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Saturday, June 3, 2023
Chris Spear cooks in his food truck. [Bryan Mordt]

Meals on wheels: Food trucks cater to every taste in Maricopa


Fine dining and Maricopa are not necessarily synonymous. Yet.

While the public clamors for casual sit-down restaurants — the lack of them being among the city’s growing pains — there is a rapidly growing food-service industry delivering quality eats in nearly every culinary genre.

In recent years, food trucks have gained widespread popularity, providing a unique dining experience and unconventional menu items. From iced coffee to snow cones, from fresh donuts to lobster mac and cheese, food trucks offer a variety of local and international foods.

Italian food? Check.

Sushi? Got it.

Barbecue? You better believe it.

Thai and Korean? Indeed.

If it isn’t yet in a Maricopa restaurant, you’ll likely find it in a truck on Food Truck Friday or at the next big fundraiser or festival at Copper Sky.

With so many specialties to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one to visit first.
Here are a few options we’ve compiled:


Roots Eatery: The culinary Mafia Pop-Up Kitchen 


Monsoon Coffee


Coast 2 Coast BBQ 


Asian Seoul


Food trucks are cool, but who regulates them?

Brick-and-mortar restaurants are held to a high standard by county inspectors.

But what about food trucks?

Mama Bear’s Mini Kitchen [Bryan Mordt]

In Pinal County, regulations for food trucks are set by the Environmental Health Services division to ensure the safety and health of the public.To get up and running, food-truck owners in Pinal County must first obtain a food-service permit, which allows it to operate within the county. The permit must always be displayed in a visible location.

In some instances, food-truck operators utilize a commissary, or an established commercial kitchen, where they store or prepare their food before selling it from the truck. In these cases, operators are required to get a permit for the commissary, as well.

Each year, the food truck must pass a health inspection by the county and at least one more inspection at random, which includes a review of the food preparation and storage area, the water supply and disposal system, and the overall cleanliness of the truck.

Food-truck operators also must comply with specific regulations regarding food storage and preparation. All food must be stored at appropriate temperatures to prevent spoilage and contamination. This includes raw and cooked foods, as well as ingredients used in food preparation.

Poor Sam’s Italian Beef [Bryan Mordt]

All food preparation must also be done in accordance with established food-safety guidelines, such as hand-washing and proper sanitation of surfaces.The regulations for food trucks in Pinal County are designed to protect the health and safety of the public, while also allowing food-truck operators to run their businesses successfully, according to the Pinal County Health Department website.

Businesses vs. food trucks: Is all competition healthy?

Although food trucks have the advantage of being mobile, it doesn’t mean that they can park anywhere and serve.

What would happen if a taco truck parked 300 feet in front of Taco Bell? It would lead to some rivalry, that’s for sure.

The state of Arizona allows food trucks to park in any public place for up to two hours at a time, before relocating.

Sean FitzPatrick wrapping ribs for the final cook. [Bryan Mordt]
But when scoping out a parking spot on private property, food-truck owners must get permission from whoever owns the land — not the store manager, not the business employees.The landowners have complete jurisdiction over their space, deciding who and what can operate in their lots.“If there’s already a food business in that plaza, they’re paying rent,” Asian Seoul owner Charlotte Stessel said. “So why would they want us to park there for free?”Courtny Tyler owns a State Farm agency at 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road. When Stessel inquired about parking in the plaza’s lot, Tyler granted permission.So, when a taco truck pulled up next to Asian Seoul, the decision was up to Tyler, who ultimately denied the second truck permission.“The parking is already limited in that plaza,” Stessel said. “So, she chooses wisely.”Monsoon Coffee is also situated on Smith-Enke Road, but the two food trucks don’t seem to have an issue.Monsoon Coffee usually takes the morning shift, serving caffeinated beverages to the early-risers. While Asian Seoul opens in the afternoon, plating lunch and dinner specials.If the landowner changes their mind at any time and chooses to revoke parking permission, the food truck owners must relocate.These regulations are put into place to protect businesses from squatting trucks that would take up parking space or block the store front and to protect the public from improperly built trucks.

So, if there’s ever a taco truck parked 300 feet in front of a Taco Bell, they are likely in cahoots.