The Truck Stops Here

Food Trucks 008During the lunch hour, I always see at least ten to twenty food trucks parked along Wilshire Boulevard between Fairfax and Hauser. I wanted to learn more about the neighborhood’s fascination with this dining alternative, so I spent the an afternoon talking to the chefs and managers of the culinary creations on wheels and the patrons who frequent them.

First thing you notice is how colorful and eye-catching some trucks are, creating teir own ambience without a dining room. You don’t have to make a reservation to dine, and many trucks have short or no lines. The food trucks are convenient for working people who have a limited amount of time for lunch.

They are a less costly way for chefs to start their own business. Culinary entrepreneurs may not have the capital to open a storefront restaurant. It’s a great way to introduce creative, satisfying dishes and market products to the public.

The first truck that caught my eye was an artistic promotional truck for Jarritos. An attractive young lady was handing out bottles of the fruit-flavored Mexican soda. “It’s the best-selling soda in Mexico,” she said. “We use natural sugar. There is no high-fructose corn syrup.” People were happily grabbing a bottle or two after grabbing lunch from various trucks.

Food Trucks 005Next to Jarritos was the MexiKosher truck, known for their Monday Night Burger made with beef brisket, short ribs, ground beef, bacon and topped with a fried egg. The beef is cooked all night, and the onions are grilled in duck fat. I talked to customer Mike C. who ordered one of these $8 burgers. He lives in Encino, yet works on Wilshire Boulevard.

“The local burger restaurants around here have no innovation,” said the self-proclaimed burger connoisseur. If he wants a sit-down restaurant, he prefers Umami Burger at The Grove. “I won’t go to Johnny Rockets, it’s too corporate [cookie-cutter],” he said. “Trucks have more freedom to cook creatively.”

The manager of MexiKosher, Solomon Ouzer, said everything served on the truck is kosher. He also told me about their MexiKosher sit-down restaurant on Pico near Robertson. “It’s a [fresh-Mex] place where we prepare burritos, nachos, rice bowls and tacos right in front of you,” Ouzer said.

Mosying to the next truck in line, The Surfer Taco, two young girls ran ahead of me. “We like the colors and cool design of the truck,” said one of the girls from Marina High School in Huntington Beach. The hottest seller from The Surfer Taco truck is the shrimp burrito with rice, beans, cabbage, onion, cilantro, cheese and a special sauce for $9. I asked Chef Mario Alonzo why he thinks people are attracted to food trucks.

“People are looking for different flavors of food and faster service,” he said. “We have repeat diners, because we take the time to please our customers.” Alonzo learned how to cook by spending time in the kitchen with his mom. Later, he took classes at Le Cordon Bleu. Eventually, he plans to open a sit-down restaurant. Right now, he is building up a loyal customer base. “People follow us on Twitter to see where we are parked,” Alonzo said. “We travel from Venice Beach to Palm Springs.”

To finish reading my review, click here Published on 12/6/2012 Courtesy of the Beverly Press.

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