It started innocently enough; On our first day in Venice, a large truck pulled up across the street from us advertising "Tacos y Burritos y Mariscos" and we wandered across over to check it out. $1.50 tacos? Sure, we'll try a couple. From that moment on, I was hooked.
I don't know how I missed out on the whole food truck culture when we were out here last year, but this year it's been unavoidable; La Isla Bonita, with its tasty tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, is parked directly across the street from us five days a week. On Abbott Kinney Boulevard, the hip and trendy section of Venice a few blocks from us, gourmet food trucks line the streets offering everything from mexican and vietnamese to waffles and hot dogs. If you've never eaten from a food truck before, you'd be surprised at how good food cooked in a truck can be. This past weekend, dozens of the areas most popular trucks gathered in West Hollywood for a Haiti relief benefit. The moment I looked at the list of trucks in attendance and saw "The Grilled Cheese Truck," I was out the door with my wallet in hand.
Seriously, there were dozens of trucks, all parked along both sides of the street. Nearly all of the trucks are brightly colored with really interesting artwork. They all sounded delicious, but I had my heart set on grilled cheese. The Grilled Cheese Truck turned out to be the favorite of the group; I waited in line -- I'm not even kidding -- for 50 minutes to get a sandwich and tater tots. Was it delicious? Absolutely. Was it worth a 50 minute wait? Definitely not. However, I am still extremely interested in their dessert option (banana puree with nutella and marshmallow sandwich) so I may have to hunt that truck down again.
From what I can tell, there are two distinct food truck "scenes" in LA: The hipster, gourmet food truck variety and the old-fashioned, good-but-cheap trucks. Some trucks, such as La Isla Bonita that parks across the street from us, can be found in the same place every day and offer a consistant and standard menu. They don't have Twitter feeds or Facebook pages, but they do have really good food at a really cheap price.
The hipster trucks on the other hand tend to be a bit more mobile; If you want to know where the Flyng Pig BBQ truck is, you should check out their Twitter Feed. They also tend to be a little more out of the ordinary in their menu offerings. The Dogtown Dogs truck, for example, sounds pretty typical in their offering of hot dogs, but they eschew the standard ketchup and mustard toppings in favor of chili, fritos, cole slaw, and other more quirky options. They're also definitely on the pricier side. After my nearly hour long wait in line at the Grilled Cheese Truck, I shelled out $10 for a sandwich and tots. For that same $10, I could have gotten a cheese quesadilla, a burrito, and two tacos at La Isla Bonita!
Checking out these food trucks has definitely piqued my interest, and I'm looking forward to hunting down the few food trucks that Columbus has to offer when we get back to Ohio. I doubt I'll be able to find a shaved ice truck, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.