Event Name: Food Truck Rodeo at the Rochester, NY Public Market
Purpose: To engage and excite Rochestarian’s about our local food truck industry
Location: 280 N. Union St., Rochester NY 14609
When: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Cost: Free admission, limited free parking, some paid parking
In addition to selling fresh fruits and vegetables year round, the Rochester Public Market has several fun and interesting events throughout the year. This particular event featured a round-up of over 30 local food trucks serving up their unique cuisine. A local band provided the music and guests were encouraged to bring their own tables and chairs, and stay a while to enjoy and evening of food and music.
The Rochester, NY Public Market is located in the northeast quadrant of the city, at 280 North Union St., approximately three blocks north of East Main Street. There are several free parking lots nearby, including off Railroad Street and Trinidad Street and in the Market District and Marketview Heights neighborhood. In addition, there are a few private, fee lots. We were very lucky to get two parking spots directly across the street from the main entrance, in one of the free lots.
On the market grounds, there are three sheds, two covered open-air sheds and one enclosed shed. The food trucks were parked in the open air sheds, facing inward, towards the center grounds, where the band was playing and patrons were enjoying their food.
Each Food Truck Rodeo at the Public Market features a local band. The music for the 2015 series is generously arranged by Rohrbach’s Brewing Company. For this event, the Dan Eaton Band provided the music, playing original American rock & roll songs. Set up on a stage in the midst of the venue, they were a lively and talented addition to the evening.
Food and Beverages
With over 30 food trucks, and several resident food purveyors, it was a challenge to choose my dinner for the evening. I finally settled on a bowl of mac and cheese and a grilled chicken sandwich, from separate vendors.
My mac and cheese was served by The Original Mac & Cheez food truck. Displayed on the posted menu as Meat Lover’s Mac and Cheese ($8), I expected a traditional looking macaroni in a cheesy sauce, with ground beef added. At least that’s what I was told by the underage worker manning the food window (I would guess he was about 11 years old – is that legal?). However, what I was served instead was penne pasta in a red tomato sauce with tiny traces of shredded meat and just enough cheese to pass it off as mac and cheese. It tasted just ok, but it was not at all what I was expecting based on the menu description. And, for a whopping $8, I expected to see a lot more meat, any meat really, in this small bowl of pasta. This choice left me asking, “Where’s the meat?” and “Where’s the cheese?”
Against my better judgement, I also ordered a “large” bottle of water ($3) from the same food truck. Next time, I will be sure to take advantage of the event rule that each person may bring in one sealed bottle of water each.
Feeling disappointed by my first failed food choice, I wandered among the food trucks, looking for my next tasty morsels. However, the lines at the most popular food trucks were very long (20+ people each), and the heat and the crowd was starting to get to me. So, I based my next pick simply on the length of the line, knowing full well that no line either meant that there was an issue with the food or the price (or both), or that the offering was not unique enough for this foodie crowd.
I chose Mr. V’s for the sole reason that there was no line, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Luckily, the food was great and the prices were even better. I chose a Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($5). What a deal! My guess is that their no-frills approach (more of a stand than a food truck) helps keep their prices down.
Although I was offered various toppings at no additional charge (peppers, onions, etc), I chose to get it plain. I then added a spoonful of green, dill pickle relish. Served on a fresh, hearty roll, this grilled chicken sandwich was tender, moist and delicious – a good choice!
While I was scoping out the food truck with the shortest line, my friend patiently waited for her food to be prepared by the folks at the Tuscan Wood Fired Catering food truck. They were parked at the entrance to this funky, horseless rodeo. I knew that she must have really wanted to try their food because we went back there after making a pass around the entire grounds of the market, to survey all of the offerings – a good idea if you go.
She started with Arancini ($5). Arancini (translated “little oranges”) are stuffed balls of rice, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. They are often stuffed with cheese or a mix of cheese and a vegetable, or whatever else you might like.
She said that it was delicious and that she really enjoyed it. The portion was generous, about the size of a tennis ball, and topped with grated cheese. I liked the presentation, using black and white checkered serving paper in a paper tray, adding a touch of outdoor elegance. Next time, I’ll give the arancini a try!
In addition, she later ordered a personal pizza from the same food truck. This Pepperoni Pizza ($8) looked really good. She said that she especially liked that cup pepperoni. Cut into eight small pieces, this was also a generous portion size, about the size of a frisbee. I liked that it didn’t look greasy, yet it was still flavorful.
The Atmosphere and Experience
Did I mention that this was my first trip to the Rochester Public Market, ever? Yup, I know – after living here all my life, you would think that I would have visited it several times previously. So, this event was not only my introduction to Food Truck Rodeos, but also an introduction to the Rochester Public Market. I enjoyed both! The market really is a medley of people and personalities. Although I didn’t get to see it as one would during a weekend of typical fruits, vegetable and flower selling, I did get the gist of it. Although I love the idea of the market, I do prefer visiting my local town farmer’s market, which is just minutes from my house, with easy, no-hassle parking.
The Food Truck Rodeo, however, was an experience I would definitely want to have again. After being cooped up all winter, and bundled up from the cold, it was nice to be outside, enjoying the weather and the sights and sounds of summer. With such a wide assortment of food to choose from, there is something for everyone. I would recommend that you come prepared with a table and chairs, as picnic table seating is very limited. Most people seemed to have found a spot to camp out for the evening. The atmosphere was fun and festive, filled with friends, families and favorite foods.
Yes, I would recommend the Food Truck Rodeo at the Rochester Public Market, for a fun night to relax, enjoy live music and partake in local food truck fare. With no admission fee and a good chance of parking for free, it is a fun time at a good value. Pick your food truck vendor carefully, though, as the quality and value fluctuates greatly from truck to truck. Oh, a bring a chair and your own sealed bottle of water, too.
Shown below is the schedule of Food Truck Rodeos at the Rochester, NY Public Market for the balance of the 2015 season:
- Wednesday, June 24 – Music by Creek’s Edge (Acoustic duo performing Americana, Classic Roots, Folk).
- Wednesday, July 29 – Music by The Tommy Brunett Band (A craftsman and songsmith mixing old-school country, great story telling and rock and roll).
- Wednesday, August 26 – Music by Significant Other (Originals and adapted covers).
- Wednesday, September 30 – Music by Donnibrooke (Country, rock, and everything in between).
- Wednesday, October 28 – Music by Genesee Valley Band
About the Rochester Public Market
Rochester, NY’s city-run Public Market has served the community at its 280 N. Union Street site since 1905. Vendors offer fresh produce, ethnic delicacies, specialty items, general merchandise, and more, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 52 weeks a year. In addition, a variety of local businesses (cafes, food stands, coffee shops, florists, specialty food purveyors, breweries, etc), can be found on Market grounds and in the surrounding Market District.
It is also open on some other days and hours before and after holidays, and for special events, such as the Food Truck Rodeo. See the Special Events page
Market Matters is a monthly publication focused on Market products, vendors, special events, etc. Sign up to receive the newsletter on the Market Matters page.