Find LA Food Trucks Blog Blogging LA's twittering food truck scene

7Nov/101

First Friday 11/5: Slammin' Sliders, Che Truck and More

Yesterday at First Friday on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, I checked out several trucks I'd never tried before. My first course came from Slammin' Sliders, and my second from Cafe con Leche. Third in my belly was Chef Che's Argentine Cuisine. I then went back to one of my favorites, the KO Taco Truck, for a special pork sisig taco. Coming in last, but definitely not least, was New York Ice Connection.

Parking on Abbot Kinney gets crazy on First Friday. We were psyched to snag a spot right on the boulevard at Westminster Avenue. Across the street, we spotted Slammin' Sliders, and made a beeline for the truck. We got the Kobe beef sliders with cheddar ($6 for two). They were simple, no-frills burgers with nothing but cheese on King's Hawaiian sweet buns, and they were perfect. They're some of the best food-truck sliders I've tasted. We also ordered an orzo pasta opal basil salad - $1 got us a generous serving. This was a damn good pasta salad. The orzo was accompanied by tiny cubes of tomato and cucumber, as well as onion, and I tasted just the faintest hint of the opal basil (a darker-leaved variety of the herb) in the creamy pink mayonnaise dressing.

Kobe beef sliders and orzo salad at the Slammin' Sliders truck

Cafe Con Leche (sometimes also referred to by their Twitter account name, Cuban Cafe Mobile) was our next food-truck victim. We ordered from the Pastelitos (small pastries) section of the menu. Pastelitos can be sweet or savory, so we decided to choose one from column A and one from column B. On the savory side: a beef empanada (also $1.75). The pastry managed to be simultaneously thick and fluffy. The beef it enveloped was shredded, rather than ground. It came with a tiny cup of deliciously tart and spicy mayo for dipping. Nowhere was it specified that I had to restrict my dipping activities to pastry-only administration; therefore, I also dipped my fingers in the mayo several times.

On the sweet side: guayaba y queso ($1.75), a warm guava and cheese pastry that has a lot in common with a Danish. The guava and sweet cheese oozed out of the puff pastry, and I didn't feel even a little bit guilty for having dessert in the middle of my meal.

We also got one of the best cups of coffee I've had in a very, very long time. I must admit that I don't really like coffee: I know, blasphemy and heresy and all those things. This cafe con leche ($2.50), however, was mellow and sweet, with no trace of the metallic taste that so often characterizes coffee-drinking for me. Bonus: it was the perfect temperature to drink right away.

Onward we rallied, to the Che Truck, where we got El Mariachi, otherwise known as a chicken empanada ($3.50). I accidentally spilled chimichurri sauce all over it, making for a flavorful, if slightly soggy, pastry. The crust was a tad too thin for my taste: I tend to prefer it thicker and more robust. The chicken filling was also not quite to my taste: seasoning-wise, it had a lot of heat, but not much spice.

We also got an order of chimichurri fries ($2.50) - the large, flat steak fries soaked up the oil in the chimichurri, coating the fries with tiny, tasty pieces of parsley and garlic. The fries got very soggy after a while, which was OK because we were eating them immediately, but they wouldn't have lasted if we'd taken them to go.

And still onward we forged, though our bellies were getting ever fuller. My husband had heard that the KO truck was serving a pork sisig taco, named the Pacquiao in honor of Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer who's due to fight Antonio Margarito on November 13. (KO was also offering a Margarito taco - deep fried beans and cheese.) We squeezed our way into the jam-packed Brig parking lot, where Chef Chris Goossen told us he'd read a lot about pork sisig before devising his own take on the classic Filipino dish. The pork was chopped rather than shredded, making it juicier. The KO Truck is one of my husband's and my favorite mobile eateries, and this new menu item was just as tasty as their regular fare. Which sold out first - the Pacquiao or the Margarito? On this particular night, according to a tweet from the KO truck, Pacquiao took the title, but it was an extremely close fight.

I can't truly feel like my meal is finished until I have dessert (even if eating that guava pastry means I technically already had it), so our last stop was New York Ice Connection, where we got two Italian ices - one lemon and one chocolate. They have two sizes: "Skinny" ($3) and "Fatsy" ($4), or two Skinnies for $5, which is what we got. The ices sent our son into paroxysms of giggling insanity every time he took bites. If I wasn't an adult, and therefore required to maintain some semblance of propriety in public, I would have been cackling hysterically right along with him - these ices are that good. I was surprised that a chocolate Italian ice could taste as rich as regular ice cream. Plus their slogan is "The Best Friggin' Ices in New York," which is just plain awesome.

