I’m familiar with the food truck concept. We called them ‘roach coaches’ in high school. It was never gourmet… in fact, I remember vividly the very last purchase I made with a roach coach back in 2008. It was because there was mold all over my salsa. Period. End of food truck sentence. Gross.
Then we watched this fascinating show on the Food Network. The Great Food Truck Race. Featuring gourmet food served out of brightly colored boxy trucks. I’m listening…
There were several trucks to start and week by week, they eliminated the truck that didn’t make the most money or who couldn’t perform a specific culinary task. The last two trucks to compete both came from Los Angeles. The Nom Nom truck and the Grill ‘em All truck. Pretty cool. The show was a mix of business plan, awesome food idea/theme/branding, good marketing, being at the right place at the right time and great food.
I thought we may accidentally come across a truck while in LA… but I wasn’t going to hunt them down. I mean, come on… who does that?
Then, one Sunday, after dropping off DH at a 3 hour class in Hollywood, I made an illegal U-turn when I saw the Grill ‘em All truck parked on Melrose Avenue.
I had Meg and my Mom’s dog Barkley with me. This made getting out of the car, getting a burger and trying to eat this burger on Melrose Avenue a bit difficult. There were dogs and leashes everywhere. Those gathering for a burger gave the pups lots of love and attention, though, so I was able to enjoy my “Hannah Montana” burger, the plainest one on the menu (and I got a bit of a side eye and mocking tone when I ordered it), while leaning up against a wall, flamingo style.
After consuming my incredi-burger. I was now hooked and willing to chase these things. I had caught the food truck bug, sans roach sentiment.
To make my treasure hunt easier, there’s a food truck app called TruxMap. So you know when and where to get your next truck fix.
Our first true food truck adventure started with a food truck party on Tuesday nights at Figueroa Produce in Highland park.
The parking lot at Fig Produce was hopping with brightly colored food trucks and tons of people, kids and dogs. Fellow foodies were sitting on parking blocks, curbs, leaning against cars and standing… all eating small portions of food on sticks, in little paper bowls and tiny plates. Everyone was smiling, too. Some of the trucks had large flat panel TV’s blaring salsa music or showing a basketball game. It was like a mini food Las Vegas… in a parking lot.
That night, DH and I each had another Grill ‘em All burger, shared a smoothie and two bottles of water. Almost $40. We missed getting a waffle a la mode from Waffles De Liege, but a fellow foodie in line for a burger offered me a bite of his. After a few moments of hesitation, and wondering why this lovely person would part with some of his treasure, I ate a chunk of waffle off of a stranger’s plate. Why I just admitted that, I am not sure. Maybe it was because it was the best waffle I’ve ever had. EVER. Perfect texture with a sugary crunch layer, smothered in chocolate, nutella and perfectly ripe sliced strawberries. Angels sang. Well… maybe they hummed a little, but there was music from the heavens in any case. (Little did I know, I would enjoy my very own waffle two weeks later in Pasadena, see below.) But at that moment, Jose the waffle bearer was my new best friend. Jose is a carpenter on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, too. His generosity will not be forgotten.
After this magical experience, I dragged my Mom to a food truck gathering at Jones Coffee Roasters in Pasadena.
Mom and I shared some Asian/Mexican fusion tacos and our very own Waffles De Liege waffle. Behold… the waffle:
The perfect waffle; a scoop of Fossleman’s vanilla ice cream, bananas, pecans, nutella and caramel. Yes. We did. And it was $11. Worth every cent. Although, we couldn’t finish the darn thing.
I think the most interesting truck was the Phydough truck. They sell only gourmet organic dog cookies. For dogs. Not human consumption. People walking up to the truck were mocking the concept, but I couldn’t resist. $12.00 later, I walked away with 8 dog cookies. Two of each… peanut butter & bacon, duck fat, apple oatmeal and pumpkin . The truck was lined with AstroTurf, they had a doggie mascot inside, I paid using a snazzy new ipad credit card thingy and the owner was delightful. What’s not to love? ;)
Our third trip to a food truck gathering was at the Chef’s Center on San Gabriel Blvd in Pasadena.
On this visit, we tried the lemongrass chicken tacos from the Nom Nom truck, our friends had the banh mi sandwiches and then we got in the monstrous line for the Cool Haus truck, the much talked-about ice cream sandwich experience.
See where the truck is? I took the picture after being in line 5 minutes. Yes. That was my place in line… that long winding line.
As if the ice cream gods were laughing at us, as we inched our way to the front of the line, the popular flavors of ice cream were being crossed off the menu. Each time the super tall guy (watching him bend down 2 or 3 feet to get to the ordering window was a hoot) serving up the goods took a pause to remove a flavor, the line got silent, and many audible “NOoooo!”‘s could be heard all around us as a flavor departed into ice cream heaven.
I had my first, second and third choices picked, fingers crossed. But when I got to be the 2nd person in line, my 3rd choice was the only one available, and the lady in line in front of me got the last bit of it. So, seconds away from my turn, and 25ish minutes after I got in that line, I pouted out of line like a four year old not getting her pick of carousel pony.
I wasn’t interested in the beer and pretzel, mascarpone & fig, pineapple mint sorbet or earl gray sorbet flavors. I may have tried the earl gray sorbet on its own (given a different day and attitude), but I was on a mission to try the complete ice cream sandwich package that they’d been bragging about. I made the mistake of angrily shouting “sorbet has no place in an ice cream sandwich!” I wasn’t going to bend, even though I was now branded the ice cream line jerk. So, Cool Haus… you get a big wag of the finger on this one. Uncool. (But of course I’ll try again some other time).
We had other random food truck encounters…
NaanStop in West LA… best Chicken Tikka!
Just up the street in La Crescenta… NomNom for the 3rd time
And our last encounter was tracking down the Grill ‘em All truck one last time, and introduced my Mom to their burgers… She had the Blue Cheer…
Nathan had the Behemoth… which has grilled cheese sandwiches for BUNS….
But I stuck with my simple Hannah Montana… ketchup only… burger… again.
We listened to the planes take off from the nearby Burbank Airport and sat on the curb, surrounded by a dozen Yahoo badge-wearing employees standing and sitting under trees on the corner of a semi-busy street. Everyone was discussing their burger choices. It was a happy burger gathering.
I could totally get used to this. Is Yahoo hiring?