By: Esther Rubio-Sheffrey
Foodies throughout the county are tingling with anticipation because the biggest food truck festival ever to take place in San Diego is only a few days away. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC) will host its first annual Gourmet Food Truck Festival on Saturday, August 20 from noon to 6 pm.
Forty-four of Southern Californiaâ€™s hottest food trucks will gather to compete for your appetite, and admission to the food truck area is free with paid racetrack admission. This means that for as little as $3 (Diamond Club members) you get access to a large and eclectic array of options that span from breakfast to dinner, and even dessert.
â€œFood truck festivals have been very trendy in L.A. and we felt it was a good time for us to put something together,â€ said DMTC Promotions Manager Chris Bahr, adding that they maxed out the space in order to include as many trucks as possible. Many of the trucks, like Nom Nom with almost 20,000 fans, have gained large followings due to exposure on Food Network TV shows and other popular media outlets with an emphasis on food.
For example, Fresh Fries, which features fries in just about every style, including dessert fries, has received high compliments from Adam Richman, host of â€œMan vs. Food Nation.â€ Rumor has it that Richman may even take part in a burrito-eating contest on Saturday, held at the White Rabbit truck, the first Filipino truck to hit the streets of L.A. Many contenders from the first two seasons of â€œThe Great Food Truck Raceâ€ hosted by Chef Tyler Florence, will also be in attendance, and they include: Devilicious, Lime, Nom Nom, and Crepes Bonaparte.
â€œThere are several trucks that look really interesting,â€ Bahr said. â€œIf you look at the list every kind of food you can imagine and want will be available in one location. You just cannot go wrong. Many traditional food truck items have been revamped with gourmet ingredients, yet it is very inexpensive. The average purchase is between $5 and $7, for fabulous and often organic food.â€
Roxana Javadi, part owner of Fresh Fries recommends patience and has this advice for new and expert foodies. â€œEveryone is going to wait in line for a ridiculously longer time than they may be used to. So if you want to taste a little bit of everything, split up and get multiple orders for everyone in your group and share it all family-style!â€
Whether you heed Javadiâ€™s advice or not, be sure to bring plenty of cash because not all food trucks accept credit and debit cards. What follows is a brief description of each truck, with a link to individual websites so you can start teasing those taste buds.
L.A. & Orange County Food Trucks
Bacon Mania: Nothing says good all-American man food like bacon. This changing menu features options that include main dishes, sweets, and appetizers like the â€œBacon Ball Trioâ€ – bacon-wrapped bites of Macâ€™n Cheese, Petite Filet Mignon, and PB&J on crust-less Wonder Bread.
Brats Berlin: Gourmet German bratwurst served in traditional flavors as well as spicy Cajun and Chicken with Jalapeno and Onion, all topped with a variety of toppings from sauerkraut to sweet peppers. They have Belgian Fries too!
Buttermilk: Are you too busy to make the most important meal of the day, or simply crave breakfast after a long â€œfunâ€ night? Chef Gigi Pascual makes his own buttermilk pancake, waffle and donut batters for creations like red velvet chocolate chip pancake bites, cake donut holes, Hawaiian breakfast sliders, and fried chicken served on a buttermilk biscuit with house made cinnamon waffles.
Crepes Bonaparte: Named Gaston by its owners, this crepe truck provides French crepes on the go. Breakfast crepes like the â€œWake-Me-Up Specialâ€ includes egg, mozzarella, onion and pesto and dessert crepes like â€œBig Banana Man Bananaâ€ features caramel and whipped cream.
Dogtown Dogs: It is a sophisticated variation of traditional hot dog favorites with innovative spins, like the â€œMorning Commuteâ€ a hot dog wrapped in crispy, hardwood smoked bacon and topped with a fried egg.
Fresh Fries: Served in a cone, you can have the fries naturally cut, curly or even choose sweet potatoes, with plenty of spicy and savory toppings like curry or garlic mayo, and wasabi ketchup. Fancy fries, like the â€œFiesta Friesâ€ feature green chili guacamole with sour cream and their â€œPeanut Butter Cupâ€ features sweet potatoes with nutella and peanut butter.
Fry Smith: Treated as the main dish and not as a side, these French fries are topped with culinary creations like the all-beef chili flavored with chocolate and beer or kimchi and heirloom pork under gooey cheddar cheese. Chefs also focus on using humanely raised ingredients like Jidori chicken and cage-free eggs.
