Sweet has trumped savory.
Pin-Up Pastries squeaked by The Twisted Tandoor to claim the Arizona Daily Star’s inaugural Food Truck Madness title.
When all the ballots were counted, just 70 votes separated the two.
The tight race wasn’t a big surprise to Tracey Nahrwold, who runs Pin-Up with Tracy Santa Cruz.
“We were nervous (last) week because Twisted Tandoor is our favorite, and we knew there would be some competition,” Nahrwold says. “We have a lot of the same customers and many told us it was a tough decision.”
Santa Cruz, who started Pin-Up, just sort of cruised into the rolling-food business.
“An acquaintance of mine had a food truck in Phoenix and I was just sitting there one day and said, ‘OK, I think I’m going to do it.’ It was a close-your-eyes-and-do-it moment.”
That was in 2011. She knew it was the right decision after her first food-truck roundup.
“The response was huge, and that was it,” she says.
Nahrwold joined Santa Cruz in 2012 and the two have barely had a break since.
They load up the truck with sweets five to six days a week. Though they often switch up the selections, there are a few menu mainstays.
“There are a couple of things that are on the truck all the time,” Nahrwold says. “The maple bacon cupcakes — people would hang us if they weren’t on the truck — and the whoopie pies.”
They plan to come up with a way to thank their fans.
“We are thinking about what we will do for the fans who have supported us through this competition,” Nahrwold says. “We’re going to come up with some way to reward them.”
The win was a hard-fought one, with constant posts on its popular Facebook page urging fans to vote for them, as well as reminders as they dished out sweets to their customers.
So you can’t blame them if they give themselves a break.
“We’re taking a few days off so we can recoup, relax and give our Facebook followers a break,” Nahrwold says.
The Twisted Tandoor has already taken a few days off — owner Mukhi Singh says his parents were visiting from India last week, and he spent his time with them rather than drumming up votes.
And while he would have loved to win, he can’t complain.
“We were all winners,” he says, speaking of the food truck community.
Besides, he’s as big a fan of Pin-Up as Pin-Up is of Twisted Tandoor.
“They work their butts off,” he says of Santa Cruz and Nahrwold. “They have a beautiful product and they deserve the recognition.”
Singh started his food truck about 2½ years ago, cooking up delectables from his native India.
He, like Pin-Up, mixes up the offerings, but there are a few mainstays customers insist on: The chicken tikka masala and the samosa.
“Tucson is a kind, kind city, and they’ve given us an opportunity that’s totally beyond our belief,” Singh says. “We are so grateful for the support and loyalty. It’s something we never take lightly.”
While he would have loved to win, he’s not going to quit trying to woo fans.
“Now we know Tucson is a sweet town,” he says. “Now it’s up to us to make it a spicier town.”