Wow. What a treat. I stopped by the Port Fonda food truck last Saturday afternoon to sample chef/owner Patrick Ryan’s Mexican fare, cooked to order at the truck’s stove.
I had been reading for months about Ryan’s project, a retrofitted airstream trailer. And this is not any old trailer. The interior is wrapped with gorgeous wood and has a chef’s table to match (more on that below.)
The truck is only open on weekend nights, with the exception of Saturday afternoons when you can usually find Port Fonda in the Rieger Hotel Exchange and Grill parking lot for about a 14 hour stretch. During the day the menu is limited to a few items, but when evening comes another handful of offerings take shape in the kitchen, ranging from tacos to tortas (Mexican sandwiches.) With our ever-increasing reliance on social media, the best way to discover where the truck will be parked and what will be on the menu is to follow Port Fonda on Facebook or Twitter.
I’m a big fan of Frontera Grill in Chicago, and when I heard Ryan used to work there, I knew this was going to be good. Even with high expectations, it blew me away. I haven’t been this excited about a dish since I first had a pizza at Pizza Bella and dreamt about it that night.
Ryan nailed the salsa. It sang with the roasted flavor of the chiles and had a marvelous kick to it. The tortillas had been softened by the sauce but weren’t soggy, as tends to happen if the dish is allowed to cook too long. And the egg was perfectly cooked, its runny yolk melding with the other ingredients to complete the happiness in my mouth.
I wanted to try a taco and the only one they were serving that day had a tripe filling. For those unfamiliar with tripe, it’s part of a cow’s or pig’s stomach and is the main ingredient in a traditional Mexican soup called Menudo. Not a fan of Menudo, I was not overly enthused, but I ordered it anyway. It came in crisp strips and had I not been acutely aware of what I was eating, I may have mistaken it for meat. It was simply garnished, as are most street tacos, with pickled onions and just a touch of sauce. Not my favorite taco ever, but worth sampling.
Within the truck is a cozy table for 6, with a U-shaped banquette. The dining room (known as el comedor) is available by reservation only on weekend nights. Ryan is offering a 3 course meal centered around a pork shoulder and served with all the fixings to roll up in tortillas. I’m excited for that experience– based on my initial visit to Port Fonda, it should be a blast.