LA Food Truck Critic

Tasting My Way Through LA's Food Scene, One Truck at a Time

Soup’s On! January 15, 2012

Looks like 2012 is starting off with a pop-up truck!  Frysmith is known for elevating fries to a whole ‘nutha level by including meats, cheese, veggies, etc.  They offer the standard chili and cheese (with a vegan twist), as well as the more exotic sweet potato fries topped with free-range chicken in a tomatillo-tamarind sauce with cheese and cashews.

They are converting their truck to a soup truck for one week only (locations on their website).  We’re not talking Campbell’s soup here people!  We’re talking hearty meal-type soups like Short Rib Soup with Israeli couscous & roasted cauliflower, Seafood Chowder with Curry and Sauternes or Butternut Soup with apples, chipotle & pumpkin seeds.  Omg, my mouth is watering already!  As you can see from their schedule next week, they are primarily outside of the West L.A. area (bah, humbug!) but you Valley folks are in luck!

I’m hoping this soup pop-up truck is a huge success and they bring it back often.  I’m also hoping other trucks take the hint and come up with their own pop-up truck.  C’mon gourmet food truck owners, let’s think outside of the box for 2012!  You can follow Frysmith/Soupsmith on Facebook or Twitter.  Oh, and one more thing, you couldn’t ask for better soup-eating weather this week – dig in!


Lobsticle Anyone? October 23, 2011

About a month ago, I headed over to a fairly new food truck lot in El Segundo (you can follow them on Twitter ElSegundoDDaGG) and ate at SlapFish truck.  I talked to one of the owners, Chef Andrew Gruel, and he told me that he was primarily an Orange County truck.  He’s got a cafe in Huntington Beach, hence, he’s able to get very good quality seafood and keep his costs down on the truck.  I also found out that Andrew attended one of the finest culinary schools in the country,  Johnson & Wales (shout out to my tiny little hometown of Providence, Rhode Island!).  Yet another reason for me to like Andrew and his truck.

More importantly, though, is the food that Andrew serves up.  He only uses sustainable seafood and if you don’t know that what means, you can read up by clicking here.  One of his more cheeky menu items is the title of this post – a lobsticle.  It’s a portable piece of lobster, more specifically a half of a pan-grilled lobster tail topped with chipotle aioli, vinaigrette and fresh chives, served on a skewer.  It’s served on top of their Virgin Slaw, which has just the right amount of spice to it, and pickled vegetables.

They also serve up fresh local oysters from Carlsbad, Hake and sea bream, as well as constantly offering mouth-watering specials such as Smoked Salmon on brioche topped with an egg or Shrimp & Lobster quesadilla.

Here’s the best news of all – Andrew now has a truck just for Los Angeles peeps!  So keep your eyes out for his truck and follow him on Twitter to find out where they’ll be next.  Fresh, sustainable seafood at an extremely reasonable price?  I’m in!


I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for … Peanut Butter! August 13, 2011

There’s a new truck out on the streets, The Pnut Butter Bar Truck, and it really takes me back to my childhood.  The owner,  Kharyn, has completely elevated the simple pb&j and taken it to a new level, and then some.  Yes, you can get a simple pb&j (grape, strawberry, boisenberry, blueberry and apricot) but you should really try a grilled peanut butter, Nutella and marshmallow fluff sandwich (Choconut on a Cloud).  Or perhaps you’d like an all-beef hot dog with applewood-smoked bacon, grilled onions and their peanut butter sweet chili mustard (Walking the Pig).  I tasted the mustard and it had a hint of peanut butter with a nice hit of spicy chili that lingered on the back of my tongue.

For me, their proudest moment comes in the form of something that is distantly related to a beignet.  It’s their Pnut Butter Puffs – pb&j or pb&Nutella deep-fried, topped with a drizzle of Hershey’s chocolate, whipped cream and powdered sugar.  I was lucky enough to get a free order by showing up after Kharyn had tweeted her current location.  I brought my son back and bought him an order because after I told him about dessert, he said, “that sounds really good”!

As more and more trucks make their way onto the streets, it’ll become increasingly important to set themselves apart from the herd.  There are lots of burger trucks, sandwich trucks, etc.  I predict this truck will be a big hit because it taps into a childhood food that brings back many fond memories.  This is a truck that the whole family will enjoy.  I am seriously thinking I may need to get this truck for my next birthday celebration.  Anyone for a Choconut Monkey?  Follow this truck on Twitter.


