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17Jan/112

10 Most Reliably Delicious Food-Truck Menu Items

Sometimes I'm not in the mood to try a new truck; sometimes I want to eat food I already know I love. Other times, I hit the street in pursuit of a specific taste memory I want to relive. In these situations, I have a growing list of favorite menu items that I'm sure will be great every time. Here, in no particular order, are my 10 most reliably delicious food-truck dishes.

1. Bamwich, TastyMeat! ($8 for footlong, $6 for eight-inch version). Beef/lamb (hence "bam") shawarma wrapped in a pita, with romaine lettuce, roma tomato, red onion, tzatziki, red feta sauce and tahini. Shaved thin, the meat tastes like it's marinated in garlic, yogurt and vinegar, making it tangy and piquant. If you're a slow eater like me, get the eight-inch instead of the footlong - it's less likely to fall apart and unleash its innards into your lap.

2. Beef gyro, Louks To Go ($5). Beef, tzatziki, tomato, onion, and french fries all rolled up inside the best pita I've ever eaten. It's soft and tender, and you can taste the olive oil in it. Of all the meat options on the Louks truck, I've found the beef to be the most dependably delicious. This dish made me a raw-onion convert - I love their crunch and peppery bite in the sandwich, and I even love the crazy onion breath they give me, although I'm sure my friends and family aren't quite as enthused about that part.

Louks beef gyro

3. Lemongrass chicken or pork banh mi, Phamish ($6). Considering how often I visit the truck, it's ridiculous that I haven't yet reviewed Phamish. This Vietnamese sandwich comes with pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and jalapeno peppers on a baguette. I opt to leave off the garlic mayo. The lemongrass chicken and pork are intensely flavorful; while many friends of mine love Phamish's lemongrass tofu banh mi, I find the tofu soaks up a bit too much marinade for me - but it's still one of the tastiest veggie sandwich options in town. I tend to think the chicken and pork stand up better to the marinade's flavor onslaught, maintaining their own personalities. The bread is flat-out awesome - the outside's crunchy without being mouth-splintering, and the inside is pillowy soft. Of all the items on this list, this sandwich travels the best - it's the perfect to-go meal.

4. Crack chips, Chef Brian's Comfort Truck ($2). Oh, delicious deep-fried flour tortilla chips! Why are there only 6 of them in a serving? I've tried making these at home, but they never come out so gloriously golden. This is the only food-truck menu item I've brought home, eaten in five minutes flat, then considered driving all the way back to the truck immediately, just to get more.

Crack chips from Chef Brian's Comfort Truch

5. Balsamic fig and mascarpone ice cream, Coolhaus ($5). Hunks of fig dot this dense, subtly flavored ice cream. Coolhaus' thing is that you get the ice cream between two cookies, but I barely notice them when I'm eating ice cream this good. That said, oatmeal raisin cookies work really well with the flavors of fig and sweet cheese.

6. Mini meat pie ($3 for two), Kabob n' Roll. I like my meat pies doughy, not flaky, and as deep-fried as humanly possible. These small empanada-like meat pockets fit the bill. The ground beef inside is rich with gravy. The pastry melts in your mouth.

7. Butter chicken, India Jones ($7). These tender chunks of chicken breast come in a thick, creamy sauce with a side of basmati rice. It's an appropriately sized portion rather than a gargantuan mound of food - which means you'll have room in your stomach to order several other items from the India Jones menu - and it's been consistently good every time I've had it.

8. Holding the joint number 8 spot are: the carne asada taco from KO Tacos ($2.50), and the carne asada taco from Don Chow Tacos ($2).The KO taco's filled with super-juicy beef and tangy, crumbly cotija cheese. Don Chow hasn't been around my neck of the woods lately, and I've missed regularly nomming on their perfectly seasoned carne asada taco.

(Bottom) Carne asada taco from KO Taco Truck

9. A hot dog from The Greasy Wiener. When you have a hot-dog craving, the Greasy Wiener satisfies every time. You can go for the basics if you're in a no-frills mood: the Greasy Wiener's namesake dog has mustard, grilled onions, a dill pickle spear and one topping (we get sauerkraut). If you'd like a bit more 'zazz, go for a Berkowitz, a bacon-wrapped dog with chili and cheese. Your craving for a dog may lead to a burger jones - ours often do. If so, the Wiener has Iggys: two Angus beef sliders topped with American cheese on King's Hawaiian rolls. They're a no-fail burger solution.

10. Barbecued meat, Barbie's Q ($8 for a sampler plate). Whether it's pulled pork, barbecued beef, or smoked chicken, the meat on this truck is absolutely top-notch. A friend once skipped the sides (excellent collard greens, cheesy grits, and mac and cheese)  and ordered nothin' but a big old plate of meat from Barbie's - and that was his entire dinner. That's pretty much a ringing endorsement right there. Oh, and by the way? He ate that plate - and then he ordered another one, to go.

I considered adding some other menu items to this list, but I can't yet call them reliable: either I've only had them once, or I sampled them a second time, only to be ever so slightly disappointed. That said, I hope to be adding more dishes to the list very soon. One item I would love to include: the cheeseburger dumplings from Dim Sum Truck. I was so disappointed on the first Melrose Night when the truck sold out of them before I got a chance to order any. You will not thwart me twice, oh elusive dumplings! I may have only eaten you once, but, by God, I shall have you again!

