County Fare’s food truck rodeo will give you that State Fair feeling

County Fare.Drew Jackson

This food truck review isn’t actually a food truck review.

Then again, you could say the subject is any food truck you want it to be about — as long as the truck is one of the many on the schedule at County Fare, a food truck venue in Durham that opened in April.

Think of it as a sort of permanent food truck rodeo, where two or three vendors (sometimes more on weekends) sell their savory wares every day of the week, except Monday and Tuesday, when County Fare is closed. The October calendar alone was loaded with a varied assortment of longtime favorites (Chirba Chirba, American Meltdown, Cousins Maine Lobster) and tantalizing newcomers (Soul Fresh Spring Rolls, Succotash, Mel’s Many Minis).

In the unlikely event that none of these strikes your fancy — or if you happen to be there on a weekend afternoon between the lunch and dinner food truck shifts — be advised that County Fare is also a restaurant worth paying a visit in its own right.

Especially if you’re craving a funnel cake. That’s just one of the options on a menu that takes its cue from the restaurant’s name, which in turn is a nod to the amusement park that once stood at the site of the Lakewood Shopping Center parking lot where County Fare is located.

The Italian sausage, peppers and onions sandwich, for one, features a succulent, flavor-packed sweet and spicy sausage that’s custom-blended to County Fare’s own recipe. The Philly cheesesteak serves up an authentically messy muddle of grilled sirloin, peppers, onions and your choice of American or Provolone on Philadelphia’s famous Amoroso rolls.

Richard Savarino, who owns County Fare with twin brother, Peter, and business partners Steve Frasher and Gil Scharf, explains that the Philly cheesesteak is the result of family visits to every noteworthy sandwich shop in and around Philadelphia. I’m happy to confirm that their research paid off big time.

By all means, add a side of hand-cut fries to your sandwich order. Better yet, spring for a large basket of garlic and rosemary fries, topped with a pecorino romano cheese blend. And if you’re still reminiscing about the State Fair, forget the cardiologist and spring for an order of the best fried cheese curds you’ll find this side of the Wisconsin state line.

Whether you get your meal from a food truck or the County Fare kitchen — or, what the heck? a little of each — it won’t take long to discover that food is by no means the only attraction. There’s seating for 150 in the big red barn, and another 200 (some sheltered) outside. There’s ample parking and a large open space where kids of all ages can burn off the calories of corn dogs and fried Twinkies playing corn hole, bocce and Giant Jenga.

And there’s beer — an exceptionally well-curated offering of 30 on tap (including a handful of ciders), plus many more in cans. The draft brews are dispensed by a system that fills the glass from the bottom up. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and makes for minimal spillage and a speedy pour.

You’ll appreciate that speedy pour on weekends, when the place is bustling. You’ll also be impressed by how quickly your pager goes off to tell you your food is ready, given the crowd of people enjoying themselves all around you. With a little imagination, you might even feel like you’re back at the State Fair.

County Fare

▪ 1920 Chapel Hill Road, Durham. 984-219-1875 or countyfaredurham.com

▪ Open Wednesday-Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m., Friday, 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check website for food truck calendar. No pets allowed.

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