Food trucks are a lot harder to track down these days than they once were. Rather than cruising the streets daily and using social media to attract their customers, many now confine their service to larger events. So when I decided I wanted to check out the offerings of three relatively new trucks, I had to hit a couple of major gatherings to find them. My first stop: First Friday.
Truck-U BBQ has gotten its fair share of media attention this year, thanks to an innovative concept (barbecue meets Mexican) and a popular local chef (Mike Minor). I was lucky enough to eat one of the first plates that came off the truck when it opened to the public, and I’ve snacked on a handful of dishes since then. But for the past month or so, Minor has been in L.A. lending a hand to his former Border Grill bosses Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. Nonetheless, I knew he wouldn’t miss First Friday, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The rockabilly-theme truck (decorated in part by tattoo artist and musician Dirk Vermin) was there, with Minor and his wife personally waiting on customers. My wife and I let Mike pick the menu, and he offered us a pair of delicious tacos. The slow-smoked short-rib variety was coated in a wonderful habanero barbecue sauce and topped with guacamole, salsa fresca and chipotle aioli. I was also very pleasantly surprised with the crispy cornflake fried chicken tacos, which came with charred corn relish and a delicious chipotle coleslaw. Unfortunately, after trying them on numerous occasions, I still can’t wrap my taste buds around the french fries topped with short ribs, blue cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, chipotle aioli and Oaxacan barbecue sauce. They’re a bit of a disaster, piling on far too much salt and then trying to compensate with a sweet sauce. Next time I’ll stick to an old favorite: the barbecue brisket burrito.
A few trucks away, we found my second target, StripChezze, a truck dedicated to all things cheesy. Most offerings come grilled, but there are also more interesting options such as a mac ’n’ cheese-stuffed eggroll with kimchi sauce, and cheese-coated bulgogi. The Hangover is a delicious take on sliders made on pretzel buns with pepperjack, beer cheese, onions and sausage. And the bacon jam on the Jam on It was a great addition to the Muenster and tomato, all on a Parmesan sourdough roll. Even the relatively simple three-cheese sandwich was yummy. Unfortunately, service was atrociously slow, despite relatively few customers.
I didn’t find the third truck I was seeking, a health food eatery called 50 Shades of Green at First Friday. But the next week I noticed on its Facebook page that it would be serving at the San Gennaro Feast. So I braved the crowds just to give it a try. If there’s one thing that does not put me in the mood for health food, it’s the scent of cheesesteaks, grilled sausage and funnel cakes. But I exercised some restraint and refrained from the junk food as I sought out the truck.
When I tracked it down, a large cup of the mildly spiced chili made with organic beef was almost good enough to distract me from the smell of grease in the air. And I absolutely loved the turkey panini: toasted, sweet whole-grain bread with a thin slice of sharp Havarti and a delicious light pesto sauce. Unfortunately, I found the quinoa salad utterly boring and devoid of flavor—the very thing carnivores dread when they hear the word “vegan.”
While my food truck experiences were generally positive, I think I’m through with meals on wheels for a while. I’m now looking forward to a week filled with waiters and tablecloths.