Ginger the dog knew exactly what she wanted from Hoosier Fat Daddy Bus Cafe: a treat. It seems whenever Tom Rockwell's bright blue converted school bus pulls up by the War Memorial on Meridian St., Ginger (and her human) show up and Ginger waits, panting, until Rockwell or his sister-in-law clamors down with something tasty. On this day it was a handful of tater tots.We were drawn to the Shrimp Salad Sandwich ($5.99), a sumptuous serving of chilled tender shrimp with what amounted to egg salad, including celery, tomatoes and crispy lettuce wrapped in a commodious slice of wheat bread. Even on a sweltering day this combination retained a high refreshment quotient.
As did an order of the Broccoli Salad ($1.49), a sweet yet tangy combination of fresh broccoli florets mixed with cherry tomatoes and accented with flecks of radish and quality bacon.
An Empanada Dawg ($3.99), a quarter-pound beef dog in an empanada wrap, the Pulled Jerk Pork Sandwich ($5.99) and a Steak Sandwich with Poblano Drizzle (also $5.99) were tempting.
Rockwell, who worked as a nurse for 20 years until taking the food truck plunge last February, is an affable gent who was turned on to food trucks by his nephews in California and egged on by his son, who's an executive chef in Louisville. "There's 9,000 of them in Los Angeles, with eight million people" he says of food trucks. "There's 5,000 of them in Chicago and 5,000 in New York City. We're a city of 2.5 million - if you count all the surrounding counties - and we have 12. Maybe it's our time."
Rockwell's Bus Cafe looks for locations where people might otherwise have to drive in order to grab a bite to eat. "We come downtown a couple of days a week and we go north a couple of days a week. On Friday evening we go to the Westfield Farmers Market and hang out up there."
He's looking forward to the Super Bowl. "They're expecting about 200,000 more people than they can seat. We've talked to the city and there are several groups working on this. They're even talking about having groups of food trucks in designated areas."
For Rockwell, serving folks in the middle of winter won't be that different from working through a heat wave. He laughs: "It's just as hard to run out when it's freezing to get something to eat as it is when it's too darn hot!"