John Wayne Searchers-ing for Food Trucks

If only The Duke was looking for sliders.

The South Point parking lot played host to a slew of impressive food trucks Feb. 1., during the South Point Gourmet Food Truck Fest, where local and out-of-town trucks converge on the locals joint for a picnic/outdoor movie screening mash-up.

This was the second time South Point has done the event – featuring the John Wayne 1956 classic The Searchers in this iteration–though the film seemed ancilliary. This event was all about the food. (Apologies to John Ford and Natalie Wood.)

Local all-stars such as Las Vegas food truck O.G. Slidin’ Thru and downtown favorite LoveGrub were in the lot, but the visitors were the real attraction for the crowd of a few hundred.

It was a who’s who of food truck fame with vehicles making the trek from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even Denver.  My goal, along with my two friends, was to divide and conquer. We split up and each waited in a different long line, trying to sample as many delicacies as possible. After each received an order, we’d find the other two and share.

I set my sights on the Ludo Truck first. Having recently watched Anthony Bourdain scarf down the fried chicken that Lavo’s original head chef Ludo Lefebvre churns out, it was my most anticipated tasting. And it lived up to the hype with a crunchy fried chicken breast sandwich, topped with smooth cole slaw and punchy pickles all on a perfect Breadbar roll.

The deal of the night went to the Border Grille Truck, making its first appearance in Las Vegas. The baby of the Two Hot Tamales, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, this is one of the most popular L.A.-based trucks. They also own the successful Border Grille restaurants, which has an outpost at Mandalay Bay. For $10, we did the combo meal which featured winning dishes that Milliken cooked on Top Chef Masters. It started with five quinoa fritters with a tangy sauce. Next came a carne asada quesadilla, and finally, churro tots with a whipped cream for dessert.

Denver-based Biker Jim’s Dogs offered an elk-jalapeño-cheddar-brat, which was smoky and rich. The Chairman Bao Truck from San Francisco delivered delicious steamed buns, from pork belly and daikon to Coca-Cola braised pork butt and cabbage and chicken with sesame puree.

Unlike downtown’s StrEATs, this was a quieter night. Instead of DJs, we had Wayne on a mission to rescue his niece. The lot where it was held was spacious enough for the 20 or so food trucks, plus a large number of tables. In the spirit of the food-truck culture, Pasadena, Calif.-based Pie N Burger Truck gave away pecan pie and chocolate cake to passers-by at the end of the night, saying they’d rather have people eat it than waste it.