News Tribune reporter Sara Schilling wrote in this story Monday about the end of a food era at the Puyallup Fair. For 17 years, the Fleischkuechle trailer has sold fried meat and fruit pies just outside the fair grounds. But, they will sell fried pies no longer. The fair is purchasing the property where they operate their stand. This will be their last year.
I enjoyed my last fair taste of fleischkuechle, a German-Russian turnover, late last week. The thin pocket ($3.50) released a puff of steam as I bit into the hot pie filled with savory ground beef. As I stood at the corner of Ninth Avenue Southwest and Fairview Drive, I could see a few dozen food vendors spanning the block to Meridian hawking everything from fried turnovers to something called walking tacos, corn dogs, bottled water, funnel cakes and even side-by-side booths selling Chicago hometown favorites – Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago style hot dogs. Click “more” to read about street food outside the fair.
Wandering next door to the Fleischkuechle trailer, I stumbled onto something that is genius in concept – a walking taco at a booth with the same name. You pick your taco fillings and they stuff it into a waffle cone made of a cornmeal batter spiked with chile powder. I ordered mine with beef, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, beans, rice and a pile of veggies ($6.50). I’ll say this: It’s an interesting idea, but in execution, the meat tasted too dry and the fillings needed more layering. Toppings were compartmentalized, piled in one at a time. Still, they get a nod for a genius idea. If someone opened a walking taco truck, I’d write a story (hint hint).
Heading in the direction of Meridian, I wandered past booths offering corn dogs, scones and burgers. The prices are marginally reduced, but didn’t look to be exceptional values or of high enough quality to make me want to fork over the bucks.
Near the corner of Ninth Avenue Southwest and South Meridian is where the food vendors turned interesting.
Side by side are Taste of Chicago and Tommy Chicago Hot Dog. Both offer tastes of Chicago food favorites: dogs and beef sandwiches.
I ordered an Italian beef ($7) from a Taste of Chicago and was rewarded with a big, juicy mess. A stadium roll was stuffed full of layers of roast beef that had been dipped in au jus (in Chicago – it probably would be called juicy, as opposed to wet style. See the difference here). The sandwich had a spattering of puckery giardiniera and a single sport pepper for added heat.
I’ve only found Italian beefs at Sully’s Alder Street Café/Lucky’s Diner in Sumner, and at the Red Hot in Tacoma. If anyone sees the sandwich on a menu locally, please email me. I love Italian beefs.
Next to A Taste of Chicago is the mobile hot dog truck Tommy Chicago, which I wrote about here. The truck will be moving after the fair closes Sunday to a new location in the parking lot at Cash ‘n Carry at 111 112th St. S., Tacoma. Tommy’s menu of Chicago dogs and other hot dog classics are being served just outside the fair now.