When the city of Denton initially opened the floodgates for food trucks to operate in town, we initially had high hopes for lots of trucks to crawl out of the rafters. Sadly, this was not the case. While there are still a few trucks that operate in Denton city limits, only three of them call Denton their home as of this review. Shiitake Swerve, the recently opened mushroom-concept truck is one of them.
Admittedly, we had all but written Shiitake Swerve off at this point. They had been talking big game since last summer with little to show for it. We found our expectations continuously rising only to be dashed by them not following through. Initially the crew said the long wait was due to their custom paint job. If so, it was worth the wait. They have one of the best-looking truck designs we’ve seen out of north Texas. That said, it does appear that the paint job might not have been the only thing keeping Shiitake Swerve from opening.
Last October’s Friday Night Bites was to be their grand unveiling, but technical difficulties kept them from selling. While we’ve seen SS operating at a couple different events at this point (namely 35 Denton), they still haven’t quite shaken all of the difficulties they had experienced during their first days open. Their first day at 35 was spent with their doors shut for the majority of the time, and when we first tried to get some grub at Redbud Fest this weekend, we were met with a sign that they had run out of fuel and would be back in ten or fifteen minutes. Opening a local business can be a difficult thing, especially when that business is on wheels and is this delicious.
Problems aside, we tried a couple things at Shiitake Swerve. First, we got the taco plate with both the original and the jerk tacos. The original came with grilled garlic shiitake mushrooms, shredded cabbage, garlic sauce, green onion and what appeared to be some cotija cheese on top. It was creamy and cool at first, but the mushrooms themselves really packed a big flavor punch - being almost smoky in their aftertaste. The jerk taco was vibrant and fresh, topped with mango pico. It was perfectly light and flavorful. This taco was bright, colorful and holy shiitake did it ever have a surprising amount of spice that stuck around afterwards. The heat came as a bit of a surprise, but ended up being a delightful addition to this taco. The sweet potato salad came as a side and has quickly become something we're trying to recreate in our own kitchens for summer picnics. Shiitake Swerve pushes their freshly squeezed orange juice as their go-to beverage, but we stuck with waters. They managed to kill the heat adequately.
In addition to the taco plate, it was also recommended that we try the chocolate chili. This was also crazy delicious. The chili had a mole like flavor due to the chocolate and came atop some delightfully salty chips with sour cream and green onions strewn atop. The heat was absent from this particular dish, but it wasn’t missed. This was satisfying and fun to try and eat with a fork.
Both items took a little while to retrieve (about ten minutes), but were well worth the wait. Maybe Shiitake Swerve should take a page out of The Pickled Carrot’s book and take orders via text when they’re operating in town.
This isn’t truck-quality food, guys. This is the stuff of gourmet restaurants. Heck, when we peeked inside the window, we even saw someone in full chef-regalia, hat and all. Everything we tried at SS was amazing. Sadly, we have fears that a mushroom-centric truck might not have exactly what it takes to survive. We are by no means vegetarians, and meat was definitely not missed during our meal. We hope the rest of Denton won’t be scared off by the fungus these chefs are a-cookin’ and give them a try. While we do have a high vegan/vegetarian population, they don’t get out that much and when they do, they might not be able to afford the $9/plate options that Shiitake Swerve offers. The one thing SS does have going for them is that they are one of the three trucks currently calling Denton their home base (the other two being The Pickled Carrot and Happy Camper's Sno-cones). So if you do support Denton and want to see more food trucks pop up in the future, you owe it to them to at least give the ‘shrooms Shiitake Swerve is slinging a shot.