Lost in LA: Food trucks!

18 Apr

Since people seemed to enjoy my list of delicious LA ice cream last week, I thought I’d continue the LA food love this week with a list of awesome food trucks!

LA has had food trucks forever. You find them at any construction site, often serving up really good but ridiculously greasy tacos and burritos. This was fuel for hard work or cures for hangovers. Although everyone knew about those, it wasn’t until late 2008 that gourmet food trucks hit the scene and almost immediately became THE THING. Most trucks have twitter feeds, so hungry Los Angelenos can find out where their favorite truck is right that moment. Prime food truck parking spots became full on wars between truck owners, local business owners and the city, many of which are still ongoing. Madness! But, even through all the angst, food trucks gave something Los Angelenos to rally around. It got people out of their cars and on the sidewalks, a process that LA needs some help with.

UCLA, where I used to work, got into the game when they started inviting two food trucks on campus each day while one of the cafeterias was under construction. Every day became a food truck treat! I may have put on a few pounds in the process, but all the food truck testing was worth it.

Unfortunately, these trucks are not always the most long lasting. As I researched this post, I realized that some of my favorite trucks are either gone entirely (RIP Louks Greek) or trying to turn into a brick and mortar restaurant (Good luck, Nom Nom Truck and Frysmith). So, double check that the truck is still in existence before you take my word for it…

Here’s my short guide to a few of my favorite LA food trucks!

food trucks

1. The daddy of all gourmet food trucks:

Kogi Korean BBQ Tacos

new kitchen new night-11

Why it’s good:

Kogi was really the first truck that hit it big. It was in the LA Times, NPR, Time Magazine, Gourmet Magazine, Food Network, etc etc etc. Roy Choi, the chef, became the big thing, being named one of 2010’s Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine. Lines for the trucks were massive (I admit to waiting at least an hour at one point for a Kogi taco). The truck fleet went from one to four. Other food truck owners immediately began to imitate Kogi. It was a big deal.

And the food lives up to it. Pairing Korean bbq flavors with tacos is just plain genius. And at $2.29 per taco, the price is right.

kogi-4

What to get?

Although Kogi serves a variety of fusion food, I think the classic tacos are the best. I’m a fan of the spicy pork and the short rib tacos, but really, they’re all good. Kimchi quesadillas are also spicy and delicious, if you’re looking for something slightly different.

Roy Choi also has a few restaurants in LA: Chego, A-Frame and Sunny Spot. I can personally vouch for Chego’s deliciousness, and I hear that the other two are fantastic as well.

2. Top Chef gourmet Mexican food…cheaper!

Border Grill Truck

border_grill_truck

Why it’s good:

This is another big time chef’s side business. Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger opened Border Grill Restaurant in the late 80’s, and since then have become Top Chef Masters, tv personalities, cookbook writers, etc etc etc. Eating a meal at Border Grill can set you back a little bit, but the reasonably priced truck is bringing Milliken and Feniger’s Mexican creations to the street.

poblano_quesadilla

churro_tots

What to get?

I have a thing for the poblano quesadilla. Manchego + cotija cheese and peppers? IN MY MOUTH NOW. The tamale and Peruvian ceviche cones are one of their more unique offerings. And I haven’t ordered them yet, but the next time I’m at the truck, I’m definitely getting some churro tots. Those sound genius.

3. Fancy spins on classic sandwiches and the best sweet potato fries anywhere:

Gastrobus

gastrobus

Why it’s good:

Gastrobus isn’t as well known as the first two trucks I mentioned, but it’s one of my absolute favorites. The Gastrobus crew makes ridiculously good versions of classic sandwiches, as well as offering a variety of seasonal specials. I’ve never been disappointed by the bright yellow bus.

gastrobus amazing sweet potato fries 8217 (Small)

What to get?

THE SWEET POTATO FRIES WITH HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE. You guys. I have eaten a ton of sweet potato fries in my life, and they’re always pretty good. And yet, these fries out of the back of a truck blow them all away. They’re the perfect mix of crispy and soft, and that honey mustard sauce is so good I’d eat it off a spoon. That picture above is making me drool all over my laptop.

If you’re looking for a darn good sandwich, I highly recommend the pulled pork. It has just the right amount of tang in the sauce.

4. Time for dessert!

Coolhaus

coolhaus

Why it’s good:

Are you ready to hear just how cool I am? I knew about Coolhaus BEFORE it launched to four cities besides LA (including a truck here in Austin), got a storefront, and before they put their ice cream sandwiches in a ton of stores across the US. Honestly, I had no idea how much they’d blown up until I just went to their website. And all in only four years! Good for them!

Coolhaus is all about putting interesting ice cream flavors between two delicious cookies of your choice. That simple, that delicious.

Coolhaus

What to get?

They’re flavors change every day, so it’s hard to say what they’ll have when you go. I love their dirty mint flavor ice cream and chocolate cookies with sea salt. The perfect blend of fresh and rich.

And how do you find all these food trucks? There are a bunch of truck aggregators online, making it easy to see all the out and about trucks at a glance.

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4 Responses to “Lost in LA: Food trucks!”

  1. angieeatspeace April 18, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    This post made me hungry!
    I am going to my first food truck event next month and am super excited.

  2. Laura Rowsell (@LauraRowsell) April 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Ughhhhh, food trucks are like my favourite thing that I’ve never experienced because England is STUPID. I mean, London is pretty big, it could totally have food trucks! But no. No it doesn’t. Because it’s stupid.

    Anyway! My bitterness aside, OMG I really want an ice cream sandwich now. But it’s like 11.30pm here, so… I’m just going to wait until an appropriate hour. Like midnight 😉

  3. LogPoes April 20, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    It might be a bit before I’ll be able to go to LA, but I’ll be saving these blogposts so I’ll know where to go!

  4. thoughtsontheatre April 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Completely agree with all of these!

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