From the window of a fire-engine red trolley, Danny Chamoff serves up a sizzling heap of smoky, cubed tri-tip on a grilled bun, topped with crunchy coleslaw and a zesty chipotle sauce.
This is Tips Tri-Tip Trolley, a new food truck stationed on West Napa Street in front of the Scooteria. Chamoff, the “lead tipster,” works as the right-hand man to Glen Ellen owners Susie and Andrew Pryfogle and manages a team that runs the trolley dinner service every Thursday through Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m.
Tips Tri-Tip Trolley is among more than 60 farmers and vendors who will be at the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers’ Market (most commonly known as the Tuesday night market) that resumes today, May 6.
The idea for the trolley came to the Pryfogles several years ago and they started serving up their popular sandwiches, or “tri-tip sandos,” at regional farmers markets and events. Susie Pryfogle wanted to use a trolley instead of the normal truck in homage to the vehicle’s importance to Bay Area culture.
Last year, they served tri-tip at the Tuesday market, sans the trolley, to build a following. Now, after just two weeks of being an up-and-running mobile restaurant, Tips will be at the market each week with its flashy red trolley.
Chamoff, who has a design background, said the trolley will also be getting a more complete look with the addition of a large artwork wrapped around the body. While the trolley is getting finished, Chamoff noted, it will be parked at its permitted station in front of the Scooteria. However, after that, the trolley will become more mobile and park in other places – outside city limits to avoid needing extra permits – on a varying basis.
Chamoff said the best way to find out where the trolley will be is to check out its up to date schedule on the restaurant’s website, tipstritip.com. In addition to dinner and market service, the trolley will also travel around for lunch service, and is available for events.
Menu items range from $3 to $11, Chamoff said, adding that prices had to be increased to account for the tax of being classified as a “mobile restaurant” since the trial run at last year’s market.
All of the trolley’s food is locally sourced from the Glen Ellen Village Market in a partnership with owner Barry Shone. The trolley’s staple meat, which begins with cubed and specially seasoned beef sirloin, is grilled on high heat for optimum flavor and succulence, Chamoff explained, in a technique perfected by owner Andrew Pryfogle. The team also dishes out smaller tri-tip portions on skewers, a vegetarian veggie bowl and a fusion bowl – the veggie bowl with tri-tip. A new item, which Chamoff said is “constantly selling out,” is the truck’s “tipster fries,” which consist of crisp sweet potato wedges that are best paired with the chipotle sauce. There is also grilled corn and “street corn,” a gourmet take on the traditional Mexican food cart snack, that features grilled corn dipped in a light chipotle sauce and rolled in a spicy cotija cheese with a bit of cilantro.
For sweet treats, the mobile restaurant offers Glen Ellen Star ice cream in prepackaged bites. “It’s the only place you can get this outside of the restaurant,” Chamoff said.
But Chamoff’s favorite item isn’t part of the official menu and will soon be known to only the most devout customers on the restaurant’s “secret” menu. In order to learn what it is, Chamoff said, customers need to sign up for the newsletter via Facebook or the website.
“We are really gearing toward being a gourmet food truck,” Chamoff said, noting he wants to hear feedback of what customers want as the trolley develops and expands its menu.
The popular evening market in the Plaza – known for transforming downtown Sonoma into a community celebration of local artisans and merchants – features a wide variety of local produce, foods and crafts and aims to highlight the diverse, “high quality agricultural products of the local community,” according to the market’s mission statement. Many market patrons set up picnics in the Plaza park and enjoy the weekly market entertainment. On the second Tuesday of June, July, August and September, Sonoma Valley Jazz Society will sponsor jazz performances in the Grinstead Ampitheater.
For its opening celebration, tonight the market will feature a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Jami Jamison Band will also perform from 6 to 8 p.m.
The evening farmers market runs from 5:30 to dusk through Oct. 28 in the Plaza park. For details, visit vomcfm.com.