By Nick Manteris · 1 Comments · Leave a Comment
Food trucks are a common occurrence in many cities around the United States, but, until very recently, Las Vegas was not one of those cities. Now we’ve got Slidin’ Thru, a gourmet slider truck that roams the streets of Las Vegas providing mini burgers to an increasing group of devoted followers. Slidertruck describes itself as, “Las Vegas' first & only hip, upscale street food vendor” and the response seems pretty strong so far. “Slidertruck groupies” were mentioned in a Twitter exchange between Vegas Argot and my fellow critic, Christopher, which prompted a decision to check out this “burgeoning street food phenomenon.” Speaking of Twitter, Slidin’ Thru primarily uses the real-time information network to interact with potential customers. They also post a weekly schedule on their website, slidinthru.com, and maintain pages on both Flickr and Facebook. The prevalence of smartphones and the emergence of new social technologies combine forces to create an environment that is well suited for a mobile eating establishment…we definitely seem to be in the perfect age for food trucks. How is the food though?
The sliders are presented in the same order as the menu, but we tasted them from plainest to most complex, flavor-wise. It is also worth noting that we sliced up these mini burgers into bite-sized test portions, so certain individual bites may not have contained all the elements in a full slider. (Jalapenos, I am looking directly at you.)
Barbie – melted cheddar, caramelized jalapeno, crispy fried onion, bacon, bbq sauce: There is something about the taste of BBQ that I really like, so this slider started out with an unfair advantage. Unfortunately, I only got a touch of jalapeno flavor and I have to trust the word of another taster that there was actually a fair bit of spice on this one. Even so, with the cheese, bacon, BBQ and onion, there was a lot of taste going on and this was definitely one of the better options.
Pep Pep – lettuce, tomato, crisp bacon, sautéed onion, melted cheddar, super sauce: This slider is the closest to what I would create if I were able to mix-and-match the ingredients myself. I’m not sure what the super sauce is and, if I had remembered that this particular slider contained “super sauce” I would have dissected it to attempt to find out, but instead I just popped the bites in my mouth and let the tastes happen. And happen they did…Pep Pep was absolutely one of my favorites.
Yaya – lettuce, tomato, red onion, feta, tzatziki, white wine vinaigrette: This one was interesting…the tzatziki provided just a hint of Greek flavor to distance this from every other burger that I’ve ever eaten. I liked it…and I’d like to see what happens if the idea is taken further to foster more non-traditional flavors in conjunction with “burger.”
Captain’s Order – roma tomato, arugula, crisp bacon, feta cheese, sautéed onion, balsamic reduction: I would have named this one the Frankenstein – since it’s made out of parts of all the other sliders – but the Captain probably wouldn’t have liked that too much. The strong flavors of bacon and feta overshadowed most of the other flavors on this one…and I didn’t detect the balsamic at all. (Once again, this could have been my particular bite.)
Plain Jane – cheese and ketchup: This one reminded me of plain McDonalds cheeseburgers – without the chopped onions – but that’s probably definitely because plain McDonalds hamburgers and cheeseburgers are the only ones I ever eat with ketchup. That said, the burger was better than McDs, it just shared a similar flavor accompaniment. This is the only burger that I wouldn’t try again on a repeat visit – I’d rather have ketchup on my fries and complexity between the buns.
Pulled Porkie – tender, slow-cooked pork, caramelized jalapeno, bbq sauce: I only detected a tiny amount of jalapeno in my bite – not nearly enough – but, as I previously mentioned, I’m pretty sure another one of the tasters got the good bite. Sadly, and I say this only because it wasn’t a burger, this was my favorite bite of food from Slidin’ Thru.
Eggplant Caprese – grilled eggplant, roma tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, balsamic reduction: This one is specifically an excellent choice for vegetarians, but, really, anyone would enjoy this – the flavors work nicely together and the addition of eggplant adds enough substance to justify the bun.
Their fries, or “homestyle tater chips,” come in two varieties: regular and sweet potato. They also offer a spring salad.
Regular Fries: These are good – better than most of the fried potatoes that I’ve had around town…but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be better. At the very least, I would add some more pepper. (I happen to really, really like pepper and spices though, so keep that in mind.) I think some sort of gourmet dipping sauce would be a great idea as well and it would totally fit in with their image. Plus, the worst side effect from a new sauce might be a completely new sandwich. (Win-win.)
Sweet Potato Fries: These are something that you have to taste for yourself to believe. I haven’t been exposed to many fried sweet potatoes in my lifetime, but these were immediately crowned king. They are lightly dusted with a slightly-salty/mostly-sweet cinnamon mixture – Christopher said they were “kissed with cinnamon” – and it complements the flavor and almost bread-like, crispity-crunchety texture of the potato to create an anytime snack slightly reminiscent of cinnamon toast. (We recommend that you don’t waste any of the little sticks by dipping them in ketchup…the flavors don’t play well together. Perhaps the new gourmet dipping sauce will not share the same fate. Hint, hint.)
Spring Salad – with house vinaigrette: Because we forgot to order it, this was the one thing that we did not try. In retrospect, however, perhaps that was for the best. It might be the most amazing salad in town – in which case it should be highlighted as such – but it’s probably not, and salad really isn’t street food anyway. I would lose the salad and create another veggie-friendly slider. I mean, seriously, it’s a Slider Truck. Let the veggie-minded find a Salad Truck to follow around town, if they so desire. (Okay, before you diss me for hating on vegetarians, know this: I was a vegetarian for ten years. And I would probably still be one if I were not required to critically review all types and varieties of food. That’s right, people…I eat animals for you.)
Additionally, all of the above food was washed down with imported Coca-Cola in glass bottles, which – as we should all know by now – is the preferred delivery vehicle for soda.
As I said, the Pulled Porkie was my favorite and the Sweet Potato Fries were better than any others that I've tried. The Pep Pep is my second choice and the Barbie comes in third. It's interesting to note that, with the exception of the untested salad, I liked everything on the menu – all of the flavor combinations were good and there were a few pleasant surprises. (I still don’t understand the fervor of the slider truck fanatics though.) I wouldn’t drive too far out of my way to visit the Slider Truck and a long line might dissuade me from waiting around, but I enjoyed my meal and I will definitely visit them again. Slidin’ Thru is better than the usual places that sell burgers and being able to get a few different tastes in one meal is the best part of all.