Veggie Truckin'

Bay Area Food Trucks from a Vegetarian Perspective

Los Gatos and Los Angeles! July 31, 2012

It’s a weird feeling: I haven’t eaten at a food truck in a week. I feel slightly like I’m going through withdrawals, so I think it’s appropriate to at least write about them. I’ve had a busy week; first, Kyle and I ventured to southern California to visit my sister, and we were only back in San Jose for a day before we left to go to Tahoe for a friend’s wedding. Whew! The good news is we managed to get some food trucks in while we were in LA.

The night before all this craziness started, however, we went to the Los Gatos Food Fest for the first time. I had been wanting to go since this event started, but it never worked well with my schedule while I was teaching, and our Fridays seemed to be filling up quickly during the summer. On the eve of our back-to-back vacations, though, the fest seemed like the perfect introduction to relaxation, especially since it was a Caribbean theme that night!

The Los Gatos Food Fest on July 20th.

As luck would have it, I also got the opportunity to try a truck I hadn’t tried before that night! Arabian Bites had been on my list of trucks that don’t have vegetarian options for awhile. I had seen them have something vegetarian on their menu once, but it unfortunately had eggplant in it. (My allergy strikes again!) This particular evening they happened to be serving a side salad that was vegetarian.

The Arabian Bites truck

I ordered the salad, and the wait seemed a bit long for something so small, especially since there was no one in line when I ordered. There were a few people waiting on orders though. Eventually, I got my food, and it totally redeemed itself by being delicious. I especially enjoyed the dressing. Garbanzo beans and feta are two of my weaknesses, so it’s no surprise that I loved it. If this is any indicator of the quality of the rest of their food, I sure hope this truck adds more vegetarian options to their menu soon.

Side salad from Arabian Bites

Most of the rest of my meal was food I’ve already posted about on here before, but I’d like to give a special shout out to We Sushi for always making me veggie rolls that they have removed from their menu, namely the avocado roll and the veggie gyoza roll. They rock!

For dessert, I still had some room in my belly, so I splurged on an ice cream sandwich from Twisted Chill since I hadn’t had one there before. I went with peach cobbler ice cream on a snickerdoodle cookie.

Peach cobbler on a snickerdoodle cookie from Twisted Chill

I’m not sure if it’s obvious in the photo since there isn’t much to scale it, but this sandwich was HUGE, way bigger than any ice cream sandwich I’ve gotten at a truck before (and I’ve gotten them at three other trucks). I needed a lot of Kyle’s help to finish it, but eventually we did, and we enjoyed every bite.

The next day we left for LA, but it wasn’t until Monday that we visited another food truck. Luckily, we made up for it by going to five of them that night! Yup, I did my first Pacman at an LA event, On the Lot in Los Feliz. This was at the same location where I went to Los Feliz a Go Go last year. This time I went with Kyle and my (very pregnant) sister.

On the Lot, July 23rd

Of the six trucks attending, I had only been to one, so I made it my goal to eat from each of the other five. My first stop was Lomo Arigato, a Japanese/Peruvian fusion truck I had been following on twitter for two years but hadn’t gotten a chance to try yet.

The Lomo Arigato truck

This truck probably has the coolest paint job I’ve seen. It’s actually a paint job, not a wrap, and the icing on the cake is their signature knife sticking out of the front of the truck.

The front of the Lomo Arigato truck

After some deliberation (because everything looked so yummy!), Kyle and I decided on the Tallarin Saltado with tofu.

Tallarin saltado from Lomo Arigato

It was a lot of food for the price, and knowing that I wanted to pull off a Pacman, I was afraid we’d have to take some home, but it was also just too tasty to stop eating. Kyle and I finished all of the noodles without a problem.

Our next stop was Deano’s Deli Sandwiches.

Deano’s Deli truck

We would have liked to try their vegetarian hoagie, but we had to stick with sides at this point in order to try all the trucks. Instead, we went for their tortellini salad and were not disappointed.

Tortellini salad from Deano’s Deli truck

The next side we grabbed was from Flatiron.

The Flatiron truck

Being a burger truck, it was a little more difficult to find something vegetarian at Flatiron. However, they were willing to make their fried cauliflower without the bacon that usually comes in it. I’m glad they were, because it was probably my favorite food I ate from a truck while in LA this time!