After the ices, we staggered back along Abbot Kinney, passing the Slammin' Sliders truck again. We lamented that our stomachs were too full to accommodate any more sliders - this was our favorite new truck of the night, and there were plenty more menu items we wanted to try. We found our car and shoe-horned ourselves into it. First Friday can get a little packed, both in terms of cars and of people, but it's one of the best events for sampling multiple trucks' cuisine. And if "sample" means "stuff oneself to the gills," then sample we did.

Slammin' Sliders truck

14Sep/100

Food Truck Festival for Heal the Bay Sep 25

On September 25th, you can help fundraise for Heal the Bay - just by eating your lunch! Latitude 33, a beachside condo community in Marina Del Rey, is throwing a benefit that begins at noon, right after Coastal Cleanup Day, and goes till 4 PM. Over 20 food trucks will be there, and 10% of their sales will go to Heal the Bay and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

Confirmed food trucks include: The Grilled Cheese Truck, Papas Tapas, Big Swirl, Frysmith, Del’s Lemonade, Vesuvio, India Jones, Crepe'n Around, Ahn Joo, Worldfare, Buttermilk Truck, Lake Street Creamery, Morsels Truck, Border Grill, Dosa Truck, The Sweets Truck, Dim Sum Truck, Organic Oasis, Dogtown Dogs, Slice Truck, Get Shaved, The Shrimp Pimp and Canters.

Latitude 33 is located at 330 Washington Blvd in Marina Del Rey.

Beyond O2 Water on Main Street in Santa Monica is also a proud sponsor of the event and is supplying water.

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.

12Aug/102

Grill 'Em All: Food Truck Racers

The Grill 'Em All Truck

Want to see seven trucks from around the US - well, 6 trucks from Cali and one from Texas - battle it out to see who can cook the best noms under pressure? You're in luck. "The Great Food Truck Race," a new reality show which is like "The Amazing Race" but with food and trucks (go figure), premiers on August 15 on the Food Network. Tyler Florence hosts the show, which features seven truck-riding teams: Austin Daily Press, based in - you guessed it - Austin; Crepes Bonaparte, from Fullerton, Orange County, California; Ragin' Cajun, another OC truck, from Hermosa Beach; Spencer on the Go, out of San Francisco; and three LA-area trucks - Nana Queen's, Nom Nom Truck, and my personal favorite, Grill 'Em All. The trucks and their crews race across the US, stopping in cities and scrambling to prepare the most delicious food they can, as fast as they can. The show's tagline is "There will be breakdowns." Of the truck variety - and of the emotional variety.

We caught up with Matt and Ryan from Grill 'Em All as they recovered from their "Great Food Truck Race" experience. Joel Brown is the third man on their truck (each "Race" team has three contestants). We tried to get them to give away juicy show spoilers, but to no avail.

Find LA Food Trucks: You’ve said you often work 16-18-hour days. Can you describe an average day in the life of the Grill 'Em All truck and its resident dudes?

Ryan: Wake up, get to the truck, see what prep we have to do, roll out, do service, prep more, maybe another service, prep more, then prep more. We are a really prep heavy truck, everything on the beast is made from scratch, no frozen or pre-made stuff.

Matt: A day in the life? More like "Welcome to our Nightmare." Let's see...wake up, prep, drive, serve, drive, prep, drive, serve, go home...drink away the stress.

FLAFT: The Dee Snider is an insane creation, with peanut butter, jelly, bacon and sriracha. Who came up with it, and was it a gamble for you to put it on the menu?

Ryan: I come up with all the burgs on the truck. Its simple, I love peanut butter and jelly. I love it so much that it's tattooed on my right arm, with a jug of milk on my left! It wasn’t much of a gamble, the flavors work, and they make for a really intense, amazing burger! Don’t be scared, try one...

Matt: Our resident burger genius is Ryan W. Harkins. He came up with the Dee and, no, it was not a gamble, because gambling does not always pay off, but eating burgers always does.

Matt, Ryan and Jeff outside their truck, "The Beast"

FLAFT: "The Great Food Truck Race," the Food Network show you’re taking part in, sounds a lot like "The Amazing Race." Did you guys (the three of you on the truck) fight because of the pressure of the competition, or did it bring you closer?

Ryan: Not really. The three of us have all been in touring bands before, so we know the stress of the road and we know each other so well we know what buttons not to push. We had an amazing time and made some really incredible friends out of this show!

