A Welcome Truck Yard in a Food-truck Wasteland

With his East Dallas Truck Yard, Jason Boso helps Dallas finally do food trucks right.

With your backside sinking into the crosshatched nylon of a well-loved lawn chair, a cold beer in your fist and perhaps a few crumpled napkins piled into a grease-stained paper tray at your feet, it might be hard to imagine Dallas was ever hard on food trucks. Jason Boso's Truck Yard, which opened in September, seems like a gravel-paved food-truck utopia, but there was a time when serving up kimchi fries from a mobile kitchen required as much legal acumen as it did culinary dexterity and driving skills.

For decades, the term "food truck" described a mobile apparatus that tossed sandwiches out the window at construction sites around the city for 30 minutes at a time. The rules for these food trucks worked fine for years, but when trucks with larger aspirations hit the Dallas streets, propelled by the success of similar operations in Austin, Portland, L.A. and beyond, they hit enough regulatory potholes to bend a few rims.

Catherine Downes
Catherine Downes

Location Info

Map

Truck Yard

5624 Sears St.
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Restaurant > Bar Food

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Details

Truck Yard

5624 Sears St., 469-500-0139, texastruckyard.com. 11 a.m.-midnight daily. $

The new food trucks needed foot traffic to thrive, but they couldn't park in prime locations like the Arts District. When they did find a spot, they could only stay put for an hour, and asphalt that was deemed legitimate one day was illegal the next. Or was it? The confusion was often cleared up through an operator's ability to secure expensive temporary permits. Trucks had to adhere to strict guidelines for their kitchen designs and ingredients like fish and seafood were banned. The rules limited revenue, which limited more trucks and the ability of owners to get creative.

Dallas remains heavily regulated compared to other major cities, but some progress has been made over the past few years. Kitchen and ingredient restrictions have been relaxed, and while the growth is small, the number of trucks operating in the area has increased. Klyde Warren Park and the Arts District are now regular gathering places for food trucks and their fans. And now the Truck Yard has given customers the incentive to hang out and graze at multiple trucks for hours, a place to take a load off, survey the food options and suck down copious amounts of beer.

"We make the majority of our money off the beer," Boso says of his restaurant, beer garden, truck lot and sandwich shop, all situated in a fantasy junkyard kingdom off Greenville Avenue. After Trader Joe's pushed him out of his first choice for a location, Boso signed a lease for a crumbling radiator shop across the street, complete with an overgrown lot filled with weeds and rusting metal. Even his new landlord said Boso was crazy to try to convert the space to a restaurant. But now the weeds are gone and junk serves as the backdrop for one of the busiest outdoor bars in East Dallas.

Old tires turned into planters join old tires stacked into outdoor walls and old tires outfitted with miniature light-bulb-filled soda bottles hanging from the rafters like deranged light fixtures. The fences are lined with hubcaps, and beds of old pickups have been converted to outdoors seating booths. United by a common patina of grit and rust, the Truck Yard conjures a sort of hipster Sanford and Son, and it's appealing to everyone.

Come early on a Saturday and it's a family affair, but despite the strollers it manages to avoid the madness of a Pixie Stix-fueled romper room. Maybe it's the youthful drinkers folded into the mix, or maybe it's the bikers dressed in full leather and enjoying the fall weather just a bit more than you. There's a set of helmet-haired grannies looking at garden plans while smoking cigarettes, and there are puppies everywhere, nibbling at leftovers and drinking from big plastic buckets of water, assuring you that yes, it is very good to be a dog.

It's good to be a human here, too. Where else can you hang out in a treehouse and drink bottled cocktails till you nearly fall out of said tree? The elevated bar feels like a giant front porch in the sky, and a staircase lets those of us who are built out of doughnuts still enjoy the view — no rope ladder or secret password required.

The food truck owners aren't complaining, either. Caroline Perini and her partner, Miley Homes, sell golf-ball-sized hamburgers from a sky-blue food truck called Easy Slider. Perini loves Boso's scheduling system, which lets her plan visits weeks in advance, and she appreciates that trash services and electricity are included in the modest fee she pays to park. She gets access to hundreds of customers who have their hunger amplified by alcohol, and she never has to compete with more than two trucks on the lot.

That the Truck Yard only hosts three trucks at a time might disappoint some, but if you come expecting an Austin-esque sprawl of tires and takeout windows you're missing the point. Austin's lots are clogged with trucks, but they break up the flow of people. The space behind the Truck Yard is filled with people and they unite and energize it. It's a lot more fun to hang out here.

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6 comments
looptwelve
looptwelve

"I'm from uptown and when I heard about it, I thought it sounded kinda weird" ... no, please, stay in uptown. Just go eat at sfuzzi and pass out in your trust fund circle jerk.

sack11man
sack11man

The TruckYard is a cool idea, but I hear when GrubPirate is ready, food truck parks are going to be a thing of the past.

thrux
thrux

Its not all that bad, but I kind felt the vibe was what if corporate big whigs at Friday's or Applebees decided to open an Austin themed restaurant. I guess the Dallas shows through

Ahoy
Ahoy

"The rules limited revenue..."

What's the point of that?

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

As the author wrote, the quality of the food trucks can be lacking compared to Portland or Austin, but unlike truck parks in those cities there is a full bar, tvs, and ample seating so you're not stuck sitting on a curb to eat.

It's a cool concept and a fun scene. I thought the cheesesteak was good and will definitely return.

 
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