Gary's new downtown food truck park is serving up breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos and down-home barbecue in a field on Fifth Avenue between Carolina and Georgia streets, a few blocks east of the U.S. Steel Yard, hoping to cater to steelworkers at nearby Gary Works and an underserved community.
The first two food trucks at 5th Avenue Food Stop are Blacktop BBQ and Cracked, a truck that served the University of Illinois campus for a decade and that's affiliated with Cracked on Milwaukee in Chicago's hip Wicker Park neighborhood. It moved from a long tenure in Champaign-Urbana to downtown Gary.
Blacktop offers jerk chicken, rib tips, pulled pork and other slowed-cooked favorites along with southern sides like steamed cabbage and mac and cheese. Cracked specializes in breakfast fare like smoked chorizo tacos, breakfast burritos, and the Salami Monster, a sandwich in which grilled salami, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, cream cheese, berry jam and hash browns are piled into a French roll.
A standout is the Parmesan truffle tots, the Platonic ideal of golden brown tots from a cafeteria lunch line suffused with the musky, earthy taste of truffle oil and dusted with flakes of nutty, savory Parmesan.
On the lunch front, Blacktop BBQ serves an excellent brisket sandwich in which tender beef brisket is sliced thin, piled high and stuffed into a soft, pillowy roll. The well-marbled meat is mouth-wateringly juicy and just crisp enough on the edges. It comes with a heap of thick-cut French fries or your choice of side.
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Taste Test is a weekly feature showcasing specialty dishes at Region restaurants.