maintain dignity while eating. As I tuck in, my dignity is lost too. My double beefsteak piled with cheddar, Sriracha mayo, ranch pickle and egg is as messy — and divine — as expected. Each bite sends more sauce dripping down my fingers.
Located just off Greenville Avenue, Truck Yard is one of many establishments that have sprung up here in recent years. Locals tell me this used to be an area you wouldn’t go out of your way to visit — mainly because there wasn’t anything here. That seems to be changing across the entire city. From Deep Ellum to Bishop Arts District, Dallas is turning into a culinary hotspot.
This is great news for me — I was once told I have the metabolism of a teenage boy and burn my daily calorie intake by the time I get out of bed, so I don’t shy away from overeating. After I fill up on juicy steak, I continue my personal Man v. Food marathon around the corner at Steel City Pops, a gourmet ice-lolly shop with branches all over the South. After deliberating over flavours such as plum with rosemary or smoked fig with cheese, I opt for the Chocolate Chili pop, which is initially creamy with a kick of chilli powder and Serrano pepper.
From here, I head south to Deep Ellum — another enclave of the city that’s gone through a cultural renaissance in the last decade; its wide streets now packed with bars and restaurants. My first stop is Rocket Fizz, a shop specialising in stacks of colourful candy and novelty soda. I buy three, including Bacon (doesn’t taste like bacon), Barf, which has notes of toilet cleaner and the tag line ‘great chunky flavor’, and Stalinade, complete with picture of the moustachioed dictator himself on the label.
I then head to Off the Record with my haul of weird soda to peruse their vinyl collection over a quick drink. Norell, the barman, serves me a Dallas-brewed Deep Ellum porter. I ask him for food recommendations and without hesitation he tells me I must try barbeque. For now, though, the closet meat feast I can get is down the road at Braindead Brewing. I sip their chocolatey Wheat Porter and order the Coma Burger — a towering pile of brisket, bacon, clarified butter, stout mustard, sweet onion jam and cheddar. I didn’t think anything would top my Hot Mess, but this is undoubtedly the best burger I’ve ever had. As I finish the last moreish bite and descend into a meat-induced stupor, I’m left wondering — does my travel insurance cover this?