Posts Tagged ‘Truck’

Over the years, many food trucks come and go, proving that only the strong survive. Granted, a handful of terrible food trucks still exist today, but for every few bad food trucks that open, a star rises from the depths. Opening a winning food truck usually involves launching a concept so unique that a restaurant would not feasibly imitate the idea. With the arrival of Spring, businesses in many different industries start to open up and plan for greater business. Restaurants dole out new menus, bars kick up drink specials, bands book new shows & tours, and food trucks awake from hibernation. Winter brings slow business to many food trucks, so many owners opt to remain dark throughout winter. But when the weather warms up, customers eagerly seek out the food trucks, so they start rolling out more frequently. Check out these five food trucks in the Greater Los Angeles Area that have braved the harsh winter to remain open selling their delicious eats. If these food trucks can stand the test of time, who knows what direction the owners plan to head in next.

5. Vchos Truck


Taquito & Mixed Pupusas

People colloquially know food trucks as luxe loncheras, loosely translated as taco truck. The typical luxe lonchera serves standard Mexican food: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and more similar foods. A luxe lonchera may not always serve just Mexican food – just to mix it up, they usually serve American standards, like burgers and sandwiches. If you seek authentic food, a luxe lonchera may not earn a high spot on a list of places to search. However, Vchos Truck aims to stick close to their Salvadorean roots with their hand-made pupusas. This Salvadorean food consists of thick tortillas filled with any of various fillings that may contain any combination of meat, cheese, or beans. The folks at Vchos hand-make fresh gluten-free corn tortillas to order, and fill them with your choice of fillings, such as chicken or pork. Vegetarians may also enjoy meatless options, while vegans can enjoy a bean pupusa or other specials upon request. Although pupuserías exist everywhere throughout Los Angeles, no one else serves pupusas on a food truck but Vchos. Get your pupusa fix by tracking down Vchos Truck this season.

4. Ta Bom Truck


Coxinhas (3) + Brigadero (1)

Thanks to the gourmet food truck movement, the definition of a luxe lonchera has expanded to encompass more than just a taco truck, or some other food truck that serves Mexican food. Specifically, we can thank chefs like Roy Choi, founder of Kogi BBQ, for bearing the vision to start something so different yet so terrific. A food truck serving Salvadorean food only seems logical as the next step in the evolution of the luxe lonchera, but the expansion does not stop there! Head down further south to find entirely new cultures in South America… or track down Ta Bom Truck for their wonderful Brazilian street food. Los Angeles’ first and currently only Brazilian food truck serves street food Brazilian style, such as their pastels (filled fried pastries) or the Hamburgao. However, if you can visit Ta Bom only once, you must order their signature item – the Coxinha. These teardrop-shaped treats start with a filling of shredded chicken and cream cheese, which get wrapped in potatoes, then battered and fried. Coxinhas come in two varieties – original and spicy. Each Coxinha costs $3, but you can order three of them plus a soda for $10, or six of them for $15. I highly recommend ordering the six, as you can easily reheat them at home. Experience why I call these Coxinhas “little drops of heaven” by locating Ta Bom, which usually only opens for lunch, and seldom for dinner.

3. The Viking Truck

Yes, a repeat entry! When a food truck makes it onto a list twice within a 12-month span, believe me when I say this food truck deserves your patronage. Already open for just over a year, The Viking Truck means business this year with their BRAND NEW TRUCK. This new truck comes equipped with FOUR fryers, meaning they can crank out up to four times as many corn dogs or tots. You will not find a better corn dog anywhere else. I used to swear by the corn dogs at Disneyland, such as the Little Red Wagon or Corn Dog Castle. However, one can only acquire those by gaining admission into the theme park, then shelling out another $5-6 for the corn dog. With the Viking Truck, you do not have to pay to stand in line at the truck – you simply walk up to the line! And you also get choices on your corn dog instead of just the beef hot dog! For a psychedelic taste journey, order the Terrorbird (Chicken Apple Sausage Corn Dog) with their Curry Ketchup. This will remind you of a pancake & sausage on a stick, just like those found in junior high/middle school. As an aside, look on their Facebook page to learn the fate of the old truck.

2. Meet ‘N Potatoes


White Truffle Aioli Burger

Surviving in the food truck industry today relies heavily on making friends with all the other players in the industry. Prior to opening a food truck, owners must meet other owners and workers, and learn about the industry’s movers & shakers. Back in January 2011, after months of meeting the right people, Meet ‘N Potatoes finally opened their doors to a highly competitive field. Nobody ever claimed an easy opening of a food truck, so even with the right resources, expect a rocky start. The folks at Meet ‘N Potatoes appear to strategically plan their next moves though, as they remain ahead of trends and curves, and remain a solid food truck today. Meet ‘N Potatoes bears a simple menu – their sandwiches contain the same ingredients across the board, and the customer only has to choose the size of the sandwich and the meat. They carry daily specials, but their White Truffle Aioli Burger has remained a special for over a year. Regardless of its status as a special, you should immediately go for this item over their standard menu, since you cannot find a sauce like this anywhere else. Because of the layering, the sauce almost gets absorbed into the burger, which further amplifies the sauce and the patty. Unlike the standard menu, this burger only comes in one size. Although that means the burger could feed two, after one bite, you may not want to share this burger after all. Discover the consumption of fries in your sandwich by order a sandwich from Meet ‘N Potatoes this season.

