Spice Boys

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The Spice Boys—Steven Schmitt and Carl Kolber—are in a transitional phase.

In recent years, the duo and their brightly decorated food truck have earned an enthusiastic following for their exceptional pan-Middle Eastern cuisine. With the exception of summertime, when the Boys typically halt operations, they have done regular popups at apartment buildings and wine shops, as well as one-offs and special catering events. But earlier this year, they announced that they were hunting for a permanent brick-and-mortar location, which threw fans into a tizzy.

While details of the non-mobile Spice Boys business have not been hammered out, in the meantime, we still have the truck, which provides access to Schmitt and Kolber’s incredible food. There’s nothing subtle about the Spice Boys’ dishes—bold, layered creations that will leave you begging for more.

To make the truck’s “sabich” ($13), the Boys somehow pack soft eggplant, a crunchy slaw, cucumbers, tomatoes, banana peppers, a chunk of hard-boiled egg, tahini, zhug (a spicy green sauce from Yemen) and amba (a tangy pickled mango sauce) into a grilled pita. And then there’s the fried chicken sandwich ($14), the falafel pita ($13) and the hummus ($8), which is so smooth and creamy it makes it difficult to go back to the store-bought stuff. Wherever the Spice Boys go, I will follow. 

Preparing the "chicken fries" at G's Southern Mobile Kitchen.

G’s Southern Mobile Kitchen

(941) 284-6615, gssouthernkitchen.comfacebook.com/southernkitchen941instagram.com/southernkitchen941twitter.com/gskitchen941

The demolition of the clubhouse at Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Club this spring forced chef Gordon Gregory—whose soul food restaurant G’s Southern Kitchen had occupied the clubhouse since 2019—to become a culinary nomad. He invested in a food trailer and has begun doing popup meals at breweries and bars, as well as pit stops in parking lots, typically along north U.S. 301.

But while the setting may have changed, Gregory’s food remains just as good as you remember. The colossal wings (six pieces, plus two sides, cost $15) are deep-fried until perfectly crispy, then tossed with seasoning and hit with a subtly sweet sauce. Addictive fried shrimp ($18 for a basket) get a similar treatment. The sides round out the menu. The collard greens, studded with hunks of smoked turkey, are soft and earthy, the fried okra provides a nice alternative to fries, and the macaroni and cheese will please adults and kids alike.

A selection of tacos from Doña Betty Tacos.

Doña Betty Tacos

(941) 580-4730

A cult favorite for late-night tacos and burritos, the Doña Betty taco truck used to set up in the parking lot of the now-shuttered country music nightclub Joyland in Bradenton. But earlier this year, the truck motored to the south, establishing a new setup in the parking near the Wells Fargo bank located at 6285 14th St. W., Bradenton.

What hasn't changed? Those tacos. The beef cheek barbacoa is justly famous thanks to its silky texture and its robust, fatty flavor. Ask for your tacos fully loaded, and they'll be sprinkled with cilantro, cubes of white onion and shredded cheese, and plated next to a small mound of sautéed onions. You'd be a fool to say no to the pickled jalapeño and carrots on the side, or the hunks of pineapple, or both the red and green sauces. Four tacos make for a perfect feast.

Polpo Pizza Co.

Image: Chris Lake

Polpo Pizza Co.

(941) 993-5263
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The Polpo pizza truck roared back into public consciousness last year, after the Covid-19 pandemic put the kibosh on the company’s lucrative event catering business. These days, the truck sets up at the Sarasota Farmers Market every Saturday and the Phillippi Farmhouse Market every Wednesday, and mixes in other appearances and private events. The “Bee Sting” is famous for good reason, thanks to its perfect balance of heat from Calabrese salami and a chili-infused oil and sweetness from a drizzle of homemade “hot honey.” The Neapolitan-style crust is some of the New World’s best.

Sadie Peachey.

Peachey's Baking Company

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For the Peachey siblings Sadie, Nate and Sam of Peachey's Baking Company, cooking and baking are a family tradition. They use their mother’s recipe to make vanilla-glazed doughnuts, which they sell from a food truck at Phillippi Farmhouse Market and at other events around the area and even around the country. “We’ve incorporated sourdough into the recipe because that’s how my mom baked growing up,” says Sadie. The result is an enormous, pillowy, yeast-raised doughnut that’s dripping with vanilla glaze. Don’t miss the homemade pretzels, either.

Tacos from Fire Tacos.

Fire Tacos

(941) 462-8155

You'll usually find this truck set up in a barren lot at 886 S. Packinghouse Road, Sarasota, where the staff cranks out tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas and other Mexican specialties. The pork al pastor tacos and beef asada tacos are exceptional, and they come dressed with a fiery red sauce that will light up your taste buds. Don't forget to order a horchata, which is nice and sweet, with a thick, starchy texture and plenty of fragrant cinnamon.

Antonio Pereira.

Savor 100x35

(787) 564-8354
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After Antonio Pereira was laid off from a gig as a server in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, he took matters into his own hands and launched a new food truck that operates primarily in south Sarasota County. Savor 100x35 is named after the dimensions of Puerto Rico, and Pereira’s food does justice to the cuisine of the island, with bright bowls stuffed with yucca, plantains, cilantro, avocado, rice, beans, guava, chicken, beef and pork.

“I want people to taste the flavors of Puerto Rico, but I didn’t want to box myself into tradition, because we’re not traditional,” says Pereira, who calls the truck’s food “urban Latin fusion." Find him on social media and smash that follow button.

Megan McDonald contributed reporting to this story.

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