Food trucks serve up delicious alternatives to the usual standard fare
You've seen them, you've heard about them, maybe you've even frequented them. Food trucks conjure up the nostalgia of childhood ice cream and candy trucks, but serve more adult combinations of creative food fusion. These mobile restaurants drive through busy intersections, delighting taste buds and offering the thrill of the chase, all over the place. In the past, street food vendors would sell only basic fare, hotdogs on the side of the road, rickety aluminum shacks parked outside construction sites and petite stands selling sliced and seasoned fruit. Now trendy, eye-catching trucks have replaced the old. Bold paint-jobs and catchy mascots welcome a new crowd of diners.
Today's cultural phenomena of themed food trucks go beyond tacos and burgers, presenting strange and charming concoctions like purple-yam Ube pancakes, Kimchi pork-fries and fried kale. With a nod to technology, each truck urges its patrons to follow them on Twitter in order to locate them around town.
Venice's "First Fridays" event on Abbot Kinney Street usually present a revelry of trucks both old and new. While atop the newly opened World Fare bus - a vintage, double-decker ‘busturant' specializing in South African street food, food-enthusiasts Doug Grant and Audrey Davis said, "We travel everywhere for food."
First-time food-trucker and vegetarian, Jessica Jones, enjoyed her black bean and lentil slider topped with portabella mushrooms from the Cal Fresco Food Truck. "I didn't know truck food could be so tasty or look so adorable," Jones said
Michele Grant, co-owner of the Grilled Cheese truck explained the phenomenon as an extension of arrested development. "We are kid food, for the kid at heart and for the kid that's still a kid." Grant attributes their success to the strong positive emotional reaction people have to their "plain and simple food."
Local businesses see great value in these mobile munchie factories and are happy to encourage them to stay nearby. Jay Huffschmidt, the marketing manager of Beverly Hills Porsche offers up to use of bathroom facilities to the cooks and food truck workers. Huffschmidt said that he "believes strongly in strategic-partnering and community-building." Huffschmidt's partnering has paid off and the dealership has made direct sales from the hungry crowds.
It is hard to imagine anyone deliberately sabotaging a business that prides itself on serving edible joy to the masses, but Monica Kim, who serves up tacos at the Bool Truck, gets ticketed regularly by the Los Angeles Police. In the La Brea News Beverly Press, Kim said, "We've been coming here for three months now and we get tickets every day; we can't always move the car every hour. Sometimes we're busy or there aren't any spots."
To counteract the problems of street parking, food truck vendors have banded together at large events like the LA Street Food Fest. Many of these events, however, have left patrons with rumbling stomachs due to the meager quantities of food unable to meet the demands of teeming crowds.
Aven Yam, a street food connoisseur, said that even though the effort to unify the trucks is gaining momentum, it might outlive the novelty of the craze. "Within the next 18 months, like the cupcake fad and the frozen yogurt sensation, the food truck craze will wane," said Yam.
Some organizers agree. Chef Roy Choi, owner of the immensely popular Kogi trucks that offer Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine, will transition from managing four food trucks to establishing a permanent location within The Alibi Room, a bar and lounge in Culver City to which the Kogi trucks regularly cater.
So while food trucks abound and the food is hot, take a stroll down Abbot Kinney, visit the Alibi Room or tweet your way to a delicious meal near you.