On Tuesdays in North Domingo Baca Park, around the time the sun sets across the high desert, local food trucks owners ignite their ovens and grills, ready their ingredients and prepare the register for an evening filled with eager customers looking for good eats.
“Foody Tuesdays,” the name for the weekly recurring event in Albuquerque, brings in several local food trucks and a colorful farmers market to provide a pandemic-friendly way to enjoy some phenomenal dishes.
Though the food trucks and market take up less than a block in the parking lot, there is an abundance of variety at “Foody Tuesdays,” from refreshing beverages and desserts that make you hold on to those last glimmers of summer to internationally palatable foods, decadent meats and feel-good vegetables and fruits.
One popular vendor started by chef Michael Mondragon two years ago, Mighty Mike’s Meats, offers high quality barbecue well worth the price it asks for. Mondragon’s craftsmanship can not only be tasted through the barbecue’s sensational savor and consistency, but in fine-tuned details like the sweet, golden toasted bun that hugs the shredded pork, or the crisp, deep brown edges along a tender brisket.
Unlike other barbecue places whose sauces may overshadow the meats, Mondragon’s meat takes center stage as it expels its own rich aroma and demanding flavors. The pulled pork sandwich was a masterful orchestra as the explosive juices of a crunchy pickle harmonized with the inviting chew of the perfectly moist pork.
The brisket, which Mondragon told me was his proudest dish, was dynamic — unleashing a different note of barbecued goodness with every bite, tear and swallow. The brisket, whose proper curation is made obvious by its cathartic tenderness, is beautifully balanced with its tantalizing smokiness and the meat’s own smooth and savory juices.
A few yards down is Tikka Spice, owned by Basit Guaba, a local food truck whose Pakistani and American-infused cooking culminates into some gourmet street food. Tikka Spice adds new tints and shades to New Mexican classics with foods like their chicken tikka tacos, while also creating exciting culinary ventures like with their curry bowls and samosas.
The original curry bowl — served with either chicken tikka or paneer — is an incredibly holistic, well-rounded dish. One generous spoonful will offer the comforting, warm spices of the curry as it permeates the chicken and fulfilling basmati rice, and another bite will have the refreshing acidity of the desi salad, set with carrots, cucumber, cabbage and kachumber and showered in a garlic cream sauce.
Tikka Spice is also known for their lassis — a type of smoothie made with yogurt, fruit and other spices. While the pumpkin spice latte is an ineradicable seasonal classic, Tikka Spice’s own pumpkin spice lassi makes for a more unique and dimensional taste for autumn. The yogurt’s presence in the smoothie was unexpected to say the least, but after a few adjusting sips, the sourness grew on me as it added a unique layer to the sweet frothiness. Simply put, it tasted like liquid pumpkin pie — and a really good pumpkin pie at that.
“Foody Tuesdays” is, fortunately, also well equipped with sweet goods like Wow Wow’s Lemonade Stand. Luckily, as of right now, the season in Albuquerque is temperate enough to accommodate the timeless summer indulgence: lemonade.
Far from your neighbor’s kid’s lemonade stand, Wow Wow’s Lemonade Stand brings a healthy and whimsical sweetness to the event. Michael Guitierrez, owner of the Albuquerque franchise, is about to open a storefront. Guitierrez made me his favorite drink, Lava Flow, which had pressed and blended pineapples and coconut with strawberries. The lemonade’s fresh ingredients harkened thoughts of summer and strawberry fields, and jubilantly pranced between sweet and tart. Wow Wow’s galactic selections of lemonade will undoubtedly make a great companion to any number of entries at the park.
“Foody Tuesdays” is the place to go for the ultimate food high. It provides an insatiably appetizing environment, as the fragrances and palates from the various vendors collide and fuse with each other. The vendors’ respective passions for their craft are entwined within each plate they serve, ultimately deepening my respect and enjoyment of the food as a whole.
It was an honor trying Mondragon’s brisket after he had spent years improving it to where it is now and to taste the food for which Guaba immigrated to make and bring here. The vendors and the cooks, the customers and their families and even the costumed stilt walker at the park all created a wholesome atmosphere for the community. To me, the best part of “Foody Tuesdays” is just seeing people enjoy themselves over some good, good food.
Gabriel Biadora is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at Twitter @gabrielbiadora