Fried cauliflower from Flatiron

We took a break to munch on everything we had ordered so far, and after a few bites I decided to go back in for more at Baby’s Badass Burgers while Kyle and my sister continued eating.

The Baby’s Badass Burgers truck

….that’s kinda dirty

After confirming that they were, indeed, vegetarian, I ordered the “pig’s tails”, or curly fries. I then proceeded to wait way too long for them. This seemed like a truck that was determined to put out orders in the order they were received despite the size of the orders. I saw plenty of people served their burgers with curly fries on the side before they dished up a few of them for me. It seemed a little like an unnecessarily long wait time, but I’m happy to say that the fries were delicious one I did get them. They were covered with a seasoning that made ketchup almost unnecessary too.

Pig tails from Baby’s Badass Burgers

Our final stop was for dessert at Palazzolo’s Gelato and Sorbetto truck. I was amazed by the number of flavors they carried, and that they seemingly never changed since they were all painted directly on the truck. I quickly realized this was because the gelato was pre-packaged and not fresh-scooped.

Palazzolo’s Gelato truck

All three of us each got our own flavor. I went with the Peanut butter cup, which was actually filled with tiny little peanut butter cups.

Peanut butter cup gelato from Palazzolo’s

It was still yummy despite the fact that it was pre-packaged, and the pre-packaging made it possible for nutrition facts as well.

Nutrition facts on Palazzolo’s gelato

Kyle had the bourbon caramel pecan, and my sister had the Italian pistachio. Both had plenty of nuts in them as well, although all three of us noticed that there were more near the top and bottom and just gelato in the middle. I guess that’s how the chunks settle after they’re packaged.

My sister’s pistachio gelato (and her baby bump!)

The next day, Kyle and I sought out another food truck for lunch. This time we went to Tortas 2 Die 4.

The Tortas 2 Die 4 truck (which is more of a trailer)

As we ordered our food, we discovered that each torta came with a side salad, and they had several options for which kind of side salad we wanted. It was definitely a good deal for $8 each. After we ordered and paid, I put a tip in their tip jar that looked like this:

The Tortas 2 Die 4 tip jar

The cashier then yelled to his cook, “JOSE, WE’RE GOING BACK TO MEXICO!” Too funny.

Now, I’ve never considered dying for food before and thought the name might be an exaggeration, but this was some really good food. I think I might value my life a little more than whoever titled the truck though 🙂 I got the vegetarian baja torta with pasta salad on the side, and Kyle got the “valley girl” torta (which consisted of mushrooms, so I didn’t try any), and a jicama and mango side salad (which I did try and found quite yummy).

Vegetarian baja torta with pasta salad from Tortas 2 Die 4

Valley girl torta with jicama and mango salad

We were both stuffed after eating our meals, but not too long after while we were walking around Pasadena we ran into another truck! We couldn’t not try something and add another truck to our list of LA ones we’d tried. We were also very impressed with the number of vegetarian options at Baja Express. There were veggie sandwiches, burgers, and tacos, which is pretty rare for an authentic Mexican taco truck. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find this truck online anywhere. This is common for authentic taco trucks, and it didn’t help that this one had a pretty basic name.

The Baja Express truck

Since we were both still full, we just shared a veggie taco, but it was worth the lactaid I had to take to do so.

Vegetarian taco from Baja Express

That concludes the trucks I visited in LA this time around. I’m still proud of adding seven new trucks to my list, especially since we weren’t in town for very long!

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Hiller and Coupons and Soup, Oh My! July 16, 2012

Surprisingly enough, I’m writing another post less than a week after my last one. It helps that it’s summer, and it helps even more that one of the truck gatherings I went to this week I didn’t even know was a gathering until I got there! Man, I love it when that happens.

We’ll start, however, with last week’s event at Hiller Aviation. This weekly event happens every Wednesday and is put on by The Mobile Gourmet. I have known about Hiller for a few months, and during the school year I was constantly looking at the truck list and lamenting the fact that I was working and couldn’t drive up to San Carlos to taste some of the trucks that don’t always make their way down to the south bay. I knew when school was out I had to check it out at least once, and I’m glad I did. What I found was a very organized event. The museum’s sign even welcomed the trucks!

