Time Out has the Last Exit food truck park reviewed, helping you decide what to eat in Dubai's most popular place to stop on Sheikh Zayed Road
By Shitika Anand11 August 2016
Filled with shining Airstreams set across a playful, colourful plot, there’s nowhere trendier in Dubai right now.
But while this retro food truck park is a fantastic concept, it is in need of some fine-tuning. Food takes quite a long time to arrive for a drive-thru, it’s difficult to navigate if the people in your car want more than one cuisine and the space would really benefit from some on-site entertainment (arcade games, anyone?) and a petrol station.
Nevertheless, it’s a cool spot and a novel idea (and if your car’s interiors don’t quite cut it, it also houses easily the snazziest food court in the city). Here’s what we made of the trucks dishing up the nosh…
Already a favourite in Dubai’s BoxPark, this truck offers hand-made burgers with a number of interesting, but not-too-wacky toppings. Ordering is a joy, the voice coming at us through the intercom is friendly, clear and doesn’t mess about. We order the actual Big Smoke Burger (if the joint is named after it, it must be good, right?). It takes ten minutes to prepare, so we sit inside and wait. Whatever they do in that truck for ten minutes, it works. The bun is soft, the meat is juicy and the smoked cheddar and horseradish mayo work well with the sweet caramelised onions and tomato. You have a choice of burger spots at Last Exit, but you can’t go wrong with this one. Dhs39 (burger only). www.bigsmokeburger.com.
There is certainly no shortage of options at Baja Fresh, from the boneless chicken bites to onion rings, mammoth Mexican burritos to bulging burgers. There’s even an Oreo shake. It’s certainly closer to fast food than anything else at Last Exit, but is priced on a par with the higher-end offerings. For taste, the Dhs37 Taco Combo was fine, but nothing more; it certainly didn’t feel like the souped-up grub Last Exit really deserves. A dishonourable mention, too, to the ladles of liquid processed cheese pre-prepared and sitting uncomfortably close to the collection point. Dhs37 (Taco Combo), Dhs25 (boneless chicken – six pieces). www.bajafresh.com.
The simple menu features beef and chicken burgers, fries and canned or bottled drinks. The patties are grilled when ordered, while already-cooked fries are kept warm as you wait (and suffer a little taste-wise as a result). Our cheeseburger, fries and can of coke takes an inordinate amount of time to arrive – it’s the last of all truck food to be collected. The burger is very good, though. A thick-cut juicy beef patty in a brioche bun is garnished with curly lettuce, raw onions, sliced gherkin and ketchup. But it doesn’t suffer from sloppiness and it goes down a real treat. When the team get into their stride, this truck will be quite a popular one. Dhs48 (Combo cheeseburger meal). Currently no website.
Handily located right next to the entrance of the air-conditioned dining area, Clinton St. Baking Company’s Last Exit offering is more cute food van than trailer. It’s also one of the few that you can’t drive up to, but they do deliver the food to you if you sit and wait inside. The menu, which is clearly visible on the side of the bright red van, includes mains, desserts and milkshakes. It’s pretty concise, which is good as it makes ordering quick and easy, and includes Clinton St.’s popular fried chicken and waffle dish and mini pancakes for dessert. There are several sandwich options. We go for a veggie sandwich, which comes packed with fillings including avocado, white cheddar and tomato, all on crispy sourdough toast. Service is swift and the food fresh and hot. Dhs36 (veggie sandwich). www.clintonstreetbaking.ae.
This food truck clearly specialises in falafel and for those craving the traditional Middle Eastern street food snack, it’s not a bad option. We find all the usual culprits on the menu – shawarmas, manakish and falafel, of course – and while we’re usually a sucker for their sandwiches, on this occasion we go for individual pieces, which are small, freshly prepared and moist, particularly when smothered in the accompanying tahini sauce. The fact that they offer a healthy quinoa tabbouleh without the customary drenching of lemon juice and olive oil (it comes on the side) is also a plus point. However, for such simple, signature snacks, we wait far too long. If they speed up the process, Operation Falafel will be a great Middle Eastern addition to the host of international food trucks – and a welcome healthy option. Dhs5 (four pieces of falafel), Dhs28 (quinoa tabbouleh), Dhs8 (bottle of Aquafina water). www.operationfalafel.com.
There are many things that can go wrong with a gourmet Mexican meal served from a food truck on a hot day by the side of a national highway: soggy tacos, over-cooked meat, runny hot sauce. However, Poco Loco has got all of its logistics right, steering away from any epicurean red flags. Arguably the best-looking drive-thru station among the dozen at Last Exit, this Latin American eatery has a no-nonsense menu of tacos, burritos and enchiladas. That’s it. The chicken tacos come in a set of three and take a good ten minutes to prepare and package. The soft-shell tacos hit all the right flavours, with an equal blend of spicy, sweet and sour. We order a side of chilli guacamole dip which, smeared onto the tacos, makes the meal a winner and ramps up the heat to a level that matches Dubai’s summer days. Dhs30 (tacos, Dhs5 for extra guacamole. Poco Loco food truck. www.pocoloco.ae.
We’ve all been there, lamenting the machine coffee we’ve been forced to get at a petrol station on a long drive to somewhere. Thankfully, high-end caffeine fixer The Brass has brought all its tricks of the trade to Last Exit, offering the full spectrum of the black stuff and at reasonable prices. The selection of sweet treats to accompany it is limited – muffins, cookies and brownies make up the offer – but the fresh fruit juices are spot on (try the watermelon). All in, it’s probably the best coffee you’ll ever get at a service station. Dhs96 (three coffees, three pastries and one juice). www.thebrass.ae.
We were interested to see how this popular Dubai Marina eatery would transfer to Last Exit. The answer is: it does so seamlessly. Having such a concise menu helps and the Angus beef version of The Mexican we order is delivered with minimum fuss and maximum taste. Juicy and packed full of flavour thanks to the addition of guacamole, salsa, jalapeño, sour cream, cheese and nachos, it’s a definite winner. The cheesy chips are spot on, too, and thanks to the stand being so close to the food court, it’s brought to our table within five minutes. Dhs42 (The Mexican hot dog and cheese fries). www.facebook.com/thehotdogstanddubai.
The name in itself is a bit befuddling, let alone the idea that lobster and shrimp can constitute fast food fit for four-wheel dining. But somehow, Urban Seafood’s truck pulls it off, with takeaway fusions such as fish tacos and surf and turf burgers. Out of these, the lobster and shrimp quesadillas stand out for their freshness (make sure you squeeze that complimentary slice of lemon) and zingy sauce. What Urban Seafood does lack in fast food cred is the speed at which the grub is dished up, taking about 20 minutes. Good things do come to those who wait, though, and this food truck is set to make a splash at Last Exit. Dhs38 (lobster and shrimp quesadilla with fries and a drink). www.facebook.com/urbanseafood. Open 24 hours. Last Exit, Sheikh Zayed Road (no number).