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PROVIDENCE — This weekend is PVDFest, the annual celebration with musicians performing in the streets, artists spreading their creations across building facades (and anywhere else their paintbrush is allowed), and parades marching through downtown. If you’re planning to head to this three-day celebration, start asking yourself the most important question: what are you going to eat?
I’m sure you’ve all heard about some of the controversy, but PVDFest won’t look the same as it did in the past. There’s a ban on open containers of alcohol (RIP to cocktails in a sliced-open pineapple), and the location has been moved from Kennedy Plaza and other parts of downtown to a grassy area along the river by the Pedestrian Bridge.
Mayor Brett Smiley gave in and agreed to allow some block parties, but he didn’t change one fan favorite: the village of food trucks that offer so many culinary choices.
The food truck village is organized by Eric Weiner, the founder and CEO of the national website FoodTrucksIn.com and of PVD Food Trucks Events, who gave me the tea.
Operating the food truck village on the outskirts of Kennedy Plaza in previous years was challenging, he said. The area lacked the proper number of tables and there weren’t enough grassy areas that weren’t already taken up by other vendors. “It’s not like many people could really picnic with their food,” said Weiner, who said he thinks the new location will be easier for attendees.
Some of the trucks will line up along South Main and South Water streets, which is technically in the Fox Point neighborhood. The operators are coming in from across the state and serving a variety of culinary delights — from seafood to barbecue and Dominican, Hawaiian, Jamaican, and Mexican street food. While most of the trucks will be there all three days, Weiner said attendees can expect a few new chefs serving fresh menus every day.
Matunuck Oyster Bar will also have a stand where they’ll be serving lobster rolls and oysters from Potters Pond. There’s a full list of food trucks with the well-known, classic favorites. But here’s a few unique standouts worth standing in line for.
Presto Strange O Coffee: For more than a decade, Presto Strange O Coffee Co. has been serving extravagant flavors of coffee that could include an entire cannoli, resemble confetti cake, or even — dare I say it — Barbie themed. Regardless, even if you just want a plain cup of joe, Presto’s caffeine level will be more than sufficient.
Cultro: First founded by Daniel Nunez in 2019 as a pop-up, food truck Cultro serves Dominican-style street tacos, empanadas, and arepas. Be sure to try the steak tacos, which marinate for days, and are topped with juicy pineapple.
JA Patty: Conroy Outar and Alison Rosario, the founders of JA Patty, can be found at nearly every major event — from weekly farmer’s markets to the Newport Jazz Festival — serving authentic Jamaican meat pies (with some vegan options). Also try their jerk chicken rice bowls and apple pie patty.
Shuckin’ Truck: Wild oysters harvested from a 34-acre oyster farm in Point Judith Pond will be available on the half shell from the Shuckin’ Truck. If raw oysters aren’t your thing, they also source their other seafood from local fishermen, which could include sea scallops, lobsters, ground- and tinned- fish, squid, and other seasonal selections. It all depends on the boat’s catch that day.
Gnarly Vines: Ester and Joel Bishop are the husband-and-wife duo behind the 16-acre Gnarly Vines Farm in Tiverton. Their farm-to-table food truck offers a taste of Ester Bishop’s childhood in Brazil, such as their pastel, which is a Brazilian empanada, and Brazilian fried croquettes that are crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside with chicken or vegetables.
Boba Wave: Established less than a year ago in the Foster, R.I., area, Boba Wave is the state’s first bubble tea food truck where everything is customizable. Here’s the menu.
Matilda: Pastelitos, or empanadas with some Dominican flare, are what Matilda is known for. They use local artisanal dough, and their long list of empanada flavors are crafted into heart-shaped masterpieces.
Masa Taqueria: Jonathon Kirk has had quite a journey. He started Masa Taqueria in his apartment before he started fulfilling Providence’s birria taco needs out of Rock & Rye on Atwells Avenue. He launched his food truck last year, which is true al pastor del trompo — thin slices of pork grilled using a rotating, vertical spit.
Twisted Ts: No, not the hard stuff. These Twisted Ts are bread cones that are stuffed with endless sweet and savory fillings — from deep-fried cheese raviolis to strawberry shortcake.