Tasty Eats on Billings' Streets
A look at the Magic City's Mobile Dining
By Stella Fong, Photography by Daniel Sullivan
Take a look at the streets of Billings in the summertime and you’re sure to see that food trucks have geared up and shifted the food options here in Billings. The trucks come in all colors and sizes and the aromas waft down the block inviting the flavors of barbecue, Cajun spice and even a taste of Laotian. We decided with the flavors and variety, these trucks should be a target of Yellowstone Valley Woman Magazine’s Tastings Team. On a sunny Monday in June, we convinced Khanthaly’s Eggrolls, Cajun Phatty’s and Big Guy BBQ to park their shops on Montana Avenue in front of the Billings Depot for lunch.
MEET THE TASTINGS TEAM
Marlo Hix-Spreng is Executive Chef at Walker’s American Grill and Tapas Bar. Hix-Spreng’s son Grayden helped his mom with each dish served.
Marci Raihl currently works at State Farm Insurance, retired from sales at Intermountain Food Brokerage and Simply Wine.
Marcella Tatarka can be found at St. Vincent Hospital as a neonatal nurse after retiring from her business, Beyond Basil Catering.
THE TASTINGS TARGETS
Khanthaly’s Eggrolls owner, Khanthaly Keutia shares, “I was the first woman to own a food truck here in Billings.” She has been in the business for almost three decades. Keutia took to the road after she closed the Laotian restaurant she owned with her husband, Sisavath, located at the corner of Grand Avenue and 13th Street West. These days, she continues to serve her popular Fried Noodles, Eggrolls and Fried Rice at the Yellowstone Farmer’s Market and weekly at the TransWestern Building parking lot. On this day, her son Tobee was at Khanthaly’s side cooking and serving.
Big Guy BBQ began serving food in the Bakken in North Dakota. “We had no intention to start in Billings,” co-owner Mary Beth Beaulieu says. The uncertain boomtown culture persuaded them to return to Laurel. These days, they can be found serving food at Thirsty Street Brewing Company in downtown Billings, at Canyon Creek Brewing on the West End, and at High Plains Brewing in Laurel. Ray, Mary Beth’s husband and partner, studied with world BBQ champion Fast Eddie in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ashley Robichaux, owner of Cajun Phatty’s, shares food inspired from her childhood in Louisiana’s low country. Ten years ago, Robichaux was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Relocating to Montana where the air is drier and alternative therapies are available, her symptoms retracted allowing her to utilize her restaurant experience of two decades. These days, she drives a food trailer with colorful crawfish and alligator graffiti art. On many nights, she can be found parked at Canyon Creek Brewing.
“It is nice and flaky.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“The crust is perfect.” ~ Marci Raihl
“I really like the dipping sauce, it is not too heavy. The roll goes really well with the sauce.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
Chicken & Rice
“I like it. There is a little hint of sweet.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“The chicken is nice and moist. I love the fresh vegetables.” ~ Marci Raihl
“Juicy and tasty.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
“I like the textural contrast.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“Perfectly cooked. The noodles are light and flavorful. I like the contrast with the greens.” ~ Marci Raihl
BIG GUY BBQ
"The pork is not over sauced.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“I like that the pork is not to ‘shreddy.’ There are good chunks of meat. It is not too mushy.” ~
“The meat is tender and flavorful.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
Big Guy’s Signature Ribs
“I like the rub. I like the dry rub because it makes a nice crust.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“I like the crust. It is a nice dry crust. The meat is still really juicy. The ribs are kick-ass.” ~ Marci Raihl
“I love the concentrated flavors. Sweet and tangy.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
“I like how the rub on the brisket is different from the ribs. They are not using the same seasoning for their meats.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“The meat is tender.” ~ Marci Raihl
“The sauce is really good.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
Fried Alligator with Signature Phatty’s Sauce
“Tastes like chicken but more tender. The breading is not heavy.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“The meat is juicy and tender. The breading has great flavor so I do not feel it has to be dipped but the dill sauce is delicious.” ~ Marci Raihl
“Perfectly cooked.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
Jumbo Gulf Shrimp Tacos
“The tortilla is nicely toasted.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“The dill sauce is a good accompaniment. I like the salad.” ~ Marci Raihl
“The shrimp is fried nicely. I like the lightness of the salad with the taco.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
“This is a filling dish.” ~ Marcella Tatarka
“Comforting. Good tomato taste.” ~ Marci Raihl
“Tender. Juicy. ‘Tomato-y’. The pork is tender without being dry.” ~ Marlo Hix-Spreng
TASTING TEAM FAVORITES
Marcella Tatarka: Eggroll from Khanthaly’s Eggrolls and Fried Alligator from Cajun Phatty’s
Marci Raihl: Big Guy’s Signature Ribs
Marlo Hix-Spreng: Eggroll from Khanthaly’s Eggrolls and Fried Alligator from Cajun Phatty’s
WHERE TO FIND THE TASTING TARGETS
BIG GUY BBQ, Ray and Mary Beth Beaulieu
FOOD TRUCK: 406.671.2691
KHANTHALY’S EGGROLLS, Khanthaly Keutia
FOOD TRUCK: 406.671.5027
Want to know how to track down these mobile eats? Simply visit billingsfoodtrucktracker.com to see a map of all the offerings. That’s also where you’ll find a link to their Facebook page that is updated throughout the day.