The Hiller Aviation Museum sign

There were many people scoping out the trucks along with me.

The spread at Hiller Aviation on July 11th

Another touch I appreciated was that they had tables set up for people who wanted to enjoy their food there. I always appreciate a gathering that comes with seating.

The crowd enjoying their meal at the tables

After enjoying the scenery, I zeroed in on the trucks and made my choices. I decided to go with Senor Sisig first since I had only seen them twice before and hadn’t tried everything on their menu for vegetarians yet. This time I went with their sisig nachos with tofu on top. I had never had tofu on nachos before, and I don’t know why more people don’t offer it as an option. It was delicious!

Sisig nachos with tofu from Senor Sisig

I also got a tofu taco from Nom Nom since I rarely see them as well, but I didn’t take a photo since I’ve posted one here before.

Finally, I got a chance to check out The Butterscotch Girl. Since Butterscotch on the Go stopped hitting the streets, there had been a lacking in butterscotch at food truck events, and I was excited to try this new take on butterscotch pudding.

The Butterscotch Girl truck

I ordered two of the flavors, one of the regular butterscotch pudding and one of the orange cardamom butterscotch pudding, and took them to go so I could share them with Kyle later. I liked how both were served in a container that told the ingredients, leaving nothing a mystery.

The Butterscotch Gril’s informative container

Later, when we enjoyed our pudding, we found them to be quite similar, except the orange cardamom had a hint of orange flavoring to it, naturally. Kyle preferred the orange cardamom, and I preferred the plain butterscotch, but we agreed that they were both quite tasty.

Butterscotch pudding from The Butterscotch Girl

On Friday, I headed out to Mountain View to find SF soupmobile again. They had mentioned on facebook that they were at coupons.com with six other trucks at a public event, but I hadn’t seen any other trucks mention it. I figured as long as they were there, I was interested, so I drove out and was surprised to find not one, not six, but NINE trucks gathered at coupons.com!

The spread at coupons.com on Friday

Signs that were posted explained that it was a private gathering from 11-12:30 and public from 12:30-2. I was glad I had gotten a late start and arrived at 12:40 since SF Soupmobile hadn’t explained that in their post. I have a feeling the semi-private nature is what kept other trucks from advertising. I, however, felt like the luckiest person ever on Friday the 13th.

Despite all the options, I still had a craving for soup, so my first stop was SF Soupmobile where this time I got a small bowl of their organic tomato bisque. I should have waited awhile to devour it, but I couldn’t help myself and burned the top of my mouth and tongue in the process.

Organic tomato bisque soup from SF Soupmobile

As I wandered around the event checking out the other menus and weighing my options, I decided to glance at the menu at Road Dogs despite thinking they wouldn’t have anything for me.

The Road Dogs truck

Lo and behold, I spied fine print at the bottom of their menu that said “any dog can be served veggie for $1 more”! I immediately felt quite silly for never checking out their menu before and always assuming they didn’t have anything vegetarian. However, when I went up to order they told me they were out of veggie dogs that day. I wasn’t thwarted for long, though, because I had also seen some different tater tot options on their menu. I went with the cheesy jalapeno tater tots.

Cheesy jalapeno tater tots from Road Dogs

I was pleasantly surprised with how many tater tots came in the order. In fact, I started to run out of room in my tummy and had to take some of them home for later. Definitely worth the five dollars. I look forward to trying one of their veggie dogs when they have them!

My next stop was Truckin’ Sweet, which I had only been to once before and enjoyed. This time I went with their caramel brownie bash flavor, which consists of brownie pieces and caramel swirl in vanilla ice cream.

Caramel brownie bash ice cream from Truckin’ Sweet

I found it to be more vanilla than anything else, but maybe I just got a scoop without much else in it. I tasted some of the caramel, but didn’t get much brownie at all. I think next time I’ll go back to the Voo Doo Crunch I enjoyed so much last time.

My final stop was Oaxacan Kitchen to get some of their amazing churros to go. Again, I didn’t take a photo since I’ve posted them before. I can’t emphasize enough how great their churros are though!

