Government Connections - Winter 2013 - (Page 9)

DIETING ON A PER DIEM Fast Food Done Right By Tracey Chapman, IOM Travel Portland NOT SO LONG ago, getting a meal “to go” meant a trip to a fast-food restaurant or the corner vendor. Thankfully, food cart fare no longer consists solely of hot dogs “with the works,” chips and soft drinks. Mobile eateries have rolled into cities across the country offering a variety of menu options at per diem friendly prices. THE PRICE IS RIGHT With the economy still sluggish, the lure of good food at a bargain has meant a boom for food carts. Curbside dining is less expensive than a sit-down restaurant and a cut above the average fast food joint. Most food cart meals range between five to ten dollars, and many vendors are equipped to accept cash and credit cards. Long lines are sometimes a drawback, but these cheap eats can be well worth the wait! food was prepared at home or in a commercial kitchen. KEEPING TRACK Finding a popular food truck may require a little social media savvy. Mobile food carts, like Curbside Cupcakes in Washington, DC, are using Facebook and Twitter to provide up-to-the-minute updates on their location, available menu items and daily deals. There are several websites and apps that track street food vendors nationwide, such as, and thest (for the DC area only). Your local convention and visitors bureau may also have a listing of food carts as part of their dining guide. For food cart reviews, Zagat and Yelp can be helpful, and TV shows including the Cooking Channel’s Eat St., features food trucks and mobile food carts from across country. The next time you’re looking for a quick bite on the road, consider checking out a food cart. These mobile eateries offer tasty, healthy options that won’t break the budget! 9 VARIETY – THE SPICE OF THE STREET FOOD SCENE From Milwaukee to Austin and from Pittsburgh to Portland, OR, food carts have become the go-to for emerging, experienced, and even celebrity chefs looking to showcase their culinary creations without the overhead costs of a brick and mortar restaurant. As a result, street eats offer options to tempt every taste bud. Whether you crave pho soup, Carolin a pulled pork, or Per uv i an chicken, chances are there’s a local food truck that specializes in that particular cuisine. There also are mobile eateries that specialize in healthy choices including: fresh fruit, salads and smoothies, as well as vegetarian and vegan dishes. SAFETY FIRST To be licensed, food cart vendors must comply with city sanitation, safety and health regulations. Many cities require that food cart owners do their food prep in a commercial kitchen. Others have ordinances mandating that mobile food operators display health inspection letter grades. Even still, diners should check to make sure that the food cart appears clean and that operators are washing their hands and wearing gloves. And, it doesn’t hurt to ask questions, such as how often food temperatures are checked or whether

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Winter 2013

President’s Letter
Editor’s Letter
Going Places
Dieting on a Per Diem
Plan Green
Education Edge
Ethics and Site Visits
Why the Government Should Hire Qualified, Professional Meeting Planners
Supplier Strategy
Good to Know
That’s Technology
Conference Connection
Travel Tips & Trends
Membership News
SGMP Nation
The Meeting Minute
Advertisers’ Index

Government Connections - Winter 2013