1. Dos Chinos


Hollywood Chicken Burrito

The evolution of the luxe lonchera comes full circle, bringing tastes from the east to the kitchens of the west. With such a melting pot culture, California sees more than just social intermingling – Californians love to combine aspects of all fields. We see that already in music, where some artists combine classical instruments with today’s contemporary music. We see that already in fashion, where vintage receives a modern update to create a faux-retro style. Now we see that in food, where chefs mix cuisine from two different cultures. Latin American cuisine seems to mix well with other cuisines, so when Dos Chinos acted on this concept, they bore a style that would catch on for years. Orange County’s premiere modern luxe lonchera rolls through the streets serving Asian food Latin-style. Thanks to the open canvases that Latin cuisine provides, Dos Chinos has thrown their Asian entrées onto a tortilla, and called it Genius. As such, customers receive multiple choices when ordering: pick a meat, then pick a preparation. Meats include coconut curry chicken, pork belly, BBQ beef, rib eye asada, garlic butter shrimp, and “breakfast style” which includes an egg. Per the customer’s choice, Dos Chinos will prepare the choice of meat as a taco, burrito, bowl, quesadilla, or papas fritas. Patrons love the choices, and they love the simplicity of the menu for carrying something familiar yet different but tasty all at the same time. Dos Chinos reigns as one of Orange County’s top food trucks, and their food clearly proves how they earned that position.

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The sound of progress rings loudly this new year. Day by day, in every field and industry, people continually raise the bar in improving and developing methods related to that field or industry. The food industry bears no exception, as chefs and cooks strive to improve and create new food everyday. Tastes and trends alter so rapidly over time that trend followers tend to lose sight over traditional items. This abandonment of traditional foods has caused the prevalence of comfort foods, or foods people grew up eating. After not eating a particular food for a long time, returning to eating it brings back memories of our younger selves. One can combine old with new by seeking traditional comfort food made with modern techniques. No mobile chef understands this concept better than anyone else than the curator behind Vizzi Truck.

A visionary cuisine on wheels, Vizzi Truck serves restaurant quality food in a mobile setting. As a part of the first generation of gourmet food trucks, Vizzi Truck helped pave the way for all the new food trucks one may spot today. Their worldly take on coastal cuisine shines brightly, as many have attempted to imitate the style, but have never come close to replicating the food. Vizzi Truck rolls out with a new menu every season, and with winter having just started, Vizzi Truck recently launched their winter menu, complete with more meaty goodness than ever before. This time, Vizzi Truck has introduced a Bacon Brie Grilled Cheese. This grilled cheese sandwich comes loaded with brie cheese, fig marmalade, bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, and chimichurri-creme sauce. The sauce gives the sandwich an unreal sensation, yielding a flavor so unique that most people cannot accurately describe or relate it. Despite the sauce and cheese, the bread maintains its texture throughout the sandwich, and the bacon maintains its crispiness with each bite. Traditional to all their handheld food, Vizzi Truck serves this grilled cheese over a bed of their daily popcorn, which sometimes contains figs. For the reasonable price of $10, you can order this epic grilled cheese at Vizzi Truck at any of their public locations. But take heed – as a part of their winter menu, this sandwich will not last for much longer, so track down Vizzi Truck in the next month or two and nab this grilled cheese!

Despite having started over four years ago, gourmet food trucks have survived the test of time and remains a solid trend today. Anyone who only believes in the old “roach coach” stereotype has not ventured out to try food from a gourmet food truck. Nowadays however, an abundance of new food trucks have surfaced called their food gourmet, attempting to capitalize on the uprising popularity of food trucks. Sadly, many of the new food trucks make food of mediocre quality, thus tarnishing the reputation of the true gourmet food trucks. I go out and test these food trucks so you can know which ones deserve your patronage. Check out the five food trucks below that I recommend seeking out this winter. You may find some pleasant & delectable surprises at these, as well as any food trucks that they roll with when you visit them.

5. Texas Chili Pie Co.


West Texas Egg Roll

If you want to open a gourmet food truck, you certainly cannot go wrong with comfort food. Food truck followers can tolerate new and experimental foods, but to the masses, the food trucks have to serve something familiar to get that initial following going. Rolling out almost once a week or less, Texas Chili Pie Co. brings a taste of Texas to Los Angeles. This food truck serves traditional and fusion variants of Fritos & Chili. Many of their creations come in a tortilla bowl, while some get rolled into an egg roll and fried. The result of the latter comes out looking like a fried burrito stuffed with chili or BBQ beef. If you want to appeal to many people, how can you go wrong with chili and BBQ beef? Honestly, for as simple as it appears, it tastes comforting, despite how many calories each pie contains. If you crave a meaty guilty pleasure, seek out Texas Chili Pie Co.

4. TJ’s Woodfire Pizza


Quatro Formaggi w/ Prosciutto

Typical American consumers order pizza in order to feed a large amount of people for a low price. Although not mass produced, the quality remains fairly average. When you start to see an increase in the quality of the pizza, typically the size decreases as a tradeoff. Sometimes you need this size decrease in order to deliver a high quality pizza fit for one serving. For pizza like this, follow the large woodfire oven on wheels known as TJ’s Woodfire Pizza. More than a food truck, this massive woodfire oven in a trailer broils authentic Neapolitan woodfired pizza for customers in no time flat. The menu contains typical toppings of pizza, such as classic like margherita and BBQ chicken to lesser common toppings like quattro formaggi (four cheese) and chicken pesto. Technically one pizza can serve two people, but after one bite, why bother sharing? You will want the entire pizza to yourself once you bite into the soft thin crust with a harmonizing blend of sauce, cheese, and toppings. Make this one pizza pie you will want seconds of.