Matt: I've always been a loner, a nomad, a stranger in the night. That said, I have never felt closer to two weird-looking men before. Blame it on the road or Bon Jovi songs, but, in the end, I feel like we've all been bonded by buns.

FLAFT: Did you get to mingle with the other food-truck teams on the road, and if so, who did you get along best with?

Ryan: We got along with everyone really well, we love all those guys. but especially the Austin Daily Press gang, those dudes were long-lost brothers and sisters! We even got ADP tattoos and they got Grill ‘Em All tats! Pretty rad!

Matt: Ready for a cliche? Well, here she is: after the dust settled, everyone was just so great. The kids from Austin Daily Press and the lovely gentlemen from Spencer on the Go will remain some of our best food truck buddies for years to come. Drinking beers on treadmills in random hotels across America? Ohhh, the priceless memories.

FLAFT: Give us a little sneak peek at one Truck Stop Challenge that was particularly memorable for you.

Ryan: I wish I could. They were tough, but it would give away the show!

Matt: The truck stop challenges were nothing short of nerve-wracking and annoying, but they could, truly, make or break a team. That said, I don't remember any of them.

FLAFT: There are basketball groupies, hockey groupies, police groupies – have you ever, uh, “encountered” any food truck groupies?

Matt: Groupies? Um, we sell really big burgers, dude. The taste is the best groupie because it sticks around.

Ryan: We get a lot of people who love our truck, and how could you not? I mean, it rules! We have loyal fans we dubbed "ghouls" (in honor of the late/great Ghoulardi [a Cleveland legend]) and we love our ghouls!

FLAFT: Do you have a Number One Fan? If so, describe him or her.

Ryan: Every customer is our #1 fan. We love everyone who comes to our truck and hopefully that love is reciprocated!

Matt: My mom, Barb, is my biggest fan. She came all the way to Los Angeles from Cleveland to eat our food AND she did our taxes.

Catch "The Great Food Truck Race" beginning Sunday, August 15 at 10pm/9c on the Food Network.

For those about to cook... we salute you

15Jul/101

LA Street Food Fest 2: July 24

LA Street Food Fest crowd at February's event

It's coming up soon - the second installment of the LA Street Food Fest. For round number 2, the Fest has moved from LA Center Studios to the Rose Bowl. This time, the good eats won't be marred by long lines and sold-out noms - there are only a few thousand presale tickets available, you can only purchase them online, and one price gets you all you can eat, rather than your having to wait - and then pay - at the trucks and carts once you get in. The event's also in the evening (from 5:30 to 9 PM), so there's less chance of frying in the hot sun, as queuers and eaters did at the last LA Street Food Fest in February. While you eat, you can watch a concert, vote in the Vendys-style cook-off, and hang out in the beer garden. Ooh, and the entry price includes free parking, a boon at any festival-type event.

Food truck-wise, all your favorites will be there: here's the complete list. Top three trucks I'm most excited about hitting: The Manila Machine, to try their lumpia (Filipino egg rolls); the Fox Pizza Bus, to get some wood-fired pie from a double-decker; and The Mighty Boba Truck, because I'm always up for some milk tea. Top three trucks I already love and will be hitting at the Fest: the Gastrobus, for their awesome daily specials like the plum juice they had recently; Louks, whose pitas I just cannot praise highly enough; and Coolhaus, because even though their free-ice-cream-sandwich days appear to be over for now, I will gladly pay full price for their balsamic fig and mascarpone ice cream.

Visit the LA Street Food Fest website for more information.

3Jun/101

Silverlake Jubilee: Crepe'n Around

Silverlake Jubilee

The Silverlake Jubilee took place on the weekend of May 22 and 23. Myra Street was closed down from Sunset Boulevard to Hoover Street, and vendors and people filled the road from 10AM to 10PM on Saturday and Sunday. There was juice you could drink straight from the coconut; serving bowls made out of old vinyl records; more hipsters than you could shake a stick at (I shook one at as many of them as I could manage); and a whole crapload of food trucks. I counted: Derbs (whose truck is tiny!), the Fatburger Fatmobile, Mrs. Beasley's, Nana Queen's, Barbie's Q, Fishlips Sushi, Uncle Lau's BBQ, Del's, Flying Pig, Louks, Dosa Truck, India Jones, Lomo Arigato, Vesuvio, TastyMeat, Slice Truck, Komodo, Buttermilk Truck, Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies, Dim Sum Truck, Frysmith, and Crepe'n Around. Phamish was there, despite having endured a nasty-sounding situation the previous week in which their truck had been taken hostage: they were using a temporary truck with a banner but no wrap.

