The buzz around Portland’s growing food truck and cart fleet continues to get louder and louder. Everyone in the Greater Portland area is taking notice of the fleet’s many offerings. This week, I took a trip to Falmouth to catch up with the Mainely Burgers crew as they cranked out burgers at a Falmouth High School event.
As the name implies, Mainely Burgers serves up a variety of burgers ranging from classic to wildly creative. Brothers and co-owners, Jack and Max Barber, operate Mainely Burgers with a deep love of food, and knowledge of the food service industry. Growing up, not only was their family 50-year veterans in the food industry, but the act of cooking was a family event in their house. Each family member was responsible for creating one dinner menu each week, and would then spend time in the kitchen together making the menus a reality. Summer cookouts turned into competitions with them and their friends trying to outdo each other with the next great burger. Who could come up with the most unique creation? Whose burger would wow the others?
Their move into the food industry was a natural one, but still being college students, a traditional brick and mortar restaurant wasn’t their ideal plan. In fact, the Barbers say that investors seemed far more keen to jump on board with a food truck, than a traditional brick and mortar restaurant. After attending school in Boston, Jack became enamored with Boston’s booming food truck scene and set out to help grow Portland’s own food truck fleet.
While the endeavor was a natural one, it wasn’t exactly easy. Portland’s food truck industry is still in its infancy stage, which made obtaining an operating license and permit tricky. Even with the proper paperwork, the brothers still have to worry about Maine’s erratic weather. No one wants to wait in line in a thunder and lightning snowstorm for burgers, so they make sure to check every weather website known to man before preparing for the next day. The more urgent issue, though, isn’t weather and permitting, according to Jack and Max. Instead, the Mainely Burgers crew must fight the daily struggle of not having a bathroom on board. They constantly find themselves scouting out the nearest bathroom when setting up shop.
So the burning question is: Can they make a burger? We’re pleased to report that the answer is a resounding “yes!” We tried two of their menu staples on our Sunday visit.
First up, The Beast. Topped with sautéed onions, thick cut bacon, pickles and BBQ sauce, this burger truly lived up to its name. We took it a step further and added sautéed mushrooms to take this burger to the next level.
Second, The Mainah. Every burger has the option of being made with a beef, chicken or veggie burger. For the Mainah, which is topped with sautéed onions, thick cut bacon, sliced green apples and maple mayo, I opted for chicken and was not disappointed. I am seriously thinking about asking the guys to drive to my house daily so I can have this for lunch every day. I have been dreaming about the bacon they use for the past two days, wondering where I can get my hands on some. The hand-cut fries were also impressive.
Often, I stay away from hand-cut fries, much to the frustration of my fellow diners. They always seem to be saturated in grease and lacking the crisp factor that I need in a fry, but Jack and Max have found a way to remedy both of these common fry pitfalls. The fries were crispy, grease-free and a perfect accompaniment to the burgers.
Beyond serving up just plain awesome burgers, the truck has a great vibe. Both Max and Jack are college students, and they employ college and high school students with fun energy and ample amounts of creativity. It’s the perfect environment for coming up with and testing out new ideas.
So, are we going to be seeing these two burger gurus and their crew around town? Definitely. Mainely Burgers has been thrilled to see the Portland community embrace the growing food truck scene, and while finding a permanent spot has been hard, there are talks about a food truck market being a possibility. In the meantime, you can track the location of the Mainely Burgers truck on Facebook and on Twitter.