It starts with a thick, hand-shaped patty. Add to that a half-inch slab of pastrami. Then, a blanket of oozy-melty Swiss cheese that is so thick it starts running down the sides, covering up the double layer of meat. A generous layer of caramelized onions adds a pleasant sweetness, purr-fectly counterbalanced by a final topping of Dijon mustard.
One finicky little quibble: The Fat Cat is the equivalent of two normal-size burgers, and the integrity of the bun is compromised by the sheer weight of goodies. If there has ever been the need for an industrial strength bun, this is the sandwich, which comes with a generous side of chips. Fortunately, the bun issue is nowhere close to cat-astrophic.
WHAT: McNasty's Mobile Food Truck
A wickedly sultry sandwich
If there’s a sandwich in Dayton that knows how to strut its stuff, it’s The Lady Marmalade.
It’s bewitching and sinfully voluptuous, and between two pieces of toasted buttery bread is sliced turkey breast with almonds, covered with a freckling of cilantro flakes.
But what makes it extra sultry is the flirtation of sweetness – a layer of orange marmalade.
You’ll find this incantation of a sandwich at The Wicked ‘Wich of Dayton’s food truck. It’s definitely an adult taste to tantalize the taste buds. Itchi gitcha ya ya da da!
WHAT: Wicked 'Wich of Dayton food truck
INFO: www.thewickedwichofdayton.com or 937-903-1476
Biting into the Big Kahuna
The made-up name of a fast-food restaurant chain in several of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, The Big Kahuna Burger is also the inspiration of the name of Shantz Express’ premium sandwich — but there’s nothing fictional about this burger.
“It’s one-third pound Angus beef, Swiss cheese, sautéed onions and peppers, pineapple, homemade cole slaw and our Shantz sauce,” said food truck owner Bill Shancey.
With a more-than-generous amount of the mayo-based Shantz sauce, ask for extra napkins.
WHAT: Shantz Express
INFO: A weekly schedule is posted on the food truck's Facebook page. You may also call 937-321-9950.
A pretzel as big as your head
The twisted baked-treat trend exploded several years back, and it’s not going anywhere. One food truck that’s taking advantage of the craze is Bighorn Pretzel Co.
The Yellow Springs-based mobile restaurant is vastly popular, so go early before they run out and be prepared for a long wait. I loved the Buffalo Chicken Sliders on pretzel buns, topped with baby gherkin pickles.
I also tried the Cinnamon & Sugar Soft Pretzel. The largest pretzel I’ve ever seen, it was warm and soft, and with icing, a pure work of gastronomical art.
WHAT: Bighorn Pretzel Co.
INFO: www.bighornpretzels.co, Facebook page or 303-906-2076
A mountain of garlic chicken
Like its culture, Puerto Rico’s cuisine is a combination of many cultural influences – indigenous Taino, Spanish, British, Dutch, French, Italian, Chinese and United States.
Combos are good, especially the No. 1 at Antojitos Criollos Food Truck. It comes with your choice of fried pork chunk, chicken kebobs or chicken in garlic sauce, with two sides. I chose the chicken in garlic sauce and had Spanish rice and sweet plantains as my sides.
Portions are huge – definitely a value at $7. Plus, the sweet plantains are to die for.
WHAT: Antojitos Criollos Food Truck
INFO: email@example.com or 937-527-4420.
Wings too good to share
I had every intention of sharing the wings from Courtland’s Mobile Grill with a colleague back at the office. That didn’t happen.
Before I knew it, I had eaten all three extra-crispy wings — the realization that they were all gone was like the bittersweetness of reading the last sentence of a really great novel.
So I went through each wing joint again, relishing every remaining particle of chicken and deep-fried batter. Still longing for more, I had to console myself with the side of spiced fries. It was the best $5.50 I’ve spent in a long time.
WHAT: Courtland's Mobile Grill
INFO: Courtland's Facebook page or 937-510-0832
Maniac sauce makes the wrap
I’m a sucker for Caribbean jerk, a cooking style native to Jamaica.
The meat is rubbed with a mixture of spices, usually containing Scotch bonnet peppers, which are among the fieriest chili peppers on the planet. Other spices, such as allspice, cinnamon, garlic and cloves, are added.
If you like this style, check out Just Jerks: Ena’s Jamaican Grill.
Choose a wrap, rice bowl or sliders. I went with the wrap. It comes with mozzarella, cabbage and a delightful concoction called “Maniac Sauce,” which takes this street food to the next level.
Shredded cabbage adds a wonderful crunchy texture to the spicy-and-chewy ingredients.
WHAT: Just Jerks: Ena's Jamaican Grill
Info: Just Jerks' Facebook page