3. Mandoline Grill


Grilled Pork & Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Salad

With the influx of gourmet food trucks, people had to shed their preconceived notions of the roach coach stereotype. Instead, most food trucks received a new branding of “good food, not good for you” in response to the massive amounts of calories, carbs, fats, and more in the food. Since most food trucks fall under this category, finding a food truck with healthy eats feels refreshing. As one of LA’s few vegan-friendly food trucks, Mandoline Grill proves that you can eat great food that will not make you feel guilty about eating it. This Vietnamese food truck serves sandwiches, noodles, salads, tacos, and nachos, all Vietnamese style complete with meat and veggies. While sandwiches and noodles contain plenty of carbs, people watching their diet should look towards the tacos or salads. Tacos come on corn tortillas and contain meat, pickled carrots & daikon, cilantro, and hot sauce. All these ingredients benefit your health more than do harm. For a larger and even healthier meal, opt for a salad – mixed greens, cucumbers, pickled carrots & daikon, shallots, and peanuts, served with your choice of sauce. With a few substitutions, anything on this food truck can come out as vegan. Thanks to Mandoline Grill, you can have your food truck food, and eat it too!

2. Garlic Scapes


Black Garlic Patty Melt

Many food trucks focus their cuisine around a broad category or region, such as Mexican, Chinese, or Korean food. Others base their menu around a type of food, such as burgers or tacos. Rarely, food trucks will dedicate their entire menu to one ingredient. We rarely see these types of food trucks because of its small niche and difficulty in maintaining a following. But when the marketing and demand exist, the people will come to eat. Garlic Scapes dedicates their menu to the love of garlic. As their name suggests, all food from this food truck contains garlic in some form. As an acquired taste, some people love it, some people loathe it. For someone like me who loves garlic, I usually ask for more. Garlic Scapes tries to find the middle ground in terms of how much garlic to include in every item. For garlic lovers, always ask them to put more garlic in your food, as you may not taste enough if you order it stock off their menu. Take warning: most of their menu items tend to fill you up, so if you want to save room, split your food with someone.

1. Patty Wagon


La Vie En Rose

More often than not, quality and quantity relate indirectly to each other. When you gain quality, you sacrifice quantity. Consumers have varying preferences, so sticking with one cannot always realistically occur. With today’s gourmet food truck community, the industry prefers quality over quantity, and Patty Wagon adheres to this with their food. Patty Wagon utilizes the freshest sustainable grass-fed beef in their mini hamburgers, indicating less calories & fat, and more vitamins & nutrients in the beef. Bigger than sliders but smaller than full-sized hamburgers, Patty Wagon’s mini hamburgers contains exquisite toppings on their beef patties with fresh bread baked daily locally. They even named every menu item after a 30’s or 40’s song because back then people ate real beef before industrial chain food existed. One would normally find this type of quality in a restaurant, but as full hamburgers. High quality mini hamburgers on a food truck = GENIUS. Go try one of these mini hamburgers and become a believer!

Pondering upon the staples in American cuisine, the hamburger remains one of the most widely known foods that virtually everyone has eaten at one point in life. Even vegans and vegetarians have tried a form of the hamburger, usually using imitation or soy patties, or in some cases, a patty constructed with oats & barley. Chefs and home cooks alike love to cook and create hamburgers because of its blank canvas nature, rivaled only by the sandwich in terms of versatility. My love of hamburgers derives from this ability of versatility and creativity in formulating the perfect bite. Over time, I have searched around for the best hamburgers ever, and though my search never produced a clear best, I have had the privilege of sampling some of the greater hamburgers in the area. Earlier in the summer, I listed 5 hamburgers to try during the summer months. If you have not gone to try those burgers, then you really need to seek those burgers down, because some of those may not remain on their respective menus for long. For now, I have five more hamburgers that you must try in the Los Angeles area this season.

5. Eureka! Burger‘s Fig Marmalade Burger

Travelers can learn much from the locals. Locals tend to know exactly where to find anything travelers need. However, all travelers should know to always ask the locals about the best places to dine at. Leave it to a local to inform me about Eureka! Burger (henceforth just Eureka), a burger bar that specializes in gourmet burgers and craft beer. Eureka’s menu represents your typical American bistro fare – appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and of course, burgers. If it has “Burger” in the name, then their burgers have to taste amazing, right? So the first time I arrived at Eureka, I immediately asked my server to bring me their most popular burger without telling me which burger I had ordered. In no time later, my server brings to me the Fig Marmalade Burger. This burger, cooked to order, comes topped with homemade fig marmalade, melted goat cheese, crispy bacon, minced tomato, onions, and arugula with a spicy porter sauce. Talk about blending a world of flavors together into a melting pot! Fig and goat cheese merge together as a classic combination to create a sweet and creamy blend, while the bacon adds its salty kick, cutting through the fig and goat cheese. Surprisingly, you can clearly taste the porter in the sauce too, although which porter they use remains a mystery to me. Oh, and all burgers come with fries cut in-house. Pair this burger with a nice pale ale or amber ale, and you will have a divine dinner. With seven locations currently open and more on the way, you need to head down to your local Eureka! Burger and try this delicious plate.

4. 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro‘s MOD Burger

You have to give a lot of credit to themed restaurants. Most restaurants have their servers dress in normal restaurant-black, and they act like normal people. But once you step into a themed restaurant, not only do the servers dress the part, but you may also hear an accent, legit or funny! Finding the right balance of playing the theme and working seriously can bolster business, and 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro in Torrance has found that balance. Running with an early 1900’s theme, 1321 almost feels like an olde saloon, as the servers dress up in vintage vests and other garments. The restaurant even airs silent black & white movies in the dining area. Straying away from the theme, the menu does not follow the old theme, but instead caters to modern palates. Most of their menu carries modern culinary influence, such as the MOD Burger. This giant beef patty gets topped with white cheddar, stout-braised onions, slab bacon, greens, and smoked tomato remoulade. Now this topping list sounds normal, but instead of trying to create something new, 1321 reinvents the burger with high quality ingredients. When cooked rare to medium rare, the massive patty contains all the juices of the beef, releasing upon the first big bite. The onions come out very strong, and using slab bacon allows for thicker cuts and enhanced taste. Overall, 1321 makes this burger RIGHT. The burger comes with Pub Fries too, but honestly, do you order a burger just so you can eat fries? Order this burger with an Imperial IPA for the optimal pairing.