Here a Lot, There a Lot, Everywhere there’s a Food Truck Lot! July 4, 2011

The average person may not have noticed but there’s been a huge uptick in organized food truck lots.  Since it’s my job to keep you informed, let me tell you what I know.  In my mind, a successful food truck lot is one where you’ve got ample parking, a variety of cuisines and a lack of geographical competition.

The most recent food truck lot is in Culver City. The Culver City Food Truck Fest meets on the last Friday of each month at the Culver City High School.  The first one kicked off June 24th from 5-9 in the parking lot.  Normally, truck lots are free; this one had a suggested $2 donation, which went to Culver City High School, as well as the trucks donating 10% of their profits.  There were tables and chairs set out, so you could hang out with friends and family.  Also, since this event was organized by Go Country 105 Chuck Wagon, there was alot of good music and tickets were being handed out to a select few to the upcoming LeAnn Rimes concert.  There were 9 different trucks, covering a range of cuisines, including Da Munch Box (NY knish, pastrami & beef dogs), Auntie’s Fry Bread (Native American fry bread with savory or sweet toppings) and of course, Go Country 105 Chuck Wagon (BBQ beef, pulled pork & fried pickles).  Check out the next event on Friday, July 29th; some of the same trucks and some new ones!

The original First Friday started down on Abbot Kinney in Venice.  It was started by the local merchants to bring awareness to the street.  Unfortunately, it became so successful that the food trucks descended and before you knew it, there were over 50 trucks lining the street.  The local merchants got together and purchased a permit banning the trucks.  Enter Westchester!  The local merchants on 87th Street in Westchester (aka Business Triangle) saw a golden opportunity and grabbed it. 

 The event is hosted and organized by No Reservations Catering/Food Truck (hot wrap sandwiches), in conjunction with the Westchester merchant group.  It’s been running for about 5-6 months now and they typically have about 8-9 trucks on the first Friday of the month.  The merchants got together for First Friday in July and bought a city permit to close the street.  They also added a jazz band, a total of 13 trucks, and literally lined the street with tables and chairs, as well as 4th of July decorations.  The street is adjacent to a large free parking lot.  Since it was quite warm this past Friday, it looked like Tango Mango (Italian Ice) would be selling out pretty quickly!  Again, there were a variety of cuisines represented, including the ever popular The Grilled Cheese Truck (grilled cheese sandwiches, tater tots & tomato soup), as well as The Dumpling Station (dumplings & chocolate banana wontons).  The next first Friday is Friday, August 5th from 4-9pm.

There’s a new lot starting next Friday in Westwood, July 8th from 5-9pm; located at Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd.  It’s being organized by Da Munch Box and they may have it every Friday.  It’s called Munchin After Dark and their first line-up includes10 trucks so far, including Papas Tapas (Spanish), Sweet E’s Bake Shop (cupcakes & cake pops) and Frysmith (fries with meat & extras).  Since it hasn’t happened yet, I can’t say too much more about it but given that it’s at a church, I would think the parking is ample.  If they’re going to do it every week, I’m not sure how much business they’ll get on Friday the 15th, since that’s the beginning of the dreaded Carmageddon.

Finally, a word about a food truck lot that is no longer around.  Every Tuesday night, you could go to the Best Buy in Hawthorne (147th St) and find 6-7 trucks, tables and chairs, and plenty of free parking, organized by The Truck Chaser.  For some reason, the city of Hawthorne brought down the hammer and shut it down.  I don’t understand how that works, since they were on Best Buy’s property and if Best Buy didn’t have a problem with it, then why should the city of Hawthorne.  Several food truck owners tried to approach the City Council and were not even allowed to be heard!  I think that’s very short-sighted of the city, as well as a show of  bad manners.  A number of us that followed the event on Twitter have expressed our discontent.  Personally, the city of Hawthorne can forget about getting my consumer dollars and I know I’m not alone.  Food trucks are not a fad and they’re not going away anytime soon.  If anything, there’s been an ever-growing proliferation of trucks, as well as their integration into just about every festival or event.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of food truck lots.  Since I’m a Westchester resident, I focused on a few that are closer to me.  The list of food truck lots just keeps on growing – happy eating!


