Increasingly popular Topeka food trucks offer an expanding variety of cuisines

·6 min read
Smokey Dunks, owned by Duncan Lee, often sets up shop in the parking lot by Owls Nest, 3411 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Lee has developed a Facebook site where foodies can go to find the location of their favorite food truck.
Smokey Dunks, owned by Duncan Lee, often sets up shop in the parking lot by Owls Nest, 3411 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Lee has developed a Facebook site where foodies can go to find the location of their favorite food truck.

Food trucks are springing up everywhere. Their offerings are expanding as well, giving people the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and try something new.

Antojitos Bermudez, at S.E. 21st and California Avenue, offers shaved ice along with some out-of-the-ordinary Hispanic offerings.

On a recent visit, Michele Townes ordered chilindrinas, which feature a flour fritter topped with an assortment of fresh vegetables and other toppings.

"I think it's good and refreshing looking," she said.

Michele Townes orders a plate of chilindrinas from the Antojitos Bermudez food truck at 21st St. and California Ave.
Michele Townes orders a plate of chilindrinas from the Antojitos Bermudez food truck at 21st St. and California Ave.

Food trucks can be found often at the NOTO Arts District on N. Kansas Avenue and Friday Night Flicks at Evergy Plaza, 630 S. Kansas Ave.

Sometimes, they are at sports venues, such as those for baseball, softball and soccer.

They also tend to congregate on the first Saturday of every month at Helping Hands Humane Society, 5720 S.W. 21st St., where music is played and funds are raised for the organization.

Many trucks simply park in various locations around town, although it can be difficult to pin them down without notification of their plans.

Setting up in shopping centers can be a win/win situation, since shoppers buy from trucks, food-truck regulars buy from stores and locations become more predictable for foodies.

Chef LaMona loves the relationships that develop where she parks

LaMona Scroggins, owner of Chef LaMona, prepares a plate of fried fish for her popular catfish sandwiches. She often parks at 115 S.W. 29th St.
LaMona Scroggins, owner of Chef LaMona, prepares a plate of fried fish for her popular catfish sandwiches. She often parks at 115 S.W. 29th St.

Chef LaMona Scroggins serves Cajun cuisine, with her own special catfish sandwiches, shrimp sandwiches and gumbo. She usually parks at 115 S.W. 29th St.

"Everybody's really great about letting me park in the parking lot whenever I want to," Scroggins said. She plans to start parking there Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

She stressed, however, that guests should follow her truck tracking site in case plans change or she has trucks at additional sites.

Flexibility is the reason Scroggins gave for choosing a food truck over a more traditional restaurant.

"Opening up my food truck gave me more time with my family," she said. "And it gives me the decision on when I want to work."

It also allows her time to cater and teach cooking classes, although this summer, she plans to be out and about in the truck as much as possible.

Scroggins has been known to park her food truck at Prairie Band Casino & Resort, especially on Sundays and concert nights.

"I'm Native," said Scroggins, who is a member of Narragansett Nation. "So I like being out that way, like being on a reservation."

Topeka Official Food Truck Group is the place to find trucks

Smokey Dunks owner Duncan Lee holds up a slab of smoked ribs as he poses with his son Malachi Lee, 12, in the parking lot in front of the Owls Nest, 3411 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Customers can place orders through apps like Grubhub or stop by to order directly.
Smokey Dunks owner Duncan Lee holds up a slab of smoked ribs as he poses with his son Malachi Lee, 12, in the parking lot in front of the Owls Nest, 3411 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Customers can place orders through apps like Grubhub or stop by to order directly.

The Topeka Official Food Truck Group, a Facebook group run by Duncan Lee (who has a truck called Smokey Dunks) has compiled a list of food trucks in Topeka and encourages them to share their upcoming plans on the site.

"I'm reaching out to all the food trucks and telling them to send me all their contact information, all their menus, where they're going to be this week, what events they have," Lee said.

Field, who often parks in the Owls Nest parking lot, 4311 S.W. Topeka Blvd., offers a wide variety of barbecue items, including burnt ends and ribs, several sides and cheesecake in a jar for dessert.

So why are food trucks so popular these days? Lee had several theories centering on cost, time and the summer heat.

"By the by the time you go to the store, buy every ingredient you need to prepare your meal, spend the time to prepare your meal ... that's time you could be spending with your family," he said. "Now that we're in the summertime, nobody wants to turn on their oven. Nobody wants to turn on anything hot now."