3. Grill ’em All‘s Behemoth

If you win a Food Network show, then you have a secret weapon that you used to secure the win. To win a competition at such a high level requires either the finest training in the world, or something so outrageous that no one else has ever thought about it. The boys over at Grill ’em All has thrown away all conventions to deliver to starving customers their renditions of Heavy Metal Hamburgers. Grill ’em All does not dolly around with vegetables – all their burgers (except for one) aim to smash your face with other ingredients that seek to obliterate your taste buds. Their monster creation, The Behemoth, has gained widespread popularity thanks in part to their usage of it during their stint on Food Network. First of all, this burger uses TWO grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. A typical person can only down one of these at a time. Grill ’em All would like you to smash TWO sandwiches AND the rest of the burger, which comes with cheddar, bacon, beer-soaked onions, pickles, and BBQ Sauce. Good lord, what has science created? No one will tell you the calorie count for this monstrosity, because no man should ever walk away from this challenge knowing the schematics behind it. Dare you face The Behemoth in one sitting? I shall inform you that this does not taste good when reheated, so you best devour this all in one sitting, lest you deprive yourself the opportunity to conquer this towering beast. You can hunt down Grill ’em All as they roam Los Angeles on wheels, or wait patiently until their store opening in San Gabriel Valley coming soon.

2. Slater’s 50/50‘s Donut Burger

Excerpt from my post about it:

Slater’s 50/50 continually outdoes themselves in manly culinary creations. They serve their latest iteration, the 50/50 Donut Burger, on weekends from 9am to 12pm. This messy mouthful holds their signature 50/50 patty topped with American cheese and a sunny-side up egg, served between TWO glazed donuts with a side of strawberry jam. Unlike other donut burgers we have seen before which consist of one donut cut in half to serve as the buns, Slater’s 50/50 decided to give you TWO donuts as individual buns burger holders. The ingredient list appears minimal, but honestly all you need in a wake-up slap lies right here, because everything works well together. The subtle combo of the egg and cheese plus the sweetness from the donut truly bring out the meatiness of the 50/50 patty. I have eaten 50/50 burgers before, but usually the toppings overwhelm the patty, and the burger becomes an afterthought. With this Donut Burger, nothing overpowers the patty, allowing you to savor the true experience of devouring a 50/50 burger. For those feeling extra bold, request some peanut butter and lather it and the jam on the burger.

1. Haven Gastropub‘s Haven Burger

When a chef leads a petition to overturn a significant food law, you know that everyone trusts that chef to cook the most amazing dishes. The people would go crazy if someone had more talent than the leader. Luckily, the right man led the petition earlier this year to overturn the foie gras ban. Unfortunately, the law never got overturned, hence why we sit here without delicious foie gras in our bellies. That still does not take away the fact that Chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub cooks among the elites of the industry. Living a legacy of its own, Haven Gastropub crafts some of the finest food anyone has ever tried while pouring some of the best craft brews available. When something tastes that good, the chef usually grants the dish a proper name, which you can find in the Haven Burger. Pickled red onions, roasted red bell peppers, wild arugula, and St. Agur cheese accompany this burger, with pommes frites on the side. Paired with an IPA, this meal fits in any time of the day. The burger patty bears so much natural juices that you do not need sauce with this burger – Chef Daniels places all you need on the burger, without the need for anything else. For the love of food, do not modify this burger. In fact, one should never modify anything unless it pertains to certain food allergies. Chefs craft the ingredients for a reason, and each ingredient serves a purpose that contributes to the flavor output. Modifying changes what the chef had in mind for you to try, thus you cannot taste the chef’s true talent. On that note, nothing insults a chef more than customers adding salt and/or pepper to their food. Your dish already has all the flavors it should have, so just adding basic flavors ruins the vision. But anyways, I digress – no other burger comes close to tasting similar to the Haven Burger. When you want to treat your taste buds to paradise, head over to Haven Gastropub in Orange or Pasadena and order the Haven Burger. Savor it for its true form, and your soul shall reward you back.

The food truck fad may have died a while ago, but that should not stop you from seeking these delectable meals on wheels. Food trucks may prosper more during the summer, but the with the heat wave continuing onwards through fall, they remain a popular visit for locals and travelers alike. If you have not yet tried all five food trucks that I recommended at the beginning of summer, shame on you for not doing so already, and go find them while the weather still suits it. For now, I have selected five food trucks that I recommend trying food from at least once this fall. I pick these based on the quality of their food and their relative popularity, which I measure as their number of Twitter followers divided by how many trucks they operate. I feel that I should not have to recommend a popular truck, as most people will have already tried food from that truck, or heard of them.

5. No Jodas Kitchen


Pan Con Lechon Preparada

An old saying goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thinking about food now, sometimes when a type of food works, you want to stick with that, and keep improving it. No Jodas Kitchen follows this concept by serving traditional Cuban food with minor tweaks that greatly enhance the taste experience. No Jodas serves Cuban hot-pressed sandwiches with different meats and combinations, such as roasted pork, ham, and steak. The No Jodas twist comes with their No Jodas Sauce, a bold yellow garlic spread. Personally, I love garlic, so that strong of a spread on the sandwich flies well with me. For others, too much garlic may not fit the bill – in that case, No Jodas also carries terrific sides, such as Papas Rellenas and Croquetas. The food truck culture may favor new creations and thinking outside the box, but sometimes you have to fall back to basics, and No Jodas does that well.