What are your most reliably delicious food-truck picks? Post them in the comments, and we'll compile a reader-suggested list of favorites.

23Sep/100

Review: Kabob n' Roll

Kabob n' Roll Truck

Kabob n' Roll is one of my standby trucks. Sometimes I venture out to hit up some trucks, but I don't see anything new that looks good. In those situations, if Kabob n' Roll is around, I'll often get lunch or dinner from there, because the food is consistently delicious. I can't quite believe I haven't yet reviewed this truck, so here goes.

Kabob n' Roll Truck

Truck owners Wa'el and Chrissy hail from Egypt, and serve authentic Mediterranean food including falafel, lamb gyros, pita and baba ganoush. They've been on the road since January 29th, when they made their public debut at The Brig. The first time I visited Kabob n' Roll was outside that very same bar, during First Friday in Venice. My two-year-old son was going through a phase where he hardly ate anything, so I was desperate to find something he'd like. I got a chicken kabob plate ($8.50), which came with grilled vegetables, basmati rice, green salad, hummus, and pita bread. I also got a complimentary side of baba ganoush. To my surprise and delight, my son practically inhaled both the kabob plate and the baba ganoush. I did the same - the chicken was juicy, and the baba ghanoush deliciously creamy and more-ish.

There was still a bit more room in my stomach, and, I hoped, also in my son's, so I ordered triple cheese rolls and a mini meat pie ($5 when you order them together). It's hard to go wrong with a crispy tube of pastry filled with cheese; likewise with any kind of meat pocket, whether it's a Brazilian pastel, a Cornish pasty or a Mediterranean meat pie. Both the rolls and the pie were outstanding appetizers, even though I had them at the end of my meal instead of the beginning. My son devoured the rolls.

kabobmenu

Since that first First Friday, I've visited Kabob n' Roll several more times. Most recently, I had the lamb gyro pita ($6) and the feta caprese ($4.50), which were both on the Specials board. I can always count on the lamb gyro to be tasty. The feta caprese was good, but needed more dressing, and perhaps a bit more of a twist to the overall dish. Yes, the feta was exceptionally good, and the tomatoes were at their absolute pinnacle of ripeness, but that wasn't quite enough, especially considering the dish's price: maybe the tomatoes and feta needed a third ingredient to tie them together in a more interesting way.

Kabob n' Roll Lamb Gyro

Kabob n' Roll makes a point of putting seats, and sometimes tables too, outside the truck. I'm not sure why more trucks don't do this, because it's fantastic to be able to sit down in a chair and eat, rather than finding a spot on the street to pop a squat. I understand that alfresco eating is part of the charm of food trucks, and I like it too, but I don't think seating spoil the atmosphere. Kabob n' Roll uses portable plastic pails that make great stools when they're turned upside down.

Also, Kabob n' Roll often stations a friendly employee outside the truck - he or she takes orders and helps customers decide what menu items are going to make their bellies happiest that particular lunchtime or dinnertime. I feel like Kabob n' Roll really cares about making sure I love their food. That atmosphere - coupled with the platefuls of deliciousness they sell - makes me want to come back again and again.

Kabob n' Roll Caprese

Next: I want to try the baklava.

Photos by Oliver Seldman

30Aug/100

Food Trucks at Fairfax High Sep 18

UPDATE SEP 9: Munch LA has been cancelled. We'll let you know when it's been rescheduled.

This is a food truck event I'm super excited about, because I can walk to it! On September 18 from 11AM to 5PM, Munch LA is holding what it's describing as a "food and fashion extravaganza" at Fairfax High School, at the intersection of Fairfax and Melrose Avenues in Hollywood. There will be more than 30 trucks there, as well as fashion vendors like Hudson Jeans and Paige Premium Denim. Here's the list of trucks so far:

Ahn Joo, Baby's Badass Burgers, Big Swirl, Calbi, Crepe'n Around, Del’s, Dim Sum Truck, Don Chow Tacos, Dosa Truck, Dumpling Station, Phamish, Fishlips, Flying Pig, Frysmith, Greenz on Wheelz, The Greasy Wiener, India Jones, Kabob N Roll, Komodo, Lake Street Creamery, Let’s Be Frank, Louks, LudoTruck, Nana Queens, Slice Truck, South Philly Experience, The Sweets Truck, Tropical Shave Ice, Vesuvio, Vizzi, and Worldfare.

Tickets are $7 in advance, or $10 on the day. Get them at munchla.com, or at the door. And - even though I'm taking the heel-toe express - there's also free on-site parking.

I'm looking forward to sampling Dumpling Station's pan-fried pork and leek dumplings again - they were so amazingly juicy the last time, I've been thinking about them ever since. I also want to have another go at Ahn Joo's beef kimbap. Hopefully the Sweets Truck will have those cupcake-pudding shooters; whether they do or not, I'm still having myself some California Zephyr ice cream from Lake Street Creamery. Vanilla, Meyer lemon and fresh mint leaves - sounds delicious.

Find out more at Munch LA's Web site or follow them on Twitter.