Today, like a crazy person, I went to SF Soupmobile yet again! This time I mostly went because they were in Mountain View again, and Kyle hadn’t gotten to try them yet. Since he works too far from Mountain View to go there during his lunch break, I picked up lunch for both of us and met up with him closer to work. I was happy to try more from their truck too. They have a rather expansive menu, and many vegetarian options. This time I went with a salad instead of soup since all of their salads can be made vegetarian. I got their Asian chicken salad sans chicken.

Asian salad from SF Soupmobile

It was as good as I hoped it would be, and I especially enjoyed the edamame and crispy wontons. There might have been too much dressing for some, but I love dressing so it didn’t bother me.

Kyle went for the organic southwestern corn chowder and a half egg salad sandwich. I had a bite of the chowder, and it was yummy. He said the same was true of the sandwich, and I have to believe he meant it because he ate it so quickly I didn’t get a photo of it before it was gone. Luckily I snagged one of the soup though!

Organic corn chowder from SF Soupmobile

I probably won’t write before then, so I’m happy to announce that next week Kyle and I are going to Los Angeles to visit my sister, and I’m hoping to hit up some LA food trucks while we’re there. I can’t wait to mix it up with new trucks!

 

Nostalgia Overload July 11, 2012

As those of you who follow me on twitter might know, this blog’s first anniversary passed last week. I accidentally missed it. Food Truck Nerd reminded me on Monday that it was coming up, so I looked up what day it was in the archives. I thought it was the 5th, but I apparently missed the fact that I had so many posts in July of 2011 that there was more than one page of them! The first post was actually written on the 3rd, and I didn’t realize that until the 5th, naturally. Ugh. By the time I realized that, I was so disappointed in myself I couldn’t bring myself to write for awhile, but now I’ve sucked it up and am back. This was mostly a result of another nostalgic moment for me yesterday, the last Edgewood Eats indefinitely. Before I write about that, though, let’s catch up on some of the truckin’ I’ve done in the couple weeks since my last post.

I caught up with Baba Kabob for the second time during one of their lunch runs. I had been craving the veggie kabobs I had the last time I tried their truck. This time they were serving them over rice I hadn’t had yet, and it was the perfect combination.

Veggie kabobs over rice from Baba Kabob

I also sought out Sugar Tree for a second taste on a lunch run. This time I even got to meet the owners and chat with them! I was sure to grab two new treats. I had to have more of the organic cotton candy, but this time I got a new flavor. I also picked up some cookies and cream popcorn, which one of the owners said had been referred to as “crack” before. I wouldn’t say that description is too far off; when I ate it I easily ate it all in one sitting.

Watermelon organic cotton candy from Sugar Tree

Cookies and cream popcorn from Sugar Tree

On the Fourth of July, Kyle and I headed to the Rose, White, and Blue parade, but we bypassed the Moveable Feast lineup to high-tail it to a new truck we hadn’t tried before, Grilled Cheese Bandits. When we found them we were greeted by a young lady handing out paper menus, which I thought was a nice touch to get the word out and prevent the usual crowding around the menu at a truck.

The front of the Grilled Cheese Bandits menu

We looked at the options, made our choices, and went up to the truck to place our orders.

The Grilled Cheese Bandits truck

Kyle decided on the Dillinger, which consisted of jack cheese and garlic on texas toast. I tried a bite, and it was a nice spin on a classic grilled cheese.

The dillinger from Grilled Cheese Bandits

I went with the Giuliano which was similar to a caprese style grilled cheese. It was smaller, but had much more flavor. I also liked how they served their sandwiches in baskets that you could then return to them after you finished; much better for the environment!

The giuliano from Grilled Cheese Bandits

My final food truck visit before I get into Edgewood Eats took place at yet another lunch run. (Do you see a pattern here?) I was in Palo Alto for a doctor appointment and happened to see on my phone that Manna was going to be at Sequoia hospital in Redwood City. I had only tried them once before and thought the roll I got was so awesome I couldn’t wait to have it again. They don’t really travel down to the south bay, so I didn’t mind going out of my way to try them again. I usually try to get something new when I go to a truck for the second time, but I couldn’t not get the best veg sushi I’d had again! I also got a Japanese soft drink to enjoy while I waited for my meal.