Phamish's new temp truck

I'd been excited about visiting LA's two crepe trucks, so I was psyched to see Crepe'n Around at the Jubilee. After I set up camp (husband + toddler + stroller + bag + friends who also had all of the above) on the sidewalk next to the truck, I went to place my order. I chose a teriyaki hanger steak crepe ($6). It came in a red-and-white checked paper scoop tray, with the crepe folded over in a cone shape, like a sushi hand roll. Inside: seared hanger steak, pepper jack cheese, mixed greens, pickled onions, wonton crisps, and teriyaki sauce.

Crepe'n Around menu

The meat was juicy, but a little fatty and tough in places. It was coated very evenly with just the right amount of sauce - I was expecting the occasional teriyaki-heavy bite of meat, but none came. The greens and the wontons added a nice crunch. I have to say I didn't even notice the cheese's presence. Perhaps its flavor complemented the other ingredients so perfectly that it simply vanished into the crepe, or maybe the chef forgot to put it on. The crepe itself was the tiniest bit overdone, but I liked it; the very slight crispiness of the browned parts added a bit of nutty flavor. My beef (get it? get it?) with the overall package: a crepe seemed like too delicate a vehicle for such a hearty sandwich. The pieces of steak weren't what I'd call thinly cut, which made the whole package kind of chunky and unwieldy. Also, the teriyaki sauce soon soaked through the crepe. I got three quarters of the way through my meal, and then, as Chinua Achebe might say, things fell apart. Maybe if I'd been eating this dish on a plate with a knife and fork, my experience would have been different, but as hand-held street food, this didn't hold up very well. I think next time I'll try a more traditional savory crepe, like ham and brie.

Crepe 'N Around Truck

I couldn't resist getting a dessert crepe. While Nutella looked tempting, I asked the Crepe'n Around crew if they had any lemon juice on board: I just wanted plain old sugar and lemon ($4). They graciously obliged me. This crepe was perfectly done. It could have used a couple fewer squeezes of lemon juice, but it still absolutely hit the spot.

I appreciated the Jubilee's zero-waste effort. There was no water being sold in bottles - instead, there were a couple of water filling stations where you could bring your own bottle to replenish your H2O supply. At several points along the block-party route, there were bins in banks of three: one for trash, one for recycling, and one for composting. As ever, though, the occasional dumbass threw the wrong stuff into the wrong bin. I didn't see any event staff sorting the trash into its correct receptacles; I hope they did at some point.

Trash setup at the Silverlake Jubilee

I enjoyed the Jubilee. It was like a mini-Sunset Junction. Its acoustics astounded me: unless I stood right by the stage where the bands were playing (which, sadly, I'll have to wait to do until my kid is older and has hardier ears), I could barely hear the music at all. That meant I didn't need to shout myself hoarse or lip-read my friends to have a conversation. Excellent. The only time I was silent was when I was shoving crepes in my face, or inhaling nutella louks from - where else - Louks.

Photos by Oliver Seldman

11May/100

The Vendy Awards this Saturday 5/15

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

This Saturday, May 15, the Vendy Awards will be held in MacArthur Park. Six finalists will battle for the title of Best Street Food Vendor in LA. The finalists are: India Jones Chow Truck, Hot Dog Kings, Bigmista's BBQ, Nina's Foods, Grilled Cheese Truck, and Tacos el Galuzo.

Tickets are $50, which at first might seem a bit steep, but once you pay, you eat and drink for free. You're also helping raise money to protect vendors' rights - and your ticket's tax deductible. LA Street Food Fest is also offering a $5 discount if you buy your tickets today (5/11) or tomorrow (5/12): buy these discounted tickets using the code "tacotruck" online here for $45. This discount code is only valid from Tuesday 5/11 to Wednesday 5/12 at midnight PST.

Find out more about the Vendys at the official site.

7Apr/100

Dainty Cakes and Crepe'n Around at Pet Adoption Event Sat 4/10

This Saturday, April 10, from 11AM to 3:30PM, Much Love Animal Rescue will be holding a pet adoption event at Route 66 Riders in Marina del Rey. Two food trucks will be there: Dainty Cakes and Crepe'n Around. There'll also be a pet photographer and an ask-the-vet table with Dr. Heard from VCA Petville animal hospital in Venice. Come get a crepe and a cupcake, and give Boss Hogg, Melon, Currant, Ketchup or many more adorable dogs a forever home.

