Local food trucks diversify Dillo Day eating options

Devan Coggan and Hayley Glatter

Ten of Chicago’s food trucks will be at Dillo Day all day Saturday to keep festival attendees nourished.

The trucks, featuring a variety of cuisines, will be set up in the southern portion of the Lakefill, closer to Norris University Center, in what is being called Dillo Village, said Neil Mehta, Mayfest’s director of corporate relations. The 10 trucks are the most that have ever come to Dillo Day.

This is the third year food trucks have made an appearance at Dillo Day, and other food options include a Sodexo food stand and pizza provided by the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association. Mehta said having different dining options is a necessity.

“People are on the Lakefill all day, and we always want to make sure that on the Lakefill, there is plenty of food and drink for people because it’s a long day,” the McCormick senior said. “Having plenty of options is a key priority for us and for the administration.”

The food trucks will stay on the Lakefill for the entirety of Dillo Day but may stop serving once demand subsides and the sun go down, Mehta said.

Here’s what Dillo Day attendees can snack on between sets:

Taquero Fusion

Old family secrets and flavors from across Latin America have proven to be the recipe for success for Taquero Fusion.

The south-of-the-border truck is owned and operated by one family, co-owner Marisol Ramirez said. Initially founded to put family members who were out of a job back to work, Taquero Fusion became one of Chicago’s first taco food trucks, Ramirez said. Working with family has colored her experience in the food industry.

“(It’s) crazy most of the time,” Ramirez said. “It has its ups and downs. We have our laughs and cries, and at the same time, it definitely is a little bit more challenging to work with family rather than co-workers.”

Ramirez’s family is from Puerto Rico, and her husband is Mexican. Combining the cuisines to create a taco fusion made sense. In addition to tacos, the truck also serves up different varieties of nachos as well as chips and guacamole. But, despite the fact that Taquero Fusion sells their family recipes, don’t expect a copy of the ingredient list any time soon.

“My mother and aunt are very secretive about their family recipes and don’t like to go ahead and expose that,” Ramirez said. “We obviously have to kind of label everything … but we keep the seasonings a little bit secret.”

Bombay Wraps 

Chicago and Bollywood aren’t exactly neighbors, but when Bombay Wraps opened shop a little more than four years ago, the owners wanted to get Midwesterners excited about Indian food.

Bombay Wraps managing partner Ali Dewjee said putting authentic Indian food, perceived by many as “spicy, complicated, heavy and caloric,” in wrap form makes the dishes more accessible. Although many of his customers had never tried Indian food before the food truck hit the streets, Dewjee said many now eat it regularly.

“Indian food can be a little out there and have something mythical around it, so we said, ‘Let’s create a store and create an ambiance so people can experience it,’” Dewjee said. “It’s not ‘give me five dollars, I give you a wrap.’ It’s creating a brand.”

Part of that brand was creating an in-restaurant feeling infused with Indian culture. Bombay Wraps’ downtown storefront, 122 N. Wells St., plays Bollywood movies to give customers a more authentic experience, Dewjee said. Seeking to extend its reach, Dewjee said Bombay Wraps decided to open a food truck as the logical extension of the storefront.

Bombay Wraps is set to open its second store downtown, and Dewjee said the chicken tikka is the restaurant’s most popular item.

Beavers Coffee and Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts will have some competition Saturday when Beavers Coffee and Donuts shows up at the Lakefill with their made-to-order, freshly baked donuts and coffee.

In November 2011, after more than a decade in the hospitality industry, Beavers’ owner Gabriel Wiesen and his partner decided to launch the food truck because they saw it as a comparatively safe investment. Wiesen said food trucks require a lower upfront cost and offer increased versatility for a company.

Since then, Wiesen said he has seen the food truck market in Chicago emerge as a more vibrant community.

“It went from an industry where most of the vehicles were prep-packaged food trucks where the food was premade and packaged somewhere and then delivered by the truck,” Wiesen said. “Now, most of the trucks make their own food on board and serve it fresh.”

Saturday will not be Beavers’ first appearance on the Lakefill. The mobile bakery has offered their product at the festival in years past, too.

“I think this is actually our third year now at Dillo Day,” Wiesen said. “We love college students. It’s a big demographic within our business. And given that it’s, I think, the largest student-run festival in the country, there’s plenty of you guys, and we always do well.”

Windy City Patty Wagon

Windy City Patty Wagon owners Danny and Lou Herrera built their business from the ground up — literally.

“We bought a used delivery truck and stripped it all down and painted it and did all the metalwork ourselves, all the welding and everything,” Danny Herrera said.

That truck became the Windy City Patty Wagon, and the brothers have carried that passion to their gourmet burgers. From the classic cheeseburger to the turkey quinoa patty, every burger the truck sells is handmade.

“We make the patties ourself, which everyone will tell you makes a big difference,” Herrera said. “You know when a machine has made a burger versus handmade patties.”

Herrera himself is no stranger to the restaurant business, and he has a long history of working with Chicago staples like Rockit Bar & Grill and Carriage House. After several years working on the West Coast, where food trucks have long enjoyed popularity, he jumped at the chance to open a truck in Chicago.

“Once they passed the ordinance in September 2012, I was down there filling out my application,” he said.

Herrera said WCPW prides itself on its commitment to freshness and quality, whether that’s by sourcing its beef locally or growing herbs and vegetables on Herrera’s rooftop garden in the summer.

“I get in early in the morning,” he said. “My chef and I are there at the break of dawn making fresh burgers for the day. Some days if it’s busier, we do sell out, but I kind of go down that road purposely so that everything is fresher.”

Full list of Dillo Day 2014 food trucks:

  • Beavers Coffee and Donuts
  • Giordano’s
  • Taquero Fusion
  • Cheesie’s
  • Bombay Wraps
  • The Slide Ride
  • Chicago Cupcake
  • Windy City Patty Wagon
  • The Wagyu Wagon
  • Haute Sausage

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Twitter: @devancoggan

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @heyhay94