Where’s the best summer food truck event? In Reno, it comes down to a toss-up between the Feed the Camel and Reno Street Food events, both which offer a variety of foods, as well as desserts, adult beverages and more.
However, there are variations at these events, too, that tie into the overall enjoyment, particularly if you happen to have small ones in tow. While either event is likely to be fun and perk up your taste buds, the only way to choose the best is with a food truck smackdown. So, here's a list of categories to determine which event comes out up on top.
Round 1: Location, location, location
Feed the Camel, hits it off downtown at 925 Riverside Drive. This food truck event happens from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center, but prep starts as early as 3 p.m. Look for the trucks under the Keystone Bridge. And while the location is supremely unique, it seems to trap in food truck fumes, which adults or your little people (if you have any of those) might complain about.
Reno Street Food takes place at Idlewild Park, not too far from the McKinley Arts Center, in fact. Because this event is so much larger in size and draws more people, Idlewild Drive is packed with cars on both sides of the street, even as early as 5 p.m. when the event kicks off. Come Fridays and stay until 9 p.m., an hour longer than Feed the Camel.
When it comes to location, crowds and access there is hands-down only one winner.
Winner: Feed the Camel
Round 2: The family vibe
You'll see young tots, babies and strollers everywhere at the Feed the Camel event. There will be lots of dogs (on leash), too. Blankets are a must for the lawn, and there are a few picnic tables out front. You'll see happy people are sitting under the trees or on lawn chairs they have brought along. There's lots of chillin' and enjoying the company of one another, making this a prime kid-friendly event.
At Reno Street Food, you'll find lots of children and families, too. There are booths to have face-painting and caricatures done and even a magic show. Families can take advantage of the playground adjacent to the event, walk through the rose garden or listen to the live music. There is plenty of room to spread out, but this event is more crowded, meaning parents and adults need to keep a close eye on their kiddos, whether that's while they're sitting down and eating or waiting in line.
Winner: Feed the Camel
Round 3: The menu
Feed the Camel has nearly a dozen food trucks offering everything from wings and vegan food — like at the Nom Eats food truck (no meats, get it?) — as well as Chinese, Mexican and American fare options. You can also find adult drinks and beverages on tap, and because there are fewer people at this event, the lines are not as long.
Reno Street Food has 30-plus options including a few repeats from Feed the Camel, such as Tahoe Tenderloins and Slater's Ding a Wing. A ton of other choices are available, too, including Pho Real, Burger Me, Brother's BBQ and more. A few of these, like Smee's Alaskan Fish Bar, also have convenient seating in front.
When it comes to dining options, Reno Street Food takes the cake. Adult beverages also are available, and for an added bonus, the Ceol truck sprays a gentle mist of water while you're walking by.
Winner: Reno Street Food
Round 4: It's all in the name
Feed the Camel wins points for creative name referring to its Wednesday (“hump day”) reference, but there are just no camels around. This may be obvious to adults, but if you're priming children for the event: Don't. Mention. Camels. Otherwise, get prepared for an onslaught of questions about camels even after you explain none will be there.
Reno Street Food sums up the name of the Idlewild event succinctly and to the point. And while the lack of references to animals not found in Reno is appreciated, its name lacks a certain flair. However, "Crowded Event with Lots of People and Little Parking" does not really do it justice either, so we'll take the very exacting, precise and literal name.
Round 5: Parking, portable toilets, bikes
You can arrive late to Feed the Camel and still find plenty of parking. In fact, there are ample spaces around the McKinley Arts Center, making it impossible to feel edged out because of lack of a space. There are many people who walk or come from nearby residences, too. And, if proximity is truly important (like you want to walk as little as possible) then park on the side of the lot closest to Keystone Bridge. When you are walking back, you'll have the advantage of finding the portable toilets on that side, too.
Expect to spend time finding a parking space at Reno Street Food, unless you arrive early — as in before the 5 p.m. start time. You may need to do a few drive-bys before finding a space or maximize your parallel parking skills to squeeze your vehicle in between two others. Portable toilets are on the far side of the event, so you won't be able to hit them up while walking back to your car, unless you find parking on the back side. However, these restrooms are incredibly clean and four hand-washing stations are nearby. Reno Street Food does offer a sweet bike valet, but it's the vehicle parking that seems to be more of a problem.
Winner: Feed the Camel
And the winner is …
Feed the Camel comes out on top, and the truth is it is a much more relaxing, chill event all the way around (although it could benefit from just a few more food trucks in attendance). However, Reno Street Food is enviable for its many dining options and other amenities, like live music, the nearby playground and more. In the end, you'll probably have a good time no matter which event you go to — just be sure to have cash on hand as trucks may charge extra for cards.