4. Taco Maria


Left to Right: Mole de Pollo, Carnitas a la Naranja, Arrachera

To the typical bloke, you can only order tacos from a food truck, nothing else. A food truck can have BURGER in the name, yet common blokes still will ask for tacos. Drunks will not even pay attention to the menu, and simply walk up and ask for tacos. To all those blokes who still bear a bad perception of food trucks, Taco Maria has your solution. Taco Maria cooks fine-dining restaurant quality meats right on their truck, and serves it in a taco or burrito. After one bite, you may wonder why they choose to operate out of a truck rather than a brick & mortar, because honestly, I would love to order just a plate of the meat and consume it a la carte. Taco Maria has boldly carried foie gras on their truck before, and served it a week prior to the ban. Besides this, they also featured limited-time specials, so checking that list usually yields something else favorable. If you have not sought Taco Maria after finding out that they served foie gras, go find them this fall!

3. Truck Norris


Kickin’ Chicken

It can stop a bullet with its grill. It does not drive – the road pushes it forward. Thousands of other food trucks currently operate because it allows them to do so. It helped jump-start another vehicle, and that other vehicle later became Optimus Prime.
Meet Truck Norris. No kidding, this food truck truly exists. However, shatter all your expectations right there, because Truck Norris serves fine Hawaiian and Filipino food. Yeah, that confuses me too – I mean, Chuck Norris represents an American icon from Texas, yet a food truck clearly named after him serves food that has nothing to do with him. But hey, all around the world, people know Chuck Norris. Luckily, Truck Norris can live up to the expectations of bearing that name with their mighty fine fusion cuisine. As far as islander street food goes, Truck Norris perfects it. With a menu of traditional and fusion foods, some customers may not find the focus immediately. In fact, the menu even carries Shepherd’s Pie, a traditionally English food. In the end, no one can complain about the quality present in both the food and the people behind the food.

2. Alebrije’s Grill


Taco Acorazado

One can dispute the validity of this entry on my list. Does a stationary food truck still count as a food truck? Although it parks and serves in the exact same spot everyday, Alebrije’s Grill has operated out of the same food truck (with renovations over the years) in the exact same spot since 2000. Why they do this remains a mystery to many, but customers find no mysteries behind their food. Alebrije’s Grill crafts some of the best Mexican food ever for what many consider a hole-in-the-wall… that happens to have wheels. If you think you know carne asada, you will think twice after trying their carne asada. Perhaps the food pictured above makes Alebrije’s Grill popular all this time – the Taco Acorazado, or “Battleship Taco.” Alebrije’s Grill irons out their stand on quality by hand-pressing the mountainous torilla per order ON THE SPOT. Next they add tomato-infused rice, milanesa (beef dipped in egg, breaded, then fried), cactus, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and cotija cheese. Do not bother starting this like a normal taco – pick away at it with a knife and fork before finally picking it up to eat. Nothing shouts Mexican comfort food louder than a Battleship Taco. Go find Alebrije’s Grill (not hard since they always park at the same spot), order the Battleship Taco, and do battle. Whose battleship will sink first?

1. Frysmith


Sous Vide Pork Chops, Stone Brewery’s Smoked Porter Gravy, Dubliner Cheese, Diced Granny Smith Apples, Natural Fries

Frysmith does not joke around when it comes to raising the bar then breaking it. Crafting plates of fries that eat like a meal, these monstrous plates feature their twice-fried fries, or “frites” colloquially, topped with various meats and other goodies. In addition to natural-cut fries, Frysmith also utilizes sweet potato fries, as in their Sweet Po Fries – free-range chicken in tomatillo-tamarind sauce over sweet potato fries topped with cashews. For $1, customers may substitute sweet potato fries to any plate that does not originally come with it. Just like the nature of food trucks of never staying in the same place for long, Frysmith creates daily specials as well, such as the plate pictured above. That way, you should never get tired of trying the same food, as they will just keep coming up with more! Would you share your plate with someone else though, or eat it all yourself?

The Hamburger – a classic food that nearly everyone in the world has eaten. Since we were kids, we have all tried at least one variation of the hamburger. Because it is such a basic template of bun and meat, the hamburger is a canvas upon which professional and amateur chefs can create masterpieces; the only similar food that is more of a blank canvas is the sandwich. The hamburger can be made cheaply, or it can be made fit for a king.

For now, I am here to show you hamburgers that truly are fit for a king, without you needing to be rich like a king. Below are five hamburgers in the Los Angeles area that I recommend you order this Summer, either because it is only available for a limited time, or because it is that damn good.

5. Shortstop BBQ‘s Shortstop Burger

Brothers Andrew & Alex are masters when it comes to BBQ. Perhaps one of Orange County’s most underrated and best-kept secret, Shortstop BBQ is writing their legacy one page at a time. They have pooled together their best-selling BBQ meats into one product – the Shortstop Burger. This 1/2 pound smoked angus beef patty comes topped with house-cured & smoked pork belly, grilled onions (cut whole by default), cheddar, and their signature honey BBQ sauce, and comes with a side of frites (double-fried fries). The burger sounds like a typical Western-style Burger, but with quality ingredients like these, this is no ordinary BBQ burger! The burger patty seems to absorb all of the flavors of everything on top, and the pork belly is essentially thicker and fattier bacon. And this BBQ sauce… let me tell you truthfully, your taste buds will be frolicking in this sauce. This burger is available at their food truck that roams Orange County AND their restaurant in Fullerton/Placentia. The restaurant is set up as fast-food service, but there will be beer & wine served there very soon. You definitely need to keep an eye on them for updates!

