The Gathering Spot Bistrotruck
Various locations in San Diego, track the truck on Twitter; tgsbistrotruck.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: A tasty, gourmet take on a slider—but the real reason to visit is the sweet potato tots
Want Fries With That? Sure; truffle fries are tasty, but the sweet potato tots are epic
Price: Slidertini, $4; sweet potato tots, $3; truffle fries, $3.50; Churritos, $2.25
I probably should have written about at least one food truck by now, considering San Diego's food truck scene has reached critical mass during the time I've been covering the local burger scene for AHT. Once, spotting a food truck was like seeing an endangered animal in the wild, but now it seems every large outdoor event has a food truck contingent, not to mention the many food truck-centered events and festivals that have taken place over the past few months.
For my money, the best place to tuck into some food truck grub is at 57 Degrees' Third Friday festival, where over a dozen trucks offer a variety of food items, including everything from pierogies, to pizza, to various forms of barbecue, plus cupcakes and chocolate-covered bacon for dessert.
My initial intention was to write a profile of all the burger variants available at a recent installment, but honestly, there was only one worth mentioning: the slidertini from The Gathering Spot.
The slidertini was made from two ounces of Meyer's 100 percent Natural Angus certified humane beef, with a precise meat-to-fat ratio of 81:19. Patties are cooked on the griddle with a dash of "secret seasoning" and topped with bruschetta mix, sautéed white mushrooms and red onions finished in a red wine deglace, and a smear of housemade dill aioli. A toasted whole wheat mini burger bun from Bread and Cie (the choice of nearly all discriminating burger purveyors around town) and a cube of sharp cheddar cheese were the finishing touches.
Initially, the cube of cheddar confounded me. It was too firm to melt, so putting it on top of the patty wasn't really an option. After some debate, I settled on nibbling off a piece of cheese before taking a bite of the slider, which was awkward, but not too difficult. After a few bites, I chucked the cheese because the slider was so flavorful on its own that the cheddar was superflous.
Even though the beef was cooked to medium, it was still moist and full of juice, with a robust beefy flavor. The addition of sautéed mushrooms, sweet and tender diced tomatoes (in the bruschetta mix), and herbaceous dill aioli gave the slider complex and complimentary flavors.
Without question, the highlight of the meal was the sweet potato tots—light and crunchy potato nuggets that were crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. No amount of praise for these tots would be too much, so let's just say I wanted to eat them until I lost consciousness, and upon waking, immediately resume eating them. Given the widespread popularity of sweet potato fries, here's hoping that the tot form sweeps the nation. Until then, you can always make your own.
Thin and crisp shoestring fries tossed with truffle oil, salt, parmesan, and parsley were also tasty. The truffle oil on these particular spuds was more subtle than most, and ended up tasting like a background accent, not an in-your-face flavoring.
If you manage to save room for dessert, there's yet another delicious fried option: mini churros with vanilla whipped cream.
With all of these tasty sides to choose from, you'll be glad The Gathering Spot's burger is pint-sized.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a freelance food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best cheap and tasty eats in San Diego, including all things sweet and sugary, for her dessert blog San Diego Sugar