The list is long, but may not include all food trucks in Topeka

A strawberry and pineapple Dole Whip served in a cone can be bought at Pineapple Dream for $3.
A strawberry and pineapple Dole Whip served in a cone can be bought at Pineapple Dream for $3.

Although Field said he may not know of all the food trucks, he shared quite a few with The Capital-Journal. Here are a list of food trucks that had either independent websites or Facebook links that are active.

• Pineapple Dream Topeka offers pineapple and other flavors of nondairy cones, as well as floats and other drinks. Its home base is 6750 S.W. 29th St. and it has been spotted at Evergy Plaza's Friday movie nights.

• Snoutherns Food Truck and Catering serves Caribbean food, with sweet potato tarts, peach cobbler and pound cake for dessert. Its schedule is posted on Facebook.

• JLG Mexi-Q brings traditional smoke with a Mexican twist, offering burritos, tacos, fajitas, fajita tacos, sandwiches and nachos.

• Lupita’s Tacos serves Mexican favorites, including menudo and elote on Sundays. The truck is usually parked at S.E. 25th and California Avenue.

• Poppin Minis offers mini doughnuts. Its website is up to date with times and locations it plans to be for the week.

Sharon and Richard Fergison stand in front of their Poppin Minis food truck.
Sharon and Richard Fergison stand in front of their Poppin Minis food truck.

Poppin Squeeze offers fresh-squeezed lemonade with optional flavorings, smoothies, several flavors of kettle corn, and vanilla and chocolate ice cream sandwiches

• Ronn’s Jazzy Doggs sells several variations on the all-American treat, as well as smoked bratwurst and burgers. The Man Cave burger piles on just about everything.

• Uncle Tae’s Kitchen provides variety, including seafood boils, buffalo chicken wraps and sweet heat hot wings. Customers can place orders in advance.

Tacos El Guitarron serves burritos, quesadillas and tortas as well as tacos. It usually parks at 1234 S.E. California Ave. and 801 S.W. 6th Ave. The business only accepts cash.

• J Rocks Smoke House concentrates on barbecued chicken, pork and beef  and assorted side dishes. The truck parks often at 3440 S.E. 29th St.

• The Traveling Lunch Box has turkey legs, chicken quarters, pulled pork nachos, brats on a bun and pulled pork sandwiches, as well as frozen candy bars.

The Burger Bus is a school-bus themed food trailer specializing in burgers and pulled pork. It also serves grilled cheese, hot dogs and loaded baked-potato salad.

• Flavor Wagon_785 serves street tacos, pork sandwiches, flavor wings, turkey wing meals and salads.

• Soul Fire Food Co., which also has a storefront at 2511 S.E. California Ave., offers pulled pork, wings, ribs, brisket, etc. The business has a track the truck feature on its website.

Kona Ice allows foodies to choose their own flavors of shaved ice.

The menu for DJ's Catering food truck includes a selection of specialty hotdogs, nachos and chili.
The menu for DJ's Catering food truck includes a selection of specialty hotdogs, nachos and chili.

• Dj’s Catering offers all-beef hot dogs — including slaw dogs, fire dogs and Rueben dogs — sandwiches, corn dogs, chili and nachos.

• Last Minute BBQ is a competition team that offers the barbecued items one would expect, as well as a turkey sandwich and a sampler of its items.

• Cities Edge BBQ offers barbecued items, as well as jalapeño cheddar sausage and jalapeño cheesy corn.

Poblanos Grill offers cemitas poblanos, sope, quesadillas, pupusas, huaraches and panbazos. It usually parks at 3035 S.E. 6th St.

• Bobby’s Food Co. carries burnt ends, Philly cheesesteak, chicken feta tacos and chimichurri steak tacos, among other items.

Tod's BBQ serves shredded brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches, the Ellie, Frito pie and Fay's Mac Attack.

Stumpy's Smoked Cheese has gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, pulled pork mac and cheese, fried cheese curds and smoked cheesecake.

• Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch offers Kalua pig, Kalbi ribs, Teriyaki, Poke and Katsu.

The Urban Farmer offers an assortment of smoked meats and a menu that is constantly changing. The food is grown and raised locally.

Know of other food trucks? Contact us so we can add them to the list.

Catheryn Hrenchir is a feature writer for The Topeka-Capital Journal. She can be reached at chrenchir.gannett.com or (785) 817-638.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Topeka food trucks gain popularity, offer a variety of cuisines