Marfa and the Food Shark

“The Food Shark is coming! The Food Shark is coming!” someone cried.

The crowd, which had been congenially gathered in the Marfa Book Co., stampeded toward the door. I didn’t know whether to duck-and-cover or to elbow my way to the center of the crowd.

For years Marfa had been a sleepy little Texan town whose only claim to fame was its mystery lights—little flickering lights that appeared in the distant hills if you stopped at a certain place on the highway. It was said that no one had ever explained their origin.  Then I heard that Marfa had reinvented itself as an artists’ colony, which had proven to be a bigger draw than a some wavery lights and the alien-chasers they attract.

Unfortunately, Marfa was closed up tighter than a drum on the Saturday I drove through. This was too bad for me, but it was even more disappointing for the busload of European tourists that had overrun the place. Pairs of nattily dressed young people wandered through Marfa’s chill and empty streets disconsolately snapping pictures at every imaginable camera angle. Had the tour group billed this as a taste of cowboy country, and then gone off for a smoke somewhere?

The atmosphere livened up considerably, however, after our Paul Revere had heralded the arrival of the Food Shark. I sprinted with the crowd to the town square where a vintage bus was parked and a sizable line was already forming in front of a truck-turned-diner.

The Food Shark is the brainchild of Adam Bork, who keeps the vehicles in good repair and mans the window, and Krista Steinhauer, who does the cooking. Food Shark cuisine is Middle Eastern (do NOT miss the Marfalafel) with occasional forays into other regions.

Four years ago, after some existential rambling, Krista and Adam were casting about for a job, when they saw the truck for sale. I don’t know if this was a Eureka! moment, but things started happening pretty fast from there.

Andy serves up Marfalafel

The Food Shark name “just popped into my head,” says Adam and the decision to serve Middle Eastern food was similarly unplanned. “Texas and the Middle East–two dry, desert climates,” says Krista.

Now in its fourth year of operation, the Food Shark has been featured in every A-list publication on the planet: Food and Wine, Bon Apetit, USA Today, CNN, National Geographic, along with many B-listers. Partly, it has to do with a really good product, and partly with the unique packaging. “There’s only one Food Shark,” says Adam.

the Food Shark menu

Adam and Krista take this success in stride. They work hard; they pay the bills, but “we don’t make a ton of money.” They’re not too interested in expanding, and they like “not worrying about whatever people with bosses worry about.

“We have enough to pay our mortgages, and to take a trip once a year. Maybe we could find a better way to do things, but this seems to be working out.”

inside the bus

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4 Responses to Marfa and the Food Shark

  1. Ara & Spirit 30 December, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    What a shame we are in Tucson awaiting hernia surgery!!!… would have been a pleasure to meet you and offer you some land to stay on. I was at their wedding a few days ago… great times.
    Enjoy the area… Big Bend Park… all is so magical.
    Be well… Ara & Spirit

  2. Kate 29 December, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Super fun encounter. And the falafel was really good. Yet another stop on your Texas tour.

  3. Marcia Davis 29 December, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    I love the Food Shark dining car! And the connection between desert dry Texas and the Middle East. Sounds yummy!