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Cheap Eats: Get it to Go

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Get it to Go owner Albert Esaw / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Get it to Go owner Albert Esaw / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Get it to Go
At the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Orange Avenue
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Fri. and Sat., 1-7 p.m. Sun.
822-7685 or facebook.com/Getittogo
This is the umpteenth entry in a weekly column dedicated to eats that are cheap. If you have an idea for a place to feature in Cheap Eats, comment below, email me at cheapeatssrq@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter:@LeveyBaker.

Most days, the southeast corner of MLK and Orange Avenue sits empty—just a carpet of sand and grass in an unused lot. But that changes every Friday, when Albert Esaw's Get it to Go truck pulls up.

Get it to Go at its Friday-Saturday-Sunday spot: the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Orange Avenue / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Get it to Go at its Friday-Saturday-Sunday spot: the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Orange Avenue / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

The tall black truck sits on the lot in a wide shady patch beneath a verdant oak tree, a generator roaring to provide power to the cookery going on inside. A yellow real estate sign with the promise "Soul Food Sold Here" rests against the truck's grill, while the bright yellow and red lettering on the side lets you know you're in for "Home Style Cooking & Catering Featuring Uncle Al's Bar-B-Que, Soul Food & More."

Cars and pedestrians amble up to the corner, around the many-rooted banyan that stands watch nearby, and up to the open window into which Esaw leans, shouting greetings and taking orders. The menu is scribbled on a dry-erase board set against the truck's side. It's short and to the point—smothered and fried chicken, chitterlings, oxtails, ribs, etc., with all the necessary sides: collard greens, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese and green beans. For dessert, a $2 slice of sponge cake. To drink, a $1 lemonade slushy.

Esaw has been in the mobile soul food game for three years. He used to park on Lockwood Ridge, but he's been coming steadily to MLK and Orange on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for two months now. It is not to be missed.

Get it to Go's chitterlings / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Get it to Go's chitterlings / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

I'm most excited to try the chitterlings ($10), small bits of pig intestines that have been cooked and cooked till they're soft and rich. You might think they'd be chewy or gelatinous, but they're not. The biggest crime you could accuse them of is being a bit on the bland side. Esaw tosses a generous portion of the intestines with some yellow rice, which starches it up, and then pairs it with a sweet hunk of cornbread and two sides—your choice.

The collard greens are terrific, some of the best I've had. While many cooks drench their greens in vinegar, Esaw has a light touch with the acid, and the result is an intense, savory scoop of collards. The green beans are also cooked to perfection, so tender you barely need to chew but still suffused with earthy flavor. The black-eyed peas are a little more mashed up than I prefer—I like to be able to feel the bite in the individual beans—but they remain tasty. The mac and cheese, meanwhile, is solid, with none of that bland, unseasoned macaroni that can drag down even this simple standby.

And then there's the riblets ($8), which also come with two sides. While with traditional ribs you just gnaw off the meat along one long bone, Esaw cuts his meat across the bones, giving you little strips of meat punctuated by short bits of bone, and then infuses the meat with smoke till there's a nice black crust on the outside. Tossed with the hot version of Esaw's sauce (he also offers mild and mustard), the riblets are killer.

The sponge cake is a simple sweet meal-finisher, the lemonade slushy a delightful surprise on a hot sunny day. There's no seating anywhere nearby (except maybe the trunk of your car), so Esaw's truck is strictly a grab-and-go operation. Or as the truck itself reminds you: "Get it to go." Indeed.

Last modified: April 14, 2014
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