The Chosen Taco May 12, 2011

We all know that the Jews are the chosen people; I can say this because I’m Jewish!  I was looking for some inspiration for my next blogpost and I knew I’d found it with Takosher.   

Takosher is the ultimate culinary fusion food truck.  They are the first certified Glatt kosher taco truck in Los Angeles.  Their Brisketaco is absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever eaten on or off a truck.  There was so much brisket in this taco, that I easily shared it with my friend.  They also offer a Latketaco, Fujitas (tofu), Chosen Chicken and Carne Le Beef.  My friend & I had the sampler platter & had everything but the Fujitas.  We liked the Brisketaco & the Carne Le Beef the best.  It was served with beans & chips; everything was unbelievably flavorful.  It was so good that the woman sitting next to me went & bought a sampler plate after listening to us go on & on about the food!

They told me they’re mostly in the valley and sometimes Santa Monica but fortunately for me, they were at Westside Food Truck Central.  Oy vey, I hope they come back soon!  Who knew Jewish & Mexican food would make such a wonderful gastronomic marriage?

P.S.  I loved the “washing” station with the blessing posted.


A Truck with a Heart April 22, 2011

I know what you’re thinking – how can you show a picture of pastrami and title the post, a Truck with a Heart?  I’ll get to that in a minute.  Let’s get one thing straight – anytime pastrami is involved, good stuff is happening!  Da Munch Box is a fairly new truck and I went to Westside Food Truck Central to check them out.  I’d already checked out their website and was already drooling when I saw the pastrami.

I ordered Da Munch Box, which is a NY knish (flown in from NY), stuffed with pastrami, Swiss cheese, pickles and deli mustard.  If you don’t like getting messy when you eat, then this is probably not the sandwich for you.  However, you will be missing out on a GREAT sandwich.  They also have a Vienna dog with pastrami, and french fries with pastrami and cheese sauce.  Check out the rest of their menu.

Most trucks don’t pay much attention to dessert but Da Munch Box kicks it up into high gear with their Shorty Luv – a strawberry shortcake wrapped in an eggroll, fried and topped with strawberry sauce, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.  Oh, yes, they did!  A perfect ending to lunch. 

So, here’s where the “heart” comes in.  I spoke to Rocco, one of the owners, on my first visit.  They have a tip jar, as do most trucks.  Rocco asked me if I’d like to put something in the tip jar and told me that he donates his tips to Children’s Hospital.  He told me they saved his son’s life.  It gives me goose bumps just to think about it.  Rocco is not only making great food; he’s honoring his son every day he goes to work.  This truck is truly one with a big heart.


Food Truck Commandment March 27, 2011

Okay, so there’s no official tablets handed down from Mount Sinai but based on my experiences, here’s my first unofficial food truck commandment – Thou Shalt Honor Thy Customer.  What do I mean?  Well, let me give you an example of what happened this morning at the Playa Vista Spring Fling.

They had a number of different trucks including Buttermilk Truck, Papas Tapas Truck, Great Balls On Tires and Ludo Truck.  I was third in line to purchase 2 orders of pancakes from the Buttermilk Truck; it took 20 minutes to get my order.  The 2nd person in line got half their order & then another 7 minutes later, they got the other half.  Meanwhile, there were now about 25 people in line waiting to order from this truck.  I’m guessing they had a very long wait.

Now, contrast that experience with what was going on with Papas Tapas.  They were having some challenges that was delaying their food a little longer than usual.  Instead of making people stand there and wait, they offered to text them when their food was ready.  This way the customer could go order from another truck, run into Coffee Bean – you get the idea.

I also ordered some food from Ludo Truck.  They were able to hand me a fresh order of buttermilk chicken strips and a side of cole slaw in 5 minutes. 

So, what’s up with the Buttermilk Truck?  I’m not really sure.  The fact that their red velvet chocolate chip pancakes are to die for doesn’t excuse the inordinately long lag time at the start of the shift.

There’s a saying – First impressions make a lasting impression.  It was my first time eating at Ludo Truck; the food was served fast, fresh and delicious. So, I’ll be back as a repeat customer.  There’s another saying – Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.  If you don’t, someone else will take care of your customers.