Meadows Casino's Band Wagon truck is no gamble for fun food

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:09 p.m.

There are a lot of pluses fueling the food-truck fad.

Menus often feature interesting innovative or uncommon items at affordable prices. Snack-sized portions make it possible to satisfy a whim without the commitment of a meal.

But there are minuses as well. Street food doesn't usually come with tables and chairs or provide shelter from rain, snow, humidity and high winds. Beverage choices are generally few.

But The Band Wagon, a food truck inside the Meadows Casino, has found a way to serve up a winning combination by featuring the pluses while overcoming the minuses. It's parked at the far end of the Casino, where it shares a seating area with the Headliners performance area. Nearby is a full-service bar so you can choose from a variety of drinks both soft and hard.

The Band Wagon has proved very popular since it opened last April, says Ari Sobel, director of food and beverage for The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.

“We wanted another fun venue with a different variety of items,” says Sobel. “It fits the theme of the area next to the live entertainment and the bar.”

Sobel also thinks The Band Wagon fills a niche in the venue's dining options that vary from the formal, full-service Bistecca Steakhouse to casual fast-food items in the food court.

Lots of thought has gone into the menu which rotates items in and out on a weekly basis.

“We want to keep it fun and keep it fresh,” Sobel says. “It's food that is fun, delicious and share-able.”

The menu is posted on the Casino website so you can know before you go. Sobel and his staff pride themselves on making items from scratch. Some items are more permanent than others:

Fries ($4, regular; $6, jumbo) are hand-cut and emerge crunchy and golden from the fryer basket. Wings ($6 for six, $10 for 12) can be ordered in six flavors including Honey Mustard, Cajun Dry Rub BBQ and Hot Buffalo.

Also a mainstay is the Maine Lobster Roll Slider ($6, $14 for two with fries). This 4-inch-long thick slice of lightly toasted asiago chiabatta is filled to overflowing with fresh-tasting chunks of lobster held together by a light-but-flavorful mayonnaise-based sauce, and was our favorite choice.

“People are batty for it,” Sobel says.

Others come and go to keep the selections interesting. Right now, there's a Frita Cubana Slider ($4, $10 for two with fries) — char-grilled sirloin, carmelized onion, spicy Cuban tomato sauce and crunchy shredded potatoes.

Or you might want to try Armadillo Eggs ($6) — deep-fried chili peppers stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in sausage, served with chipotle ranch sauce.

“These are things you can't get in the greater-Washington area,” Sobel says. “For $6, we will blow your mind.”

There is a downside to featuring a rapidly rotating menu of hand-made items. Fast food it is not. Orders are taken quickly and efficiently. But service can get backed up, even on a relatively quiet evening.

Despite the wait, we would return, especially if the Band Wagon were to bring back a recently deleted item — Prime Rib Blue Cheese Nachos with balsamic glazed onions.

The Band Wagon is inside The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, 210 Racetrack Road, North Strabane. Hours: 5-12 p.m. Wednesdays, 5-10 p.m. Thursdays, 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4-10 p.m. Sundays. Details: 724-503-1200 or

Alice T. Carter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808,

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