The scene on a recent, cloudy Sunday on Portland’s Eastern Promenade seemed to indicate that food-truck season is winding down. But Curbside Comforts, one of a handful of trucks out there that 50-something degree day, isn’t going anywhere for a while.

I ended up in line at the vegan food truck sort of by accident. I was reading the menu on the side of the truck, when I realized people had started to gather behind me – a phenomenon I’ve watched occur there many times, that as soon people start lining up at one truck, a crowd quickly forms. On a tight schedule to make it back home before the Patriots’ 1 p.m. kickoff, I figured I should take the opportunity to order while I had it.

Plus, I’d been curious about the truck and its concept: vegan comfort food. It was something I assumed served no purpose for me. A meat-eater, I tend to eat vegan only when I’m looking for something healthy and it’s the best option available. If I’d decided I was going to indulge in mac and cheese or gravy fries, why would I take a chance on a vegan version?

But I had heard good things about the truck and wanted to see for myself. I got the Chick’n Patty Sammy ($10) and the Comfort Mac & Cheese ($8), thinking those would be good tests of their stand-ins for meat and dairy. Vegan gravy fries and anything covered in buffalo sauce didn’t feel like enough of a challenge, and you can get a Beyond burger anywhere.

The Chik’n Patty Sammy from Curbside Comforts food truck is a dead-ringer for the real thing.

I was handed a pager with a 1,000-foot range, a particularly nice feature on the prom, so you can wander a bit without missing your name being called. After 15 minutes, the buzzer went off, and through the window of the truck, I received a bag, the contents of which held up well on the 15-minute ride home.

At first bite, the sandwich was everything I’ve always loved about that inexplicably delicious combination of bread, mayonnaise and lettuce, since first experiencing it at Burger King. It also had a nice, thick slice of tomato, pickles, onions and a toasted bun that was better than what you’d get at a fast-food joint. I tore off a piece of the patty to see what it tasted like on its own, and it didn’t seem to have much flavor beyond the breading, but to me, that was better than a fake chicken taste. I regretted not trying the Chik’n Tenders ($9, $12 basket with fries) so I could better evaluate the meat substitute, because I wasn’t willing to deconstruct that tasty sandwich any further.

The Comfort Mac & Cheese is made with vegan versions of a four-cheese sauce and grated Parmesan.

The mac and cheese was less of a dead-ringer for the real thing, but I’ve had worse versions that were made with actual dairy. The “mac,” a nice curly cavatappi, was more al dente than I’m used to in that particular dish, but it grew on me. I didn’t mix up the contents of the to-go container adequately, leaving most of the cheese sauce at the bottom, so the first few bites were oilier and more buttery-tasting than the last few. Although the substitutes for cheese sauce and grated Parmesan on top didn’t taste exactly like dairy, they did taste more like real food than other cheese substitutes I’ve had. And afterward, I didn’t feel as overstuffed as I would have from the meat-and-dairy version of that meal.

So, now, I can see several reasons I might choose Curbside Comforts – as a slightly lighter indulgence, an acceptable option when eating in the company of vegans, or simply the most appealing choice among the dwindling number of food trucks. The man who took my order said the plan is to be out there into the beginning of December. At that point, eating outside calls for comfort food of any kind.


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