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Mobile Cuisine

Boise's Food Truck Rally lures roving eaters


The Boise area hasn't just embraced the food truck trend, it's jumped on the running boards while waving a banner and screaming like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

And as the community has taken hold of the idea of getting quality, gourmet food from something with wheels, more entrepreneurs with a strong dose of culinary daring have stepped up, offering diners more options to explore.

But rather than leaving patrons to wander the streets like roving bands of feral children in search of some spicy Korean tacos or a pulled pork sliders, the trucks have banded together--sort of like a biker gang but with way, way better catering and state-required health inspections.

The monthly Boise Food Truck Rally--the second Friday of every month--is a mini version of what can be found daily in some larger cities but done on a Boise scale. Since it started in September 2011, participation has steadily grown, both among the food trucks and anxious eaters. The event reached an initial critical mass in March 2012, when so many people turned out that lines stretched into oblivion and trucks ran out of food.

Organizers used the experience as a lesson and made adjustments to keep things flowing in the future.

"It helped us get on a really steep learning curve," said Sheila Francis, director of marketing and events at Payette Brewing Company.

The initial idea for the rally came together after Archie's Place food truck invited several other trucks to its launch party in the summer of 2011.

"After that, we thought, 'Why can't we continue this?'" Francis said.

Now a core group of six food trucks is joined monthly by whomever else can make the event, which rotates to different areas of Boise in an effort to reach more people. And the people have responded to their efforts, turning a curiosity into a monthly see-and-be-seen, must-attend event.

"Some people have seen food trucks before, and others are just curious," Francis said. "They're looking for that bigger-city thing that has that culture."

That culture is an all-encompassing one, with the core group of 25- to 35-year-olds joined by teens, seniors and a whole lot of families, all on the lookout for food offerings they can't find elsewhere in the area.

While Payette Brewing is always on hand to keep the beer flowing, it's also regularly joined by the likes of B29 Streatery, Archies Place, Brown Shuga Soul Food, Rice Works, Asian Boy BBQ, Calle 75 Street Tacos, A Cupcake Paradise, Boise Fry Company and Stuck in Your Grill.

Even with all the hype, Francis said many first-timers are still surprised by what they find.

"They're not the roach coaches they've found before," she said.