Remember when Fort Collins didn’t have food trucks? And that period of time when we had a few, but city regulations made it difficult for them to operate? Wow, have things changed in just a year. Now there are fewer restrictions and the number of food trucks has almost doubled. If you’re ever at a brewery here in town, you will pretty much always see a food truck parked right next to it. Our city may have been slow to the trend, but it’s finally taking root and we’re enjoying the savory rewards of that growth.
One food truck that you cannot miss – both in sight and flavor – is Common Link. They drive one of the most noticeable trucks in the city. It’s huge with bright bold colors of blue and green with a mural depicting a forest with gnomes. I would often see them driving down Riverside on my way to Cohere in the morning.
Husband and wife owners, Derrick Smith and Jessica Doerffel launched their food truck adventure this past January after having years of experience in the food industry. Just before setting up on Fort Collins, they had left their jobs at The Brown Palace Hotel and Elways in the Ritz Carlton in Denver. Now these CSU alumni are taking their dreams to the streets, serving up Belgian fries, unique sausages, and Poutine. Yes. Poutine.
Once The Husband discovered that they were serving poutine, a dish the North Dakotan guy loved, he wasn’t going to hesitate visiting often. A few years back we used to joke about all of the food trucks we’d open in an imaginary world, and a poutine cart was one of them (there’s no way on Earth we’re really ever going to open anything). We’d talk about making a killing at 2am in Old Town Square after the bars close. That’s pretty much exactly what Common Link is doing in Fort Collins – making a killing, but at reasonable hours. They are so popular they they continually sell out of menu items. So if you have plans to hit them up for lunch or dinner, you better get there early.
The Husband had been there close to 10 times before I made it there to start their review. I’d get reports on how much he loved their fries, and well – everything about them. I couldn’t wait any longer. I made an exception to my “no kids at a brewery” rule and we had dinner in Odell’s taproom.
The kids split a hot dog and chatted up everyone sitting around us. Which was hilarious, as they talked about drinking root beer. As far as hot dogs go, it’s a hot dog. Great for the kids, though. They do use all organic, local meats and products, so it’s not like you’re getting a Nathan’s frank.
The Husband ordered an Elk, cheddar and jalapeño brat and their traditional beef gravy poutine. He wolfed that down like it was his last meal. The poutine is made with Cozy Cow’s fresh cheese curds, and the gravy is just right – not too salty or runny.
I ordered the buffalo pastrami dip and 5 Barrel pork poutine with a pint of Odell’s Lugene chocolate milk stout.
I straight up giggled as I ate. Have you ever had food so good it made you giggle? Yeah, it doesn’t happen often, but it totally happened here. The buffalo pastrami dip was out of this world. It had a thick layer of spice crust on the slices of tender meat and the French roll soaked up the as jus like a sponge. It was so full of strong, incredibly delicious flavor. It could have been the best pastrami dip I’ve ever had.
The 5 Barrel pork poutine was just as good. It had super squeaky cheese curds that made you think there was a chew toy hidden in the fries somewhere. And the shredded pork on top? Holy hell. So tender, and just slightly salty. I couldn’t eat all of it and The Husband basically snagged it right out from under me.
We returned again for family dinner, but this time I didn’t want to be on mom patrol in a brewery so we got our dinner to-go to eat in City Park. We made the mistake of being there later just as they were selling out of everything.
The kids ordered the Mac n’ Cheese stuffed hot dog to split and a side of sea slat fries to share. I took a bite and loved the bold comfort-food flavors.
The Husband ordered the bacon and cheese brat with grilled peppers and onions, and a side of traditional gravy poutine. It came loaded with grilled vegetables. I asked if he wanted to split the poutine. He shot me down fast with an authoritative “NO.” Geez… Yeah, it’s that good.
I ordered the Elk, cheddar, and jalapeño brat and slathered it in house-made (truck-made?) spicy German mustard. The French roll was doughy and chewy, adding a great texture contrast to the firm, snappy, juicy brat. The brat was pretty mild in flavor – not really spicy from the jalapeño and it didn’t have a strong cheese taste, either. But man, was it good, especially with the mustard all over.
The poutine was very filling and not really a park food. So, after taking a few bites we decided to save it as leftovers. I later discovered the poutine actually makes for excellent leftovers. Who knew!!? The cheese curds melt a bit and the fries marinate in the gravy. Perfection on a plate!
Common Link rotates their menu often and there’s always something new to try. At the end of June, they’ll actually be serving full-service meals at The Mayor of Old Town in addition to running their truck. They’ve been serving burgers, pork belly sliders, fried pickles, seasoned popcorn and so much more than what’s on their standard menu. I’m sure they’re going to be even more creative in the Mayor’s kitchen.
It took a little bit of time for the food trucks to flourish in Fort Collins, but now that they have, we’re really lucky to grub on some amazing food. Long gone are the misconceptions about food trucks being “roach coaches.” Common Link is paving the way for gourmet brewery foods similar to what you’d find on the streets from L.A. trucks. It really can’t get any better than this.
locations vary, see their schedule for details
Kid Friendly? You bet! They’re even helpful enough to cut hot dogs and brats up for you.
Parking: They’re already in a parking lot, so just find a space!
Healthy Options? This is not really the epitome of “health” – no labeling, no vegetarian. You’re here for meat, potatoes, and cheese.
Budget Friendly? Everything is under $10
Recent Health Inspection: unknown (county site is broken)