Georgeâ€™s Greek Truck: Georgeâ€™s Greek CafÃ© has been serving Greek food in the heart of LA for more than a decade, and now they have gone mobile too. Made fresh daily, the Mediterranean contemporary menu emphasizes healthy and local organic ingredients.
Great Balls on Tires: Known by its fans as G-BOT, this truck serves meatballs and other savory balls of food served like sliders with unique toppings. Aside from the traditional meatball, options include the â€œIncrediBallâ€ made with ground Kobe beef, or the â€œBallywoodâ€ featuring Garam Masala chicken.
Grilled Cheese Patrol: Try a variety of grilled cheeses on wheat or French bread, like â€œThe Not Guiltyâ€ (pepper jack cheese with a blend of sautÃ©ed mushrooms,Â carrots, zucchini and sliced red onions) or â€œThe Gas Chamberâ€ (sliced roast beef, chili, sharp cheddar, and red onion).
Kabob nâ€™ Roll: A large selection of vegan and vegetarian items that are fresh, healthy and delicious, served alongside authentic Egyptian chicken, beef, lamb and shrimp dishes. Popular dishes include falafel, eggplant dip, and Zatar pizza.
Lardon: Bacon, bacon, and more bacon. Every menu creation features bacon in one form or another, like the Lark Brownies with bacon nutella spread, and the chicken wings covered in bacon hot sauce.
Lime: This is crisp, refreshing, California Beach cuisine. Signature items include crispy gnocchi, carnitas fries, and a Janes Addiction Quesadilla with prosciutto and asparagus, and the Ultimate Taco features pork thatâ€™s been marinated for 10 hours!
Lobsta Truck: With New England imported lobster and bread, eating at this truck is like visiting a lobster shack from Maine without leaving California. In addition to lobster rolls, other menu items include crab rolls, New England clam chowder, Cape Cod chips, and fresh squeezed lemonade.
Lomo Arigato: Second generation Japanese American and chef, Eric Nakata creates Peruvian style fries, fried rice and noodles with tri-tip, chicken, or tofu, and tomatoes, onions, cilantro, soy sauce, and red wine.
Ludo Truck: Jonathan Gold is an award winning chef and Frenchman with 13 years of training at multiple Michelin 3 star-rated restaurants. On board his first food truck, he has created the most succulent fried chicken that is prepared over three days, and served with homemade sauces, perfectly crisp fries, lavender honey biscuits, and freshly chopped slaw.
Naan Stop: Authentic home-style North Indian food meets the sandwich. Naanwiches featured fresh naan used as a wrap, and stuffed with classic Indian spiced meats, such as tandoori chicken, kabobs and lamb, sautÃ©ed onions and peppers, fresh spinach leaves and different chutneys. Side items include samosas and masala fries.
Nom Nom: With almost 20,000 fans, this popular food truck serves 12â€™â€™ sandwiches and tacos inspired by traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Made to order, the food is healthy, quick, affordable and loaded with local ingredients.
Slapyo Mamatruck: Get your soul food fix, with favorites like fried chicken, catfish, po’ boys, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, greens, cornbread, peach cobbler, banana pudding.
Sweets Truck: Self-described as a daily reminder that life is sweet and life is good, this mobile bakeshop and gourmet coffeehouse is loaded with the best-of-the-best from LAâ€™s professional bakers, pastry chefs and coffee roasters. Signature items include red velvet cookies, cupcake shooters, brownies, a variety of cakes in all sizes.
Tapa Boy: Loaded with secret recipes passed down by their grandmothers, these people serve authentic Filipino dishes like Tocin, caramelized, tender chunks of pork, with a special vinegar sauce.
The Boba Truck: Â This mobile tea and coffee brewery uses an exclusive process in order to brew each of their more than 30 options as they are ordered, to ensure freshness and to keep the antioxidants intact. All options are served either hot or cold.
The Flip Truck: A variety of sliders on daily baked bread with local Artisan cheeses that feature All-Natural Red Angus Beef from Montana, American-Style Kobe Beef from Hawaii, Wild-Caught Pacific Ocean Ahi, All-Natural Jidori chicken, and the freshest organic or local Farmerâ€™s Market produce.
Vesuvio LA: Traditional Italian food with a few surprises. Items like the Rice Balls, a breaded and deep fried mixture of rice, diced salami, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper, with a mozzarella core are among the appetizers, pasta and sandwich options.
Vintage Longboards Ice Cream: Brought to you by surf lovers, this ice cream is created with passion and timeless recipes that combine rich ingredients to create mouthwatering flavors like Cookies â€˜n Cream, Mango and Strawberry.
