There's an Eatbox buzz, and it's small wonder, really. Since the food truck began turning out cheap but creative — and really good — breakfast this fall in the parking lot of the Admiral, it's been a go-to spot for West Ashevilleans seeking early morning grab-and-go.
But apparently there's a shortage of West Asheville-dwelling early birds, according to Eatbox cook Paul Wilson. The Canadian-born cook operates the truck for owners Meg Alt and Shawna Hendrix and, although he previously began serving breakfast at 7 a.m., he now opens the food truck at 8 a.m., Monday through Friday. "No one in West Asheville is moving before then," he laughs. For the latest risers, Wilson offers a small lunch menu, many of the items available at the crack of dawn along with the eggier fare.
In the past, Eatbox has primarily focused on the festival circuit — Bonaroo, for example — and occasionally on the late-night crowd in various locations, but scratch-made breakfast with fast-food timing is a market just begging to be tapped in West Asheville, says Wilson. And so far, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. "It's a good change," he says. "We've still got the basics of breakfast, the Southern stuff, but it's got a little flair to it."
Breakfast includes a number of $4 items: French toast with local challah bread and real maple syrup, biscuits and gravy with red potatoes and a classic breakfast with two eggs, fried potatoes and toast. The most popular items include the tacos heuvos with fried eggs, black beans, queso and salsa, cilantro lime crema and avocado, stuffed in corn tortillas from Mr. Suave, a tortilla-maker on Patton Avenue. The breakfast burritos are also immensely popular, as is the "farmer's benedict," a fresh biscuit topped with fried eggs, cheddar, Hickory Nut Gap sausage and gravy. "Everyone likes that one, especially the guys," says Wilson.
Wilson has many years of culinary experience under his belt, most recently at Desoto Lounge in West Asheville and at the Westville Pub, a gig he just left behind to operate Eatbox during the day. In Canada, he owned and operated a pita shop called Ruby's. "It had a lot of similarities to what I'm doing here," he says. "All fresh stuff — I was doing falafels and making all of my own sauces," he says — though he now leaves the falafel to Suzy Phillips at Gypsy Queen Cuisine.
Wilson says that Eatbox may move downtown eventually, but the rules for obtaining a permit are daunting. "It's such a hard thing right now — I know the rules have changed and the laws have changed, but there's nobody down there yet." For now, Wilson says, many of the food-truck vendors tend to congregate on Haywood Road, where a bit of a mutually beneficial mobile-food vending community has sprung up. "We really like it in West Asheville," Wilson says. "It's close to home, at least for us." The next step, he says, is finding another spot on the west side to vend at night, when The Admiral is open — and soon, Eatbox will be taking over Jeremy Hardcastle’s vending spot in the Admiral lot during the Saturday dance parties.
The Eatbox food truck can be found at The Admiral (400 Haywood Road) for breakfast and lunch until 2 p.m. on weekdays. Keep up with Eatbox on the truck’s Facebook page.