From 32 to four, voters narrowed the Ultimate Pittsburgh Food Truck bracket to the top picks of each category that are now vying for spots in the championship.
In addition to fame and bragging rights, the top truck will be awarded this amazing trophy.
So far, more than a thousand votes have been cast in the Final Four — and there’s still time to get your nod in. You have until 10 a.m. Monday to vote here. Then, come to our food truck roundup from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday to cast one final ballot.
Join The Incline to do super-important research on the trucks that make their way into the Final Four of the Ultimate Pittsburgh Food Truck and cast your vote in-person for the Top Two, as we host the Final Four food trucks. Tickets are limited and get you samplings of local wine, beer and spirits. Food is not included, but we encourage you to buy dinner from your favorite truck before you cast your Top Two vote.
Where: Nova Place plaza at 100 South Commons (Allegheny Center)
When: June 14, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
How much: $5
Until then, meet our finalists.
Comfort food champ Southside BBQ vs. Top tacos Las Chicas
People yell it at Costco or the gas station, wherever they see Pat or Mike Joyce: “Barrrrrrrr-baaaaaa-cone”
“We wanted an item for festivals that people could eat while holding a beer,” Pat, co-owner of the South Side BBQ truck said. So his brother and business partner, Mike, came up with the idea for the bar-b-cone: bbq you can eat while walking.
And the sing-song way the pair yells bar-b-cone?
“We don’t know how it started, I think it was because that first event was so loud that we had to yell it out and it stuck,” Pat said.
This year is the truck’s fourth in business after the brothers decided to partner for a food truck. At the time, Pat was running the 17th Street Cafe and ended up changing the business to South Side BBQ to match the truck.
He said they designed the art on their truck so “when someone walked into an event they say, I want to go to that truck.” There’s even a logo on the top for people looking out of their offices down to the street.
In restaurants, people can get stuffy, Pat said. “At the truck, people are always happy when you hand them a bar-b-cone.” And it’s become the truck’s signature item.
“It’s kinda scary how much people know us for it,” he said.
A taste of home
Customers ask: Where are you from? And Stephanie and Amanda Morales, owners of Las Chicas, answer: L.A.
The response is usually: “I knew it. The food tastes like home.”
It’s the top compliment for the mother-daughter duo, who started their truck in 2014. Stephanie was working at A.W. Beattie Career Center when a student told her that he wanted to open a food truck. Stephanie told her daughter Amanda and she responded with a point-blank, “Yeah, why don’t we do it?”
Both women had culinary experience, so they started working on the truck and decided on the name Las Chicas.
It means the chicks or the girls so that’s perfect, Stephanie said. “That’s what we are. A mom and a daughter.”
The pair keeps a limited menu and everything is run by Stephanie’s husband to make sure it’s how their family would have prepared it. Almost everything, except the cheese sauce and the tortillas, is homemade.
Stephanie said the best part is seeing people get excited and their reaction, especially when it reminds them of home.
Sandwiches n’at winner Hott Dawgz vs. Wild Card victor Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Truck
A gourmet classic
Two dogs take on the world with one driving a motorcycle and the other riding on back. The logo of Hott Dawgz is a caricature of co-owner Natalie Domachowski’s two dogs — Lexi in front and Cody in the back.
After deciding on a gourmet hot dog truck, Natalie and co-owner Randy Gatten picked the name Hott Dawgz to stand out and opened in October 2015.
“Everyone loves a hot dog,” Natalie said, adding that they use Nathan’s 1/4 pound hot dogs and BreadWorks buns to please even those who say they don’t like hot dogs.
The duo bought their truck from a family in New York. The previous owner used it as a BBQ food truck only a few times before he died of cancer, Natalie said. So to continue his legacy, they named a menu item after him: Al’s Way (BBQ pulled pork and cheddar cheese … on a hot dog).
Natalie said part of the fun of owning a food truck is being able to make a meal for other people.
“I love people and seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” she said.
Natalie’s recommendation: A surprise hit was the Courtney Way (bacon-wrapped hot dog with mac n cheese and bbq sauce on a pretzel bun) and she said she loves the Chicago dog (topped with pickle, relish, tomato, sport peppers, celery, salt and mustard on a poppy seed bun) for its colors and taste. (See above.)
Check out its menu, and find the truck: Facebook, Twitter or its calendar
Ice cream and ink
That’s what people order at employee appreciation events if the company is paying, said Kevin Heenan, co-owner of the Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Truck.
“I don’t know why,” he said. “It’s not the most expensive thing.”
When Kevin and his wife Lori decided to open a food truck, they were going to make German food, he said. But then they decided on ice cream instead. After all, Kevin’s family has owned Sugar and Spice in Baldwin for more than 30 years. They’re now in their third year with the truck, and they also have a Sugar and Spice Ice Cream Boat stocked with ice cream from the store.
“We carry 10 flavors on the truck,” Kevin said, adding that there’s always a few random flavors, too, like Twix or chocolate peanut butter, depending on what’s in the store.
Kevin renovated his truck himself to make it a kitchen on wheels. And the couple painted it black and teal to have an old-school, ’50s look.
The best part of having a food truck is the travel, he said. “You’re not be stuck in one place. You’re all over the city.”
It’s become such a big part of his life that Kevin plans to get a realistic picture of the truck tattooed to his left forearm. He already has the ice cream cone tattoos on his fingers to go with it.
Maybe next year, it will be the ice cream boat on the other arm, he said.
Kevin’s recommendation: His favorite dessert, and the most popular, is the hot fudge brownie sundae. But the turtle sundae is at the top, too.
Check out its menu, and find the truck: Facebook or Twitter