This past weekend the family headed downtown for the first festival in Long Beach devoted to the burgeoning gourmet food truck.
I have been intrigued by this culture for awhile. When I worked at Harveys the lunch truck would come around (and yes, we did call it the Roach Coach) and it was really just what you might think of in a lunch truck. Fast. Cheap. Greasy. Unhealthy. Accessible. It was a novelty and a convenience, but not much more.
Since then, Los Angeles has had a few gem gourmet food trucks. There's the cool factor of many of these Haute Coach's availability. They alert followers via online social networks of their where-abouts, so only those "on the list" know about them. It's titillating because you can't just go on a whim, and you have be in on the secret. It's very Hollywood.
Sceneadvisor.com does a good job describing the trend:
"The recession's effect on the North American dining scene has been well-documented. In the past few years, some of the continent's finest restaurants have either made the move towards "casual gourmet" or shut their doors altogether. But there has also been a move in the opposite direction; rather than running for the nearest McDonald's, many diners have sought solace in "gourmet" versions of downscale standards, and some savvy entrepreneurs, recognizing the new demand, aim to deliver. Literally."
Well, hip or not. I love it. We have three little kids, so being seated for a meal can be daunting. But walking up to a truck, keeping Emmett enthralled by the big tires while ordering, and then just planting ourselves on a curb or even in our car... so nice. And normally, we'd have to hit Taco Bell for such a comfort, which brings it down about 37 notches. Being able to have a potato taco with pickled onions from world-famous Border Grill, kids chowing on truly healthy and delicious beans n' rice all while playing duck duck goose in the grass! A dream!
The Fest was super-fantastic because we got to try lots of stuff all at once. Because some lines were long, our food would settle, making room for the next round and allowing us to munch all afternoon. (Oh, I love munching all afternoon.) We were with friends, so standing in line was a great chance to chit-chat and play with all of the kids.
A band of police officers, Blue Steel, played popular-among-30-something-hits, which was fun. I danced to Modern English with the kids and crooned some Rod Stewart while waiting for Mark to return with the grub.
Okay, onto the food. We enjoyed - thoroughly:
-=-Calbi tofu tacos. I love tacos. and I love tofu. These were really tasty, and priced well.
|This is a photo of 1 tofu, 1 shrimp taco|
-=-Border Grill (I was so excited! This is one of my favorite places ever.) We had the sweet corn tamale cone, potato tacos and rice n' beans. It was one of those embarrassing moments when I kept murmuring "mmm... this... is.. soo ...oooo. gooood..." to myself. It. Was. Awesome.
-=-The Place LA, we had a mediocre veggie burger and soggy fries, but the service was very good.
-=-World Fare, we had the truffle mac n' cheese balls, which probably taste great right out of the frier, and taste pretty good as we had them. They are rich enough that the side of 3 balls was enough for four of us. The goocher was their drinks: Strawberry Basil Lemonade and Orange Lavender Iced Tea. Both drinks were out of control yummy. They also have an upper-deck dining area, which is really cool.
-=-For dessert we checked out the Sweets Truck but couldn't really figure out what they had, the signage wasn't so hot. We wanted to get some ice cream sandwiches from Cool Haus but at the end of our stint there, the line was just too long. (readers who waited for Cool Haus - was it worth it??) So we went back to World Fare, where they were smart enough to have a separate table set up selling quick-grab desserts. We had the Cheesecake Red Velvet Cupcake (Elliette's choice) and a Brownie (Emmett's choice) and both were marvelous. The brownie, especially, was lip-smacking, nice crackly top crust, and very moist and perfectly dense center.
The admission price of $8 might have deterred us, honestly, if Border Grill hadn't been there (I am a super fan, seriously) but the good news it went to the Adopt-A-Teacher and LB City College Student Scholarships programs. (Kids were free, and you could pre-purchase for $6) Being married to a teacher myself I kind of felt the solidarity in the moment. The parking fee of $10 was steep, but I blame that on the convention center. Next time we'll definitely take the free Passport there.
The Grilled Cheese Truck was also there, but we didn't partake. This is why:
That long line goes allllll the waaaaay to that orange truck. I'll try and catch in LA soon, though, the menu looked yummy and very fun!
All in all, we are excited for it to come again. The location at Rainbow Lagoon was really cool, the layout was great, and the selection was fun. I also loved the live music.
Did any of you go? What did you think?
See you there next time!