By now we can all agree that breweries in Orange County have a secret tractor beam that pulls us in. Gourmet food trucks, having so much metal with pots and pans and such, are also magnetically attracted to the strong force of the brewery tractor beams. There’s no other explanation for it! I wanted to spend a little time talking about some of them as they are such a huge part of our beer culture. A food truck bite, pint, and growler fill is fast becoming an average evening for a lot us beer types.
Let me start off by reminiscing about my first gourmet food truck experience: As my work migrated to Beigeland (Irvine), I found the Teller/Michelson lunch truck meetup. The large parking lot is packed with cars, usually around ten food trucks, a parade of professionals, a herd of hipsters and a flock of foodies. My first truck? Seabirds. I figured there’s no way in hell vegan food would give me a gnoshing greasy bubble gut! The other thing that attracted me to their line? The long queue of thin swanky gals, of course. If you’re going to be stuck in a line for an unknown period; lovely young ladies make the time pass more quickly.
I asked a couple girls in front of me if they’ve eaten vegan tacos before, “all the time”, answered one of them, oblivious to my crude undertones. “I bet vegan tacos aren’t fishy in the least.” I muttered, only to be ignored as they pretended to answer phone calls. Typical Irvine response! Approaching the front, I was greeted by Stephanie Morgan, a simply attractive and not-gaunt vegan brunette with a wrist tattoo of a girl being swept away by helium balloons. “What can I getcha?” as she taps her pen on the ordering pad. I settled on a trifecta of the taco offerings, a BBQ Tofu, Jerked Jackfruit, and a beer battered avocado taco. I was enamored at the simplicity and complex array of flavors for being vegan. The hot sauce? Adequately hot and flavorful. I should have prefaced this by saying I’m not vegan, or vegetarian for that matter. All food is food; if it’s tasty, I’ll eat it.
A couple nights later I was sipping some Saison Rue at the Bruery in Placentia as Seabirds rolled up. On the menu? Bruery beer battered avocado tacos. My vibrating internal giddiness didn’t stop for at least an hour. I smiled so hard it hurt. “This, is what love must feel like” I pondered silently like a teenager in a whorehouse. Just saying the name Seabirds or Stephanie Morgan makes me swoon to this day. Sadly, the birds have avoided Breweries since being on The Great Food Truck Race on FoodTV this past year. I heard rumors that they’ll opening a brick and mortar next door to Jason Quinn’s (of the Lime Truck) The Playground in Santa Ana. Please come back birds!
What is better than the swooning puppy love over vegan food? The flavorgasm that is the Rolling Sushi Van of course! Yes, sushi from a moving vehicle. I would have been hesitant over ordering sushi from a van; but a brand new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van with a full sushi kitchen seems totally appropriate. I was at Bootleggers Brewery in Fullerton when I first tried Sushi Chef Chris’s rolls. The presentation, freshness, flavor and service are impeccable. I always thought pizza was beer’s best pairing, however this combo blows it out of the water like a Zero on a PT Boat (lol WW2 humor).
My other love comes in a bright green truck, winners of the Great Food Truck race, The Lime Truck! Whenever they’re at a brewery, it makes an easy sell for my wife to join as the Lamb Sandwich is one of her favorite things in the world. I’m privy to ordering an Ultimate Taco as 12 hour pulled pork with honey slaw, homemade guac and cotija cheese pair nicely with just about anything. It’s a steal for $3! We usually split a side and have never been disappointed. Everything from fried almond crusted goat cheese to baby bok choy are great and satisfying.
Shortstop BBQ does some interesting SoCal style BBQ and hits the perfect price point and serving size quotient. Any time you can get a grilled chicken sandwich with goat cheese and fresh greens for $5 and have it be fresh and delicious you’ve got something special. The serving size is “just right”, allowing you to easily fit in a couple beers without being over stuffed. Rancho A Go Go is another BBQ option, but they usually seem to be out of half of their menu.
Favorite Newcomer: The Viking Truck. Viking does gourmet hot dogs either fried in batter or on a bun; same price. I wish they would be true Vikings and take over Hot Dog on a Stick! My fave: The Loki Dog: Spicy Kielbasa, red peppers, jalapeno, bacon, cheddar cheese, spicy brown mustard, homemade ketchup and motherfucking SRIRACHA to top it off. The top of my head is sweating just thinking about it! Their Dragon Eggs (tater tots) are also great food for pillaging your hunger! Topped with black stout chili, cheddar cheese, ketchup and sour cream. Their brats, buns, everything are all great. My kid likes the plain hot dog and cheese tots. Bootleggers Black Phoenix and the Dragon Eggs is a great pairing.
Dos Chinos – Inventive mexi-asian fusion. $5 burritos, $2 tacos. Hollywood Chicken is a flavorgasm! Kind of like Kogi without the ridiculous line.
Home Skillet Truck – Again, love the $5 price point and smaller portions. Lamb Burger has it all!
Sexy Burger – My burger was plain and fell apart. In this day and age a bun should stay together to be sexy. I don’t want my burger to look like a Kim Kardashian sat on it! Butter Face Burger, more like it.
BaconMania makes me feel like I’m going to die just reading the menu. If it’s your only option, get the BLT. The menu reminds me of the OC Fair! I love bacon, but I guess I’m not manic about it. Perhaps put an AED machine on the side of the truck and I’ll eat there more often.
Garlic Scapes – Appropriate name as garlic seemed to somehow escape from my grilled cheese. I ordered it with the intention of torturing my wife with crazy garlic breath with no such luck. “HHHHHIIIIII HHHHHHONEY!!! SMEEEELLLL MYYYYY BREAAAATH”. “Beat it cheese breath”.
Slapfish – more like bukkakefish am I right? So much sauce drowned everything into a salty oblivion. I love seafood, so much that I actually like to taste it! I hear they’re opening a restaurant as well, bring napkins or some wet wipes. If I go, I’m dressing like the Gorton’s Fisherman, don’t hate.
Brats Berlin – Any time you peak over the $5 mark for your base items, the food better be aces. The casing on my brat was so thick and intense I had to remove it. Nothing creepier than a guy removing casing from a brat, just sayin’. I’m German too. I like casing.