Find more information here.

23Mar/105

First Friday 3/5: Willoughby, Fresser's & Dim Sum

The first Friday of March fell on the 5th. My husband and I headed down to the monthly street festival on Venice's Abbot Kinney Blvd to get our food-truck fix. The Brig bar always hosts several trucks in its parking lot on First Fridays (and plenty of other days too): the Dim Sum truck had announced its intention to be there, and I was really excited to try it.

As we began the search for a parking spot, we saw the Flying Pig truck doing the same. Once we got over to the Brig, it was easy to see why the Pig was having trouble - food trucks ringed the Brig parking lot, with no room for any more to squeeze in. At 6:30 PM, half an hour after the official start of First Friday, the crowd was already beginning to pack the parking lot. If you weren't queuing, you were standing and eating, which created a problem I've seen before at multitruck gatherings: it was hard to tell where lines began, and if you stood too near a food truck for a couple of minutes, a queue would sometimes start to form behind you. The multitasking became overwhelming at times: I was eating, chatting, making sure I wasn't accidentally in line for a truck, moving out of the way for people coming to and from trucks, and attempting to corral a toddler who wouldn't eat anything except food other people had dropped on the ground.

Before its official launch on February 27, the Dim Sum Truck served goodies to the VIP area at last month's LA Street Food Fest. I hadn't tried it yet, so the truck was my first stop when I got to the Brig. I ordered bao, or baked BBQ pork buns (2 for $3). The bread was sweet, egg-glazed on top, with tangy shredded pork inside. The pork-to-bread ratio was, in mathematical terms, probably 1:2. In nomological terms? Perfect. Next I opted for the Peking duck taco. It needed a touch more hoisin sauce and a touch less fat. I like the method they use to take orders: there are paper menus with checkboxes out front of the truck, and they take your sheet of paper when you've checked what goodies you want.

Next up was Willoughby Road. Chefs Adrian Ochoa and Jeshua Garza went to high school together, then studied at the Cordon Bleu in Pasadena before paying their sous-chef dues under Ludo Lefebvre and Ming Tsai respectively. The Eagle Rock Farmers Market was where Ochoa and Garza first sold their BBQ with Asian- and African-influenced flavors; their truck has been on the road since January 11.

We got the brisket tacos ($7), which my food-hating toddler devoured. They came with cotija cheese and smoked tomato salsa. The brisket's marinated in harissa, which is Moroccan chili sauce. (My son was soon also marinated in harissa.) Our sides were creamy mac and cheese ($3), and black-eyed peas with dirty rice ($3). I am a devotee of Asian Soul Kitchen's BEP/rice combo, and I'm sorry to say that Willoughby Road's version did not quite measure up. It was already mixed, depriving me of the right to choose my own ratio of peas to rice (ratios again! I haven't done this much math since grade school). Willoughby's peas were cooked till they fell apart, whereas ASK's peas had a bit more bite to them. I prefer my peas firm. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

My husband had been chasing Fresser's for weeks; recent truck troubles meant they'd had to cancel a few scheduled stops. He got the hot pastrami sandwich ($9.25). I don't like pastrami; I tried a bite, however, and was pleasantly surprised by how juicy and lean it was. I was too stuffed to order anything of my own from Fresser's, but next time I'm going to have the pot roast sandwich ($9.25). This Yelp review makes me want to try the white chocolate coconut fudge, too.

25Feb/100

This weekend: Food Truck Block Party at Silverlake Art* Craft and Vintage Market

This weekend (February 27th and 28th), the Silverlake Art* Craft and Vintage Market is hosting its first monthly Food Truck Block Party. The market is held at Micheltorena Elementary School on the last Saturday and Sunday of every month from 10 AM to 4 PM. Barring rain, the lineup is as follows. The trucks will be arriving at the listed times and staying until around 4 PM.

Saturday, February 27th:
Slice Truck - 10:30
King Kone - 11:30
Grill 'Em All - 11:30
Willoughby Road - 11:00
Tasty Meat - 11:45
Don Chow Tacos - time TBA

Sunday, February 28th:
Yum Yum Bowls - 9:30
Buttermilk Truck - 10:00 (leaving 1:30 - being replaced by Asian Soul Kitchen)
Phamish - 10:00
Louks To Go - 11:00
LA BBQ Guy - 11:15
Del's - 12:00

Silverlake Art* Craft and Vintage is at 1511 Micheltorena St. (at Sunset Blvd), Los Angeles, CA 90026. For more information, visit silverlakeartcraftvintage.com.