4. Red Table‘s Belly Burger

This is truly a hidden gem, if not designed on purpose. Tucked away on the backside of a shopping center behind a Trader Joe’s, Red Table combines classic comfort food with worldly cuisine and techniques. The prices are reasonable, the food is exquisite, the beers are rare, and the specials are out of this world. One burger on their menu that will leave you wondering how to start this thing is the Belly Burger. This monstrous build comes with a ground steak patty, pork belly, pickled slaw, then drenched with “not so secret” sauce, which is still a mystery to me. One would look at this thing and immediately reach for a knife and fork. No no no – a burger is NEVER meant to be eaten with a knife & fork. Forego all things conventional, acquire some napkins, and dive in with your hands and gobble this burger up. Sure you will get messy, but the experience is part of the meal. If you can manage it, use only one hand to hoist the burger up, so you have a hand free to grab your beer glass. Trust me – you do not want to be seen either 1) not enjoying your beer while you snarf down that burger, or 2) drinking your beer with a straw (god forbid). Bring your friends here too so they can gaze in amazement while you devour the burger like the mammal that you are.

3. The Factory‘s Stout Burger

When you have a burger with beer in it, you know you are heading in the right direction. Leave it to the crafty folks at The Factory to figure this one out. This gastropub located in the heart of the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach is so far from the more popular areas of Long Beach that few have discovered this majestic burger. The Stout Burger is a 7oz grass-fed beef patty with sharp cheddar cheese, cabbage, caramelized onions, and stout sauce on a pretzel bun. The sauce uses whatever stout is on tap at The Factory, so the sauce will taste slightly different each time! At the time that I tried it, the sauce used Stone Brewery’s Imperial Russian Stout. I do not know how the onions are caramelized, because those onions were so soft they felt like Thai noodles. This burger pairs well with the many IPAs served here, as the owners are major hopheads and often feature a draft list of mostly hoppy beers. Keep in mind that on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, all food is 50% off after 8pm. There you go – a good reason to go to The Factory!

2. Slater’s 50/50‘s The ‘Merica

I have already posted about it, but this needs to be said again – GET THIS “BURGER” BEFORE IT IS GONE. This is Slater’s 50/50 we are talking about here – they do not mess around when it comes to reinventing fire. For the month of July only, you can obtain The ‘Merica at any Slater’s 50/50 location. This aporkalyptic burger is constructed with a patty that is 100% ground bacon (remember to take a breath), thick-cut bacon, bacon cheddar, “bacon island” dressing, and a fried egg, most likely fried in bacon fat. You have not lived until you have experienced a Bacon Foursome. If you really want to go that far, consider the egg may be fried in bacon fat, thus this becomes a Bacon Fivesome, and you are at the center of it all my friend! If you think this may be too salty or too high in cholesterol, fear not – the patty is not as salty as one may believe. In fact, I am willing to wager that the patty may be the leanest part of this burger sans the fried egg. You only have less than three weeks left to slaughter a pig, so hop to it!

1. Vizzi Truck‘s Bacon + Bacon Beef Burger

If there is one burger you must try this Summer before it is gone, I have the exact answer for you. Albeit I have already covered why this burger is so good, Vizzi Truck still needs a mention on this list. This Bacon + Bacon Beef Burger borrows concepts from two locally famous burgers to form this perfect creation. The patty is 50% beef and 50% bacon, then underneath that is a marmalade with even more bacon, dijon, and onions. This gets further topped with blue cheese mornay, arugula, and another layer of the marmalade. There is not much you can do to make this burger better than it already is – modifying it is a sacrilege, and anyone who dares modify this burger should 1) get slapped, and 2) be suggested a different item. If a person cannot enjoy the burger as it should be, it is better that person not enjoy it at all so that person does not get the wrong perception of the burger and attempt to explain the wrong flavor of it to another person. Worse yet, that person can blog about it! Perhaps I got carried away, but when it comes to burgers, Vizzi Truck has a winner, and you definitely need to seek out Vizzi Truck and eat this burger. Eat it like you have never eaten before.

Since early 2009, visionary chefs have brought the perception of food trucks up from ‘roach coach’ to the now ‘gourmet food truck’ that you may see in most major cities. This food truck revolution is generally credited to Roy Choi, the founder of Kogi BBQ in 2008. His action of bringing restaurant-quality food to the streets of Los Angeles set off a huge chain reaction for new chefs to either launch, branch off, or continue their culinary careers in a less risky method than starting a brick & mortar business. As the trend caught on, these gourmet food trucks became a novelty, as people from all over traveled in search of these moving food stations. Business owners also sought to capitalize on the trend by charging patrons to even access the trucks in what became known as street food fests, or food truck fests. Over time, the emergence of free food truck lots has reduced the impact of such fests, and those business owners saw a decrease in attendance in their fests that they had to cancel their series of fests altogether.

Today in 2012, the gourmet food truck trend has become quite mainstream that food truck fests are no longer stand-alone – there is usually an added benefit to attending a food truck fest, such as live music, beer & wine gardens, or the dreaded wet T-shirt contests (shame on the promoter for demoralizing food trucks to that level). Regardless, there are enough places to find food trucks for free that one no longer needs to rely on these food truck fests to find something new, since patrons can now track their favorite food trucks and usually find them in the company of other food trucks. With all that being said, we now turn to the meat of this post.

These are five of the food trucks in the Los Angeles area that I recommend trying at least once this Summer. I pick these based on the quality of their food and their relative popularity, which I measure as their number of Twitter followers divided by how many trucks they operate. I feel that I should not have to recommend a popular truck, as most people will have already tried food from that truck, or heard of them.

5. The Viking Truck


The Viking Dog

Disneyland visitors familiar with the Little Red Wagon can now try something better without having to pay the exorbitant price to enter the park. The Viking Truck brings on gourmet sausages, such as bratwurst, chicken apple sausage, and polish sausage, and creates amazing corn dogs and sausage sandwiches. The quality of the corn dog puts the Disneyland corn dog to shame, and believe me – I used to rave about their corn dog. Now that The Viking Truck exists, I can get my comfort food fix while keeping my wallet happy. With names such as the Loki, the Odin, the Trogdor, and more, The Viking Truck is paving their way to pillage your hunger.

