Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones
KEEP ON (FOOD) TRUCKIN’: If you’ve only been in Athens a few years and/or you are youthful enough to where time still seems to crawl rather than whoosh by, you may be frustrated with this town’s slowness in the food-truck arena. But, kids, things take time, and although we don’t have a scene one could exactly describe as “thriving” yet, it’s also moving in the right direction. Sometimes slow progress and no progress look like the same thing, but, in the end, they’re not.
The every-other-Wednesday-except-sometimes-not food-truck nights at the Jittery Joe’s Roaster on Barber Street have been maddeningly inconsistent. That’s OK. At any rate, with the weather cooling off, they seem to be starting up again—or at least that was the plan as most recently expressed.
There are other venues. Terrapin usually has one or two; ditto for Southern Brewing Co. City Hall hosts Holy Crepe on a regular basis (one of the few trucks that’s excellent about posting its upcoming times and locations), the Athens Farmers Market has Farm Cart for breakfast and dinner on the reg, and if there’s any kind of outdoor event, you can almost guarantee there will be a truck on hand. This may not seem like much, but it’s a big step in the right direction when compared to five years ago.
On a recent night at the Roaster, with Holy Crepe, Taqueria 1785, Your Pie’s mobile pizza oven, Kona Ice and Da Munchiezz all peddling their wares accompanied by live music, one could kind of see the future. Da Munchiezz is one of the newer trucks around town, and it moves around a good bit, setting up at the Elberton 12-County Fair, at One Press Place, the Athens Black Market, etc. The red truck specializes in barbecue and Jamaican food, with a limited menu of both, plus hot dogs, burgers and fries. It doesn’t always have everything on the menu, but the smoker is part of the setup, evidence that the ’cue doesn’t come from a Crock-Pot.
If you’re the first customer of the night, things may take a little while to get going, but the results are worth the wait. Jerk chicken is often much too dry, too wet or over-spiced. The version Da Munchiezz peddles doesn’t have any of those problems, with enough capsaicin to get your attention but not so much that you’re spoiled for eating anything else. The ribs are, likewise, surprisingly good, coming unsauced (right on) and pleasantly smoky. You can get rice and peas for a side, and although it contains the occasional pocket that’s excessively salty, for the most part it’s fluffy and savory and good.
Even the fries, zig-zagged with a sauce that seems to blend ketchup and honey mustard, meet with approval, and the hot dog borrows the smoke of the ’cue. Sometimes there are other choices, like mac and cheese or empanadas, but the stuff mentioned here all gets a thumbs up and would be plenty for a successful business. Your best bet to find the truck is to follow it on Instagram: @damunchiezz. Credit cards are accepted.
The goal is to add some savory options, but those haven’t been in evidence yet; right now your choices are original and chocolate, to be varied with the add-ons. The almost intimidatingly positive young folks who scoop and fold and cook and take your money also take the time to write a compliment on each paper sleeve, which is actually kind of sweet, even to a skeptic.
The waffles themselves are fairly worthy of attention, although there’s not a lot of waffle competition, especially in the pop-up arena. You can snap off each sphere of crisp-cooked batter, which, when eaten right away, is still warm and a bit soft in the middle, although not so hot as to be perilous. The combination with cold ice cream is totally pleasant, even if the flavors on offer aren’t exactly groundbreaking. Do you enjoy waffle cones? Well, this is a fancier version of that, plus a kind word to brighten your day.