The Food Truck Craze
by Jill Johnson
It may look like a fire-breathing dragon on wheels but in reality it’s a food truck with a vibrantly painted image of a Vesmuhunu on its hood, in the form of one of Sri Lanka’s colorful wooden masks. Sri Lanka, known on old globes and maps as Ceylon, has a long, colorful and spicy tradition of food, tea and storied hospitality. Ian and Nirosha Moore, proprietors of Culture Shock, continue that heritage here locally and curry favor with their curry flavors. Get your taste buds ready for some serious tantalizing. Chicken curry, cooked in exotic spices and coconut milk; fish curry, ahi tuna cooked in exotic spices and made dry with a touch of sourness; kale sautéed with onions, garlic and shredded coconut; and chicken bratwurst in a parata roti and curry sauce. Flavorful food at a fiscally sound price. A win-win situation all around.
Green and Tasty
Though technically not a truck (it’s actually a trailer), Green and Tasty has all the elements of a taco truck but with a modern, updated vibe. They cater primarily to schools but can also be hired for parties and other special events. Their specialty is making nutritionally balanced meals that kids will love. We tried their delicious quesadillas at a recent food truck festival and immediately became jealous of the students who get to eat their food every day.
Owner/chef Lori Nunes had pretty much seen it all on the employment front, having worked as a store manager, real estate agent and photographer before being lured away to study the culinary arts. Inspired by the Asian food she loves and that of her grandparents’ homeland, the Portuguese-settled Archipelago of the Azores in the North Atlantic, Lori has concocted a menu that may, at first glance, get one “kunfused,” but soon find deliciously different. Try the arepas, savory cornmeal cakes smothered with tempura-battered Kobe beef with house-made kimchi and ginger five-spice ketchup. Kudos to them for using locally grown organic fruits, vegetables and local meats. You can’t miss the big, black vintage catering truck emblazoned with a smiling white Buddha on the sides. Look for it cruising the streets and highways between Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Hopefully we can tempt them to come a little farther into Santa Barbara County sometime soon.
O Street Truck
Sacre Bleu. Andiamo. Vite! Ooh La La. Huge goldenrod and white letters spelling out some serious exclamations adorn this big red—or is it International Orange?—gourmet food truck offering up locally sourced, eclectic fare combining Mediterranean, French-Mex and French Vietnamese flavors. O Street Truck is the brainchild of Liz Bradley, whose company Olive Street Table provides French pastry pizzas and other gourmet foodstuffs to such venerable foodista venues as Williams Sonoma, Costco and local favorite, Lazy Acres. Although the “Truck” serves up products influenced by the “Table,” such as the Fromage en Provence French Pastry Pizza, at the moment it is best known for its bahn mi sandwiches. Large crusty baguettes filled to the brim with marinated beef or chicken, along with cilantro, cucumbers, carrots and a secret sauce that oozes flavor all over the place. These sandwiches are not for the napkin challenged.
Not a truck, nor a trailer, this food cart still epitomizes the essence of mobile food. Owners Carol Dailey and Jared Guthrie have come up with a menu of classic and outrageous hot dogs and all the fixings. Fan favorites include the Mac & Cheese Dog and the Picnic Dog (topped with pickles, onions, crushed potato chips, a couple types of mustard and homemade potato salad!), and we were happily surprised to see that any of them can be made with veggie dogs.
What would life be without dessert? Thank goodness there’s a food truck for that. Lickety Split serves up frozen yogurt, “Yo-Witch” yogurt and cookie sandwiches and iced coffee drinks. Matthew McBride and Alex Gubelmann have brought something special to Santa Barbara with their stylish and innovative truck. They say it’s the first mobile frozen yogurt food truck to hit Southern California. And they’ve done it right. They source their berry toppings from local farmers and use a locally roasted coffee. And their signature homemade chocolate chip cookies sandwiched with frozen yogurt are true standouts.
The Burger Bus
We wrote about Michael and Cheryl Gardner’s wonderful concept back in fall 2009, and it’s just as good if not better than ever. The burgers (and their fantastic vegetarian falafel sandwich) are a locavore’s dream. They use local produce and ingredients from the farmers market and Tri-County Produce. They even use local Telegraph beer in the batter for their scrumptious onion rings. They also offer deep-fried pickle chips and yam fries. But perhaps their biggest innovation is their Burger Bus CB&JTM—a cheeseburger and jelly made up of 1⁄3-pound patty covered in melted cheese, sweet grilled onions and seasonal Mama’s Preserves jelly, all piled high on a toasted ciabatta roll.
Update: New food trucks in Santa Barbara include:
Thai on a Truck: thaionatruck.com
Sugar and Salt Creamery: sugarandsaltcreamery.com
Finding Food on the Move
Facebook: Group: Culture Shock SB
Green and Tasty
Facebook: Page: Green & Tasty
Mobile Cafe(s) 1, 2 and 3
O Street Truck
The Burger Bus
Facebook: Page: The Burger Bus
Jill Johnson is an artistic soul with an inquisitive mind and a hearty appetite for life...and food. You can find her musings of spilled milk and cookie crumblings at her blog, cookiesinheaven.blogspot.com.