4. Dogzilla Hot Dogs


The Dogzilla Dog

As their tagline states, this is Not Your Typical Wiener! Dogzilla takes a normal hot dog and adds a Japanese twist to them. For example, the above Dogzilla Dog is an all-beef frank with avocado, grilled onions, bacon bits, Furikake (seaweed) seasoning, Japanese mayo, and teriyaki sauce. Now this sounds like the perfect American hot dog, but once you see their other menu items, you will see the Japanese fusion. After all, this is not a Dogzilla for nothing! One thing I love about Dogzilla is the people on the truck. These guys are not just here to work – they truly love what they do. Dogzilla does not roam as often as other trucks, since all the guys have other jobs. However, they work on the truck when they can because of their love for the truck, the food, and the people. This is evident of them goofing off when it is not busy, which is rare because Dogzilla is almost always busy when they have a product this good. I can safely say this is my favorite non-traditional hot dog that I have ever tried.

3. Jogasaki Burrito


Jogasaki Burrito #2

If you order sushi, you typically have to sit down in order to use chopsticks, right? Jogasaki Burrito skips the fuss of needing chopsticks by creating sushi that you can hold with your hands. The fine folks at Jogasaki Burrito have crafted a sushi meal in the form of a burrito. You heard that right – sushi as a burrito. Imagine an overgrown sushi roll wrapped in rice paper, and you will have a Jogasaki Burrito. Many classic sushi combinations are present on the menu, as well as new favorites, such as Spicy Tuna Nachos. Burritos come in regular or large, with the large being able to feed two if necessary. These burritos hold together quite well, meaning that it is perfectly valid to purchase a burrito and save it for lunch the next day. If you need a sushi fix on the go, stop by Jogasaki Burrito and grab one for the road.

2. Lomo Arigato


Tri-tip Lomo Saltado

Longevity is a good indicator that any business is doing well. If you can remain open for years in a highly competitive industry, you deserve your place there. Founded in 2009, Lomo Arigato is perhaps the only food truck serving classic Peruvian dishes with a Japanese influence. The menu is as simple as simple can be – pick one of three preparations, pick one of three proteins (sometimes more depending on specials), and pick any modifications, such as extra meat or extra sauce. The Lomo Saltado is a classic Peruvian dish consisting of meat (traditionally sirloin), onions, tomatoes, parsley/cilantro, soy sauce, and french fries with a side of white rice; Lomo Arigato kicks it up by adding red wine to the sauce. Chau Fa is essentially fried rice with red bell peppers, green onions, eggs, and soy sauce. Tallarin Saltado is similar to the Lomo Saltado, but instead of rice being on the side, noodles are mixed in with the meat. Speaking of meat, your protein choices are tri-tip, chicken, and tofu, with bacon and shrimp making an occasional appearance. These also only come in one size: LARGE. At $9 per plate, one order is enough to feed a family of 3-4, or one person up to three different times. If you do plan on saving food for later, I recommend the Tallarin, as that one heats up the easiest and is least likely to lose moisture when reheating. Each order comes with one cup of green sauce, which is usually enough to pour over the entire plate, but for spice lovers, you will want to get extra sauce for sure. I have raved long enough about Lomo Arigato – it is time for you to seek them out and try it for yourself.

1. Vizzi Truck


Braised Wagyu Beef Sliders

Remember earlier I was saying how Chef Roy Choi brought restaurant-quality food to the streets of LA? He was not the only major chef to do so. Chef David Fuñe has ventured outside of his kitchen to deliver some West Coast flair with Pacific influence using French techniques. If you ever see Vizzi Truck, you must stop by to get something to eat and/or drink. On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the highest, Vizzi Truck’s quality level goes to 11. Every item uses the finest ingredients, from their scrumptious sliders to their phenomenal tacos to their more exotic meats, such as veal, duck, and even foie gras. Vizzi Truck employs a seasonal menu, so you will see something new approximately every three months. The staple items are their White Truffle Popcorn and the three Sliders: Braised Wagyu Beef, Black Skillet Chicken, and Organic Chickpea. For first-time eaters, I recommend getting a Slider Trio so you can sample all three. They are all delicious, but the Wagyu Beef remains the best-seller. You will want to come back to Vizzi Truck after the first bite, I guarantee you.

Father’s Office’s Office Burger

Vizzi Truck’s Bacon + Bacon Beef Burger

I have really high standards for burgers. For example, unless it has to (such as turkey), I will not eat a burger cooked beyond medium rare. If a server does not ask me how I want my burger cooked, I ought to question the quality of the meat, since, for all I know, I could be consuming pink slime instead of a burger made of real meat. When I do find an amazing burger, I make sure to inform everyone I know to seek out that particular burger. This time, I have stumbled upon two burgers that are so similar yet so different. Granted, neither of these burgers take the #1 spot in my top list of burgers (which will be posted soon), but they are definitely in the top 5. Without further adieu, here is the breakdown of the two contenders:

Father’s Office‘s Office Burger (FO)
Dry-aged beef patty, (double) caramelized onions, applewood-smoked bacon compote, Gruyère & Maytag Bleu cheeses, arugula

Vizzi Truck‘s Bacon + Bacon Beef Burger (BBB)
50/50 beef & bacon patty, spicy dijon-onion-bacon marmalade, blue cheese mornay, greens (probably arugula)

A side-by-side comparison shows that these two are very similar. After you break it down piece-by-piece, you will begin to see the differences. Let us now examine what these differences are.

