Birmingham’s food truck scene shows no signs of slowing down. We’ve found a handful of new roaming kitchens with fun concepts: a British-themed food truck with an original 1968 British double-decker-bus-turned-dining-space in tow, a farm-to-table-style hot dog food truck, and Birmingham’s first all-vegan food truck. Plus, each of these food trucks is fueled by owners who exude excitement and passion for their new ventures. Here’s the skinny on the Magic City’s new food trucks.
The Noble Dog
JR Jacobson’s culinary career began in his teenage years in kitchens along the Gulf Coast, then in eateries at Auburn while he was in school getting his bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. “After a few years in the corporate world, I ditched my suit and tie and boarded a National Geographic expedition cruise ship as a chef traveling from Alaska to Costa Rica and everywhere in between, sourcing local ingredients along the way at each port we docked,” says JR. “After a year of adventure, I returned to Birmingham to lay roots in this amazing emerging culinary scene.”
After stints at Metro Prime, Little Savannah, Continental Bakery and Chez Lulu, JR took a break to be more present at home with his wife and newborn son. But it wasn’t long until the kitchen started calling his name again. This time, though, he and his wife, Taylor Clark Jacobson, wanted to do something different. So they chose hot dogs.
“Hot dogs are one of life’s most simple pleasures,” says JR. “They are grounded in some of life’s most treasured moments — at ballparks, around campfires, with friends and family. It’s about extending that nostalgia into adulthood.”
But they are not your average hot dog cart — The Noble Dog takes the humble dog to the next level. “The Noble Dog is a hot dog cart and catering company, offering a simple, yet refreshing take on hot dogs as a showcase of Alabama’s garden-grown, farm-raised and handcrafted ingredients,” JR says.
You can choose from three dogs: a grass-fed all-beef hot dog or a pasture-raised pork Kielbasa, both sourced and produced at Sylacauga-based Marble City Meats, or the Alabama sweet potato veggie dog, handcrafted in-house. Each dog is nested in an artisan bun from Hinkel Bakery and accompanied by handcrafted pickles and sauces. JR anticipates that the all-beef Backyard Dog will be a crowd favorite. It comes with white cheddar onion spread, is topped with lentil chili, Noble sauce, purple cabbage and carrot slaw, and jalapeños.
“I love how happy our dogs make people. My passion, vision and drive as a chef have been rooted in the joy I create bringing people together through food,” says JR. “Food can repair your soul. It’s pretty cool that even a hot dog can do that.”
Mustard Seed Food Co.
Alicia Griffith worked at a bank before launching Mustard Seed Food Co., Birmingham’s first and only all-vegan food truck. “I’ve always had a creative side and enjoyed cooking,” says Alicia of the drastic career change. “I know this will sound crazy to some, but God told me to quit my job and buy a food truck. Not to make tons of money, but to be out in the community daily and giving back.” And Alicia puts her money where her mouth is — she not only serves her handmade black bean burgers to her food truck customers, she also takes 60 of them, along with delicious sides, to a local shelter once a week.
“All my burgers have the same amount of protein as a beef patty but none of the cholesterol and half the calories,” says Alicia. Other popular dishes are the “Hot Mess Fries” topped with shredded lettuce, BBQ mushrooms, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo or Alicia’s Brussels Sprouts with her original “awesome sauce.” The Mustard Seed Food Co. food truck, nicknamed Isaiah Marcus and powered by generator Bertha, not only gives back to the community, the venture has given Alicia more quality time with her family. She says with a smile, “I get to see my kids in the afternoon, and we can play outside before it gets dark.”
Little London Kitchen
Londoner Bea Morrisette and Birmingham, AL, native Matthew Morrisette co-own the Little London Kitchen food truck, which serves up authentic British bites for guests to enjoy in their accompanying British double-decker red bus dubbed “The Duchess.”
Bea was looking for an ongoing way to fund her non-profit passions when she learned about a similar bus concept across the pond. So, she and Matthew, who both also have past experience working in kitchens, decided to bring the best of British cuisine to Birmingham. For the past two years, they’ve been planning the menu and attempting to find the bus of their dreams. They finally found The Duchess in Colorado. The 1968 Leyland Titan PD originally rolled around the coastal towns of England before being shipped to Canada, then “hopping” a train to Colorado. Bea and Matthew drove her the 1,600-mile journey from Colorado at her max speed, 40 miles an hour. Once home, the duo refurbished the interior, complete with tables for their guests.
The delightful bus is rivaled only by the tasty eats. Everything is scratch-made daily and with the freshest ingredients. All the veggies are organically grown and supplied by their neighboring farmer, Darryl. The menu is mostly British comfort foods like fish ‘n’ chips, meat or veggie pies, shepherd’s pie and a featured sandwich, which right now is the “Duchess Double Decker.”
Bea describes this jaw-dropping sandwich. (Quick primer: “Toastie” is British for grilled cheese sandwich.) “The Duchess Double Decker is essentially two toasties sandwiching our home-roasted beef, caramelized onions, horseradish cream, any of our side salads added in there and topped with a crispy cheddar crown,” says Bea. “The crown is basically a complete covering top layer of that almost-burnt cheese that so many of us love when we make toasties.”
If your mouth isn’t watering yet, there’s more. The current crowd favorites are the puff pastry pocket pies (including a vegan option), the creamy chicken thyme pie, a stewed beef pie, Cumberland sausage rolls, and of course, fish ‘n’ chips as well as specials inspired by London’s international street food scene. “We will be featuring more exotic items as specials that we hope people will be brave enough to try,” says Bea. “Our first special will be a Malaysian/Thai massaman coconut curry that will have a vegan-friendly option as we add grilled curried chicken separately for the meat lovers. We will also be adding a black pudding or blood sausage sandwich for the really brave!”
Little London Kitchen and The Duchess are also available to cater events and can even stage a proper British Afternoon Tea!
Now celebrate summer in the sun (or on The Duchess) at one of these fabulous new Magic City food trucks!
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