December 21st, 2010

Zilla Street Eats: Last Resort Grub, First Resort Taste

In 6 Words: Neon, gourmet, chicken, carbs, epic, Godzilla

We’ve all been there. You wait for someone, perhaps a buddy, co-worker or significant other, to get out of work, class or the S&M dungeon for what seems like an eternity in order to grab a bit of sustenance with some company before hitting the streets. Unbeknownst to you, however, they “ate a late lunch” or “grabbed a burger” on the way over, so you’re the one stuck silently panicking over where the next meal will come from. You don’t want to slow the evening’s progress by whining about your stomach, which, by this time, is snarling like a rabid skunk with his foot stuck in a garage door. Grubbing hard core is definitely on your short to-do list though. You may be asking how a rabid skunk gets its foot stuck in a garage door. I really don’t have a follow up for that.

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Anyway, Stephen seems to be the resident expert street foodster, but if something grabs me fancy just right, I’ve been known to dabble in multiple fields. I hope he approves, because that’s exactly what happened during my latest, Coffee Porter-fueled, corn hole extravaganza at Liberty Station. By the time I hop out of the car, I’m famished to the point of considering cannibalism and severe hyperbole. Thankfully, there’s this yellow food truck nearby. I originally assume its paint job (which I later learn is just a sticky-wrap designed by Houston animator Kris Pierce) is some sort of terrifying, famine-induced hallucination, but guess what? It wasn’t! The giant, fire-breathing chicken on the side, stomping through downtown Houston, fending off jets and such, proved to be quite harmless. Paul still found me quivering and muttering nonsense, all 57 of my ribs showing at this point, a ghost of my former self. He managed to coax me from my hiding spot under the women’s bathroom sink with a crust of bread and some warm milk. After being convinced of the benevolence of the truck parked outside, I approached timidly, with the hope of quelling the ache in my gut.

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Most of the menu at the Zilla Street Eats truck reads like a visit to a backwoods, Appalachian county fair, except this time you didn’t blow all your tickets playing that game at Uncle Josiah’s booth where he glued all the milk bottles to the plywood so you can’t knock them over. A grilled cheese involving Spam, macaroni & cheese topped with pulled pork, and the Dirty Burger and fries are all staples. The items scribbled out on a small dry-erase board are economical to say the least, with most running no more than four bucks. The choices sound rudimentary—typical for a food truck- but beggars couldn’t be choosers when just five minutes prior they were considering a meal of sand from a dirty sock. Wasting away, I meekly placed my order of a corn dog, the m&c with pulled pork and fried Nutter Butters all around. Astonishingly and conveniently, Zilla takes plastics, so I didn’t have to go through my usual food truck/ Hubcap routine of forcing my friends with cash to pay for me. Paul and Richard then helped me to a table, started an i.v. and made sure I was comfortable. This was where I was to make my last stand, like Colonel James Bowie, staving off wave after wave of hunger pangs.

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To put in perspective how downright delicious my meal was when it came out piping hot five minutes later—I would have gladly quaffed down seconds of Zilla immediately after the biggest holiday dinner I’ve ever taken down. That’s not to speak ill of their portion sizes, which were perfect, but more to plug just how gooey and savory the macaroni was and how the tangy pulled pork made it pop just right. The corn dog was epic (and crispy) and elicited a number of crude jokes—the real measure of value with any cylindrical food item. Fried Nutter Butters, dusted in powdered sugar and served with a side of maple syrup, were just as good as they sound to any fellow George Washington Carver groupie. Other items that made appearances, including the Siracha Cheesesteak and a couple of baskets of home/truck-cut fries were veraciously inhaled, even by those not on their last leg.

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Owners/chefs/servers/dynamos Jason Kerr and Jared Hunter have set out to do something special with this psychedelic food journey on wheels. You can catch their act in Front of Liberty Station on Saturday and Tuesday nights and then again throughout the week at Jackson’s Watering Hole, Grand Prize, Little Woodrow’s in Midtown and the East Side Farmer’s Market. Make sure to catch up with this neon chicken on Twitter and Facebook, and in a pinch, feel free to resort to good old fashioned mouth talkin’ via (713) 254-6439.

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This Zilla is nothing to be afraid of.

— Tea Jones

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