Ramune from Manna

They included a lollipop with the packaging for the sushi, and I thought that was a nice touch that I could enjoy on the drive home 🙂

The Manna takeout container with a lollipop

And finally, the wonderful sushi. Mmmmmm. I try not to post the same food twice on here, but I just can’t describe how great this roll is.

Veggie roll from Manna

And with that we can finally move on to yesterday’s Edgewood Eats. Like many, I am sad to see this event coming to an end. They are looking for a new location but haven’t found one yet. Edgewood was the first food truck gathering I attended in the bay area, and I’ve been going since February of 2011. I have discovered many, many new trucks there and will always associate the event with my earliest food truck memories. As I approached the shopping center for the last time before it is broken down, I saw that someone had spray painted a greeting along the wall.

A final greeting

Now, as those who follow Food Truck Nerd might know, he considers it a “Pacman” when you eat at five or more trucks at one food truck gathering. I have never attempted a Pacman, although I have inadvertently completed many Ms. Pacmans (four trucks) without trying. I didn’t exactly plan to complete a Pacman at the final Edgewood, but as I bought food and realized I was buying small portions, I also realized that a Pacman was completely within my grasp. It helped that I wasn’t rushing and was chatting with Dan Hugo throughout my time there. Unfortunately, since I didn’t realize I was achieving a Pacman until halfway through it, I didn’t take photos of all of my items. Dan will have to serve as my witness. I usually only photograph the food I haven’t had before, and some of the food I got was food I’ve tried many times!

I started my Pacman journey with a menu item at Little Green Cyclo I hadn’t tried before, tofu spring rolls. I had seen them serve duck spring rolls many times, but this was the first tofu ones. I jumped at this opportunity since spring rolls are one of my weaknesses. They were out of the peanut sauce that comes with them, but I got a soy sauce instead that complemented the spring rolls nicely.

Tofu spring rolls from Little Green Cyclo

My next stop was House of Siam on Wheels for my usual favorite, the tofu taco. Sadly, no photo was taken.

The third truck I visited was Conklin’s Catering, a truck I had only seen once before and hadn’t been too impressed with in terms of vegetarian options. This time I ordered some of their roti, which usually comes with a dipping sauce that has meat in it. Dan suggested I get a soy vegetable sauce that comes with one of the other menu items with it instead. I then waited about 20 minutes to a half hour for a little bit of bread. Dan ordered his meal after me and got it and ate it in the time it took them to bring my order up. I was rather disappointed.

Roti from Conklin’s Catering

The roti itself wasn’t bad, but the “vegetable” sauce had exactly one slice of a vegetable in it. While we waited, I heard one other vegetarian and one vegan ask about meat free options and get turned away by the truck’s staff. I try to be understanding of trucks without vegetarian options, but it really looked like they were losing business because of it, and it wouldn’t be difficult for them to just remove the beef from some of their menu items and make them vegetarian. As much as I hate to write negative reviews of trucks, I think it’s safe to say I won’t be returning to this one anytime soon.

The fourth truck of my Pacman was a much better experience. I ordered an avocado roll from We Sushi, and they let me know ahead of time that it would be 15-20 minutes. I was grateful for that knowledge because it allowed me time to go to another truck and pick up dinner for Kyle. (Don’t worry, I’m not counting that in my Pacman since I didn’t eat it!) When I came back, my food was ready when it hadn’t even been fifteen minutes yet. Unfortunately, I also didn’t take a photo of this item since I’ve had it before.

The final leg of my Pacman took place at Scoops where I tried a flavor I hadn’t had before, the raspbernet chip.

Raspbernet chip ice cream from Scoops

It was a refreshing end to my Pacman on such a hot day. By this time, Edgewood was the most crowded I’d ever seen it. Dan said they should have their last Edgewood every week with that kind of turnout.

The crowd at Edgewood Eats, July 10th

Today I ventured to Hiller Aviation to check out the trucks there for the first time, but I will save that for another post. I will leave you with a not-exactly-food-truck-related reminder that today is 7/11 which means it’s free Slurpee day! Don’t forget to get your free Slurpee. If you live in San Jose, I recommend the 7-11 on First and Gish. I’ve also had luck with the one on 11th and San Carlos in years past, but the one at 6th and St. James has told me they don’t participate in free Slurpee day before… pshaw!