In 2015, the Des Moines City Council finally gave a green light to allow for food trucks to operate in Des Moines. Around that same time, the owners of food trucks formed an association (Legion of Food) to promote their cause.
In the more than four years since, Central Iowa has experienced significant street food growth. It's not uncommon for trucks to gather at various spots on any given day throughout the metro. We're a long way from notable foodie cities like Portland, Oregon or Austin, Texas but Des Moines is continuing to gain momentum. The suburbs have become welcoming spots for trucks to operate, new trucks have started, existing brick and mortar restaurants have added a truck to their business, and even some trucks have jumped into a having a full-blown brick and mortar restaurant.
One of the signature food truck events each year in Central Iowa is the annual Food Truck Throwdown, hosted by the Des Moines Social Club.
This year was it's 5th year (2015, 16, 17, 18, and now 19) and it has only continued to build into a marquee event. I've not made it to all of them, but it's an annual event that I often look forward to. It runs from 11 AM to 8 PM. If the weather is nice, you can expect thousands of central Iowans to show up throughout the nine hour window.
That was certainly the case this year. I would imagine that these trucks go through a lot of grub within that time frame.
I spent about an hour at the event and managed to find myself some lunch despite the long lines.
It's generally a pretty good place to do some people watching...or in some cases...dog watching.
I was open to about anything and ended up finding a line that was moving relatively quickly. Thus, it was Mema's Italian Grinders for lunch.
I got a meatball sub and it was simply outstanding. Delicious meatballs, chewy bread, melty cheese, flavorful seasonings, and delicious sauce.
There are also stations where you can buy both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Lots of people sort of stand to eat, but there are some tables to utilize.
The trucks were spread out along the street between the Des Moines Social Club and the always popular West End Architectural Salvage. The Des Moines Social Club, which is struggling a bit financially, hosted the event and they also had activities within their grounds.
Live music was scheduled throughout the day.
There was also bags boards and a chalkboard in the shape of a truck, among many other activities.
There is always a lot going on at the Des Moines Social Club. I usually make it there at least once or twice a month, it seems. However, the Food Truck Throwdown is one of their most popular events each year and always brings a lot of people into the urban core of downtown Des Moines. It's a great celebration of the local food scene and it will no doubt continue to grow as the concept continues to mature.