Waffles de Liege: Unlike the more commonly known Belgium waffle, Liege waffles are made from rich dough infused with Belgian pearl sugar that gives Liege waffles its signature caramelized look and taste. Try it plain or with a variety of toppings.
White Rabbit Truck: Owner Michael Dimaguila states his original fusion cuisine is not your typical Filipino food. His creations are made from scratch and blend elements of American and Mexican cuisines with his favorite Filipino childhood foods. Signature dishes include the Sisig Burrito, White Chocolate Champorado, and a variety of Macarons.
San Diego Food Trucks
Asian Persuasion: These fast-food inspired creations represent Asian fusion at its best. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean influences can been seen in everything from their FOB Tacos and Vegetable Chow Mein, to their Bangkok Sliders.
Bitchin Burgers: Made from organic grass fed beef and topped with organic produce from local farms, these burgers are tasty. Options include the Chipotle Gouda Burger with Bacon, which comes with chipotle aioli, smoked Gouda, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onions; and The Black nâ€™ Blue Burger, featuring blackened spices, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and balsamic grilled onions.
Chop Soo-ey: Chef Deborah Scott of Little Italyâ€™s Indigo Grill is the mastermind behind these Asian fusion creations, that include items like the fried shrimp taco with jalapeno-pineapple slaw or the Kahula Pulled Pork, served on onion roll, with apple cider slaw and an onion ring.
Corner Cupcakes: These ladies serve up freshly baked-from-scratch cupcakes in a variety of flavors like Red Velvet and White with Raspberry Butter Cream Frosting, plus they make giant cupcakes too!
Devilicious: Simple and sinfully good creations like their most popular item the Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese, with big chunks of fresh lobster, and the BBBLT, tons of bacon topped with a fried egg.
Flippin Pizza: Get 18â€™â€™ custom pies and favorites like the Bronx with pepperoni, sausage, onions, black olives, green peppers, mushrooms and garlic; or single slices and appetizers like garlic knots or pepperoni bites.
Food Farm: Using all local and seasonal ingredients, this husband and wife team adds a culinary touch to standard truck favorites like their Grass-Fed Sliders served on a Hawaiian roll with mustard marinated onions and blue cheese, or the Soyrizo chili fries with beans, tomato, cilantro, cheddar and soyrizo.
Kal-bi-Q: Korean and Mexican fusion, featuring tacos, burritos and rice bowls with choice of marinated rib eye, spicy pork, or chicken with cucumber kimchee.
Mangia Mangia Mobile: The cityâ€™s first gourmet Italian truck, serves up tradition food featuring pastas, Paninis and salads with fresh salmon, cage free chicken, and farmerâ€™s marketÂ tomatoes.
Miho Gastro Truck: Uses fresh, local, and thoughtfully sourced ingredients to create hand crafted street food that is affordable. Menu changes daily, but features staples like the Bloody Mary Burger, made with grass fed beef, blue cheese, wax pepper, and green beans.
Opera Caffe Mobile: â€œFor the love of foodâ€ is their motto, and this team uses the same high quality, fresh ingredients, and passion that has distinguished Opera Caffe restaurant located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, to bring traditional Italian dishes to San Diegoâ€™s streets.
Street Eats: A gourmet truck that features items such as Ginger-Soy Braised Short Rib and Chicken Vera Cruz Burrito on its menu. All of their culinary creations are inspired from around the globe and priced under $10.
Super Q Food Truck: With all-American BBQ elements from North Carolina, Texas and St. Louis, this truck claims to have the best hickory smoked BBQ this side of the Mississippi! The slow hickory smoked BBQ is prepared at Kaminskis BBQ & Sports Lounge in Poway and transported all over town.
Sweet Treats: With a sleek and hip truck painted to look like a 1950s Hot Rod, these guys are equipped to hold over 2,000 ice cream bars along with gourmet cupcakes, brownies, cookies, chips, and drinks.
Two for the Road: It is American comfort food with a twist. Each week they have a few regional specials like New England Lobster Rolls, Miami Mojito Chicken Sandwiches, Seattle Salmon Burgers, or Captain Crunch Crab Cakes.
The Gathering Spot: Common and ordinary street foods we all know and love are turned into extraordinary culinary creations. From TJ-style tacos to bar-style sliders, their goal is to make you happy while striving to continuously rock your palate with street food that impresses.
â€¨Find your favorite truck easily with the Gourmet Food Truck Festival map available online.