Last Updated on February 19, 2020 by Jeremy
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We're always on the lookout for the best Pittsburgh food truck rallies, and we have to admit that our options for roundups of local food trucks are few and far between.
When they happen, they're often quite small. And when they're free, they often are too crowded or the trucks sell out of food in record time.
So it was with great excitement that we went out to the Monroeville Convention Center one Saturday in January in order to check out the annual Food Truck-a-Palooza event- the largest food truck rally we've been to yet!
Food Truck-a-Palooza Shines at the Monroeville Convention Center
Within moments of walking into the convention center, you can tell that this a monster food truck rally. With food trucks as far as you can see, live music, vendor tables, a mobile Lumberjaxes axe throwing lane, and more, there really was a lot going on here.
During our visit we (along with some friends) were able to sample food from several trucks including Emporio Meatballs, Revival Chili, Just Roll'd Up, La Palapa, Galaxy Donuts, and more. Other trucks that were present included favorites like Mac and Gold, La Palapa, Burgh Bites, and other new ones that we had never heard of before- a great balance for a festival if we have to say.
We followed a pretty typical process of getting food, enjoying it while listening to music, walking around the vendors, and repeating a few times, and ended up spending about 90 minutes here in total while sampling 2-3 trucks each. As far as food truck rallies are concerned, it felt like we did this one well but still only ended up sampling a small percentage of the trucks all the same.
After this, there are some few oddities about the event overall worth noting.
A Few Oddities Worth Noting
During our visit, there were a few things that stuck out to us that are worth noting. The entry fee is one of them (which we'll talk about more later), but also the fact that the festival is indoors and had some unusual theming in 2020.
The indoor aspect of the event is an odd one as most facilities do not allow trucks inside for exhaust concerns. With roughly two dozen trucks on-site in the admittedly small space at the Monroeville Convention Center, there was a visible haze in the building when we arrived. Was it from the trucks? The cooking? Both? We'll never know, but it is is a bit unusual to see all the same considering the (admittedly rightful) concern over trucks operating indoors at other facilities.
The other unusual aspect was that this festival was originally themed as “Around the World in 30 Trucks” but only featured about two dozen trucks during the event itself. On-site marketing seemed to scrub the “in 30 Trucks” theme altogether which was a bit of a bummer. (That being said, as we have no capacity to eat 30 trucks anyway, so it is hard to be upset by this.)
We only note it here as the event from the year before had significantly more trucks according to the online line-up, so it may be best to review this prior to purchasing your ticket.
What About the Entry Fee?
Now, Food Truck-a-Palooza is a bit different from other food truck rallies we've been to in that it is a ticketed event. It may sound weird to pay for a ticket to be able to go purchase food, but in this particular scenario we are quite okay with it for a few reasons.
First, ticketed events like this help with the crowds. We've been to a number of food truck rallies where the lines were prohibitively long (think upwards of 60 minutes) and others where popular trucks ran out of food within the first hour. Neither of these things would be worth it for a five hour food truck festival, and the entry fee most certainly helped manage the crowds during the event.
In fact, apart from one fluke moment at a barbecue truck and a few of the dessert vendors, we were able to walk up to just about every truck we wanted to try towards the end of the event, and only a few items were sold out overall.
I'll take a $12 ticket price if it means I can skip waiting in line and get my choice of food towards the end of an event.
Second, a portion of the proceeds from this event goes to charity (at least, insofar as we are aware). It is hard to say no to that!
Overall, the Food Truck-a-Palooza event at the Monroeville Convention Center is a fun food truck rally that occurs every January. While we are attracted to large food truck rallies with a good number of trucks (if only because we love sampling as many new ones in one go as we can), we have to admit that it is also physically impossible to eat at them all at the same time.
So if you are deciding whether it is worth it to pay for a ticket to attend this one, you would do well to review the truck list and determine just how many trucks you would want to try during a visit. Only then could you really determine if the fee is worth it to you or not, and it is exactly what we'll be doing in future years before attending this one!
Food Truck-a-Palooza occurs at the Monroeville Convention Center every January.