Burger Patty

The FO Burger uses the finest dry-aged beef for their patty, which is cooked medium rare by default. This yields a beef patty so juicy and succulent for a classic all-beef experience. Being pure beef though, that is all you get out of the patty – just the flavor of beef.
The BBB Burger takes a page out of the Slater’s 50/50 book and creates a patty that is 50% beef & 50% bacon, then cooked medium rare. No need to worry about the bacon being undercooked – it is cooked prior to meeting the beef, such that the beef will remain medium rare while the bacon is cooked thoroughly. First off, if you have not tried Slater’s 50/50, then you are missing out. Back to this burger, you will get more than your standard beef flavor thanks to the addition of bacon in the patty. The patty is also slightly thicker than the FO patty, meaning that the BBB patty holds more juice and produces a thicker, meatier bite.

Game: Vizzi Truck

Bacon

The FO Burger features a applewood-smoked bacon compote, a sauce derived from the bacon and its drippings. The amount of actual bacon is dwarfed by the compote and all other ingredients in the burger.
For a burger with the word Bacon in it twice, this burger lives up to its name. The BBB Burger not only has bacon in the patty, as described above, but bacon in the marmalade, which is comprised of spicy dijon and caramelized onions. These flavors are all quite different: bacon, spicy dijon, and caramelized onions create a sweet, salty, and spicy sauce – the trifecta of sauces.

Game: Vizzi Truck

Cheeses

The FO Burger contains Gruyère & Maytag Bleu cheese. Gruyère is a wonderful and versatile cheese that goes great on many dishes. It can be eaten cold a la carte, or enjoyed hot such as in grilled cheese, mac & cheese, or a burger. Unlike typical bleu cheese, Maytag Bleu is not a stinky cheese, nor does it have as many blue markings. You get the sharp taste of the bleu without having the sharp smell clog up your nose. The lesser amount of blue markings may be hit or miss – I personally like that there is fewer of the blue coloring.
The BBB Burger has blue cheese mornay, a bleu cheese sauce that may contain butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper. Although not a classic stand-alone cheese, the mornay synergizes well with the rest of the burger because it creates a base for the other ingredients to blend with. Imagine a pasta white sauce compared to alfredo sauce to get an idea of what mornay is compared to bleu cheese.

Game: Draw

Onions

The FO Burger has been nicknamed by locals The Crack Burger mainly because of the onions. The description reads simply as ‘caramelized onions,’ but one bite of these onions will reveal more to it. The Father’s Office staff do not reveal what goes on with the onions, but I describe them as ‘double caramelized onions.’ Essentially, you are eating solid sugar (or crack) since all of the onion flavor has been caramelized out.
The BBB Burger contains their caramelized onions within the marmalade. You can still taste the caramelized onions in the marmalade, but it is mingling with the spicy dijon and bacon. This is an acquired taste, since not everyone will like the dijon. Personally I love all the aspects of the marmalade, but the onions are not a major act in the burger compared to the FO Burger.

Game: Father’s Office

Veggies

Both burgers contain arugula. This one is a no-brainer.

Game: Draw

Bread

The FO Burger comes on a hoagie roll. Nothing special about this bun, just the shape.
The BBB Burger comes on a hamburger bun from a specialty baker of indeterminate origin. The bun is buttered and grilled, adding more flavor to compliment the mornay and burger.

Game: Vizzi Truck

Price

The FO Burger is $12.50 plus tax and tip.
The BBB Burger is $12 straight up. Tip optional.

Game: Vizzi Truck

Availability

The FO Burger is always available at their two locations in Santa Monica and Los Angeles. However, you must be 21 or over to enter and order.
The BBB Burger is available from the truck that roams the Greater Los Angeles Area. This burger is only available for Summer 2012.

Game: Father’s Office

Match: Vizzi Truck

Comparing the two burgers by themselves, Vizzi Truck comes out on top of Father’s Office by two points. However, the most important factor to look at is availability. Father’s Office is here to stay, while the BBB Burger is only available from Vizzi Truck while the Summer 2012 menu is up. That being said, I highly advise you to seek out Vizzi Truck as soon as possible to secure a Bacon + Bacon Beef Burger for yourself before it is no longer available. While you are there, take a look at the rest of their menu – with quality as superb as that burger, you cannot go wrong ordering something else from their menu, especially since there are also vegetarian and vegan items, so you have nothing to complain about. If you are ever in the Santa Monica or Los Angeles area, make sure to check out Father’s Office too. Once you order the Office Burger, you will realize why the locals dub it The Crack Burger.

Alternate photo

My Twitter followers know how much I have been talking about this ever since it was announced about a month ago. I had been meaning to track this down for the longest time, but every week I always had plans that kept me away. This time, I knew I could not wait any longer for it to come closer to me – I had to go to get it. I am referring to Vizzi Truck‘s “Hot & Cold” Foie Gras Torchon Slider.

Vizzi Truck is no stranger to foie gras (Spring 2011 menu). With the CA Foie Gras ban starting in a few days, this “Hot & Cold” Foie Gras Torchon Slider is their final saluting farewell to foie gras. This slider comes with Cherry 8 Brix (Verjus) Marmalade, Truckmade Almond Butter, Bacon Bits, and Greens (tasted like Arugula). Let that settle in for a moment. Once you recall the flavor of each ingredient, you will quickly realize that all of your taste buds are working hard to absorb everything going on this little slider. The marmalade brings the sweet & sour, the almond butter brings the smooth nutty taste, the bacon bits add that strong salty kick, and the greens add the bitter veggie taste. In the middle of it all is a THICK slider of pure foie gras. That is not a patty – that mound of foie gras is coated with bacon bits. The foie gras itself is cold and velvety, containing all the foie gras-ness in its purest form fit for this slider.

You only have a few days left to find this! Track down Vizzi Truck before this weekend, and nab yourself a Foie Gras Slider for $15. Believe me, this is time & money well spent.