From gourmet chefs experimenting with tacos to funky ice cream sandwiches, you might be surprised by what you can find on the streets of L.A. Food trucks are a fun way to sample the cutting edge of cuisine in any city, and the Los Angeles food truck selection brings to the table (er, truck counter) a blend of ethnic cuisine and cheeky takes on old-school staples. Granted, these culinary delights on wheels can be a challenge to track down, so we’ve included Twitter handles where appropriate, as well as Web sites—so you can find their exact location on any given day.
What happens when a former fine-dining chef experiments with street tacos? A serious upgrade to the food-truck world. Although Wes Avila trained under world-class chefs—such as Walter Manzke of L’Auberge Carmel and Alain Ducasse at Le Centre de la Formation in Paris—his roots have always been back in his home neighborhood of East Los Angeles. Avila set out on a mission in 2012 to bring gourmet food to the masses, starting with pop-up shops in obscure locations—garages, stairwells—before buying his own food truck. The mobile restaurant medium allowed him to test creative flavor combinations without the pressure of a white-tablecloth setting, and to be able to build a changing weekly menu based on what’s available locally. Using unexpected taco bases like oxtail, lamb kidney, sweet potato, or octopus, Avila is constantly upping his own game to deliver the fresh and new to L.A. diners. Find the Guerrilla Tacos truck here.
The Grilled Cheese Truck
Take a childhood favorite, put an adult spin on it, and the masses will flock—at least that was the thought process for the creators of this popular L.A. truck, which offers variations on the nostalgic bread-and-cheese combo (locate trucks here). The Plain and Simple sandwich has six cheese options, or you can turn it up a notch: The Cheesy Mac & Rib is filled with sharp cheddar, house-smoked barbecue pork, Southern macaroni and cheese, and caramelized onions. The Pepperbelly Melt combines fire-roasted tomato salsa with habanero jack cheese and a familiar crunch from Fritos.
Street food is often associated with indulgence—but not the organic, sustainable eats from the Green Truck, which goes so far as to use leftover vegetable oil to power its wheels. Menu items like the “Kale Yeah Bowl”—this is health-conscious Southern California, after all—come loaded with superfoods like quinoa, carrots, and raw beets, and of course there are Paleo and gluten-free options for the choosing. Truck stops are located here.
The connection between a hot dog stand and acclaimed chef Alice Waters may seem like a stretch, but the creator behind Let’s Be Frank (@letsbefrank on Twitter) has close ties to the famous Chez Panisse as the restaurant’s former “meat forager.” Sue Moore and her business partner Larry Bain support local farmers committed to humane animal practices with their grass-fed beef truck. The menu keeps things simple—choose from one of six dog options and top it with onions and/or the signature Spicy Devil Sauce.
Many taco trucks have come onto the Los Angeles scene since chef Raul Ortega opened his truck in 2002, but none has matched it yet. Ortega mastered the formula for his famous Taco Dorado (a crispy shrimp taco): shrimp, vegetables, and spices inside a corn tortilla, then fried and topped with fresh avocado and a salsa made with chili, tomato, and cabbage. Seafood lovers should also try the Poseidon, a tostada piled high with fish and shrimp ceviche, octopus, and aguachile. Its Twitter handle is @mariscosjalisco.
The two founders of Coolhaus bonded over a love of architecture and a passion for food when they decided to turn an old postal van into a roving ice cream sandwich shop in 2008. Natasha Case and Freya Estreller create funky combinations inspired by surprising places and turn them into menu items, such as Whiskey Lucky Charms, the seasonal “Netflix” Ice Cream infused with white-cheddar popcorn and Doritos, and the strawberry shortcake homage known as Buttermilk, Biscuits & Strawberry. The truck (found on Twitter at @coolhausla) became so popular that it now has 10 nationwide trucks, packaged sandwiches in Whole Foods, and a cookbook devoted to its custom funky sandwiches.
This iconic food truck is often credited as being one of the first to tap the power of social media, which has earned it celebrity status since opening in 2008. Chef Roy Choi’s unexpected mix of Korean and Mexican flavors—as in kimchi quesadillas, or the short rib taco, with caramelized Korean barbecue and cilantro-lime relish in a chili-soy vinaigrette—remains a fan favorite. The truck's weekly schedule can be found here.
In a restaurant setting, chowing down on a massive handheld sushi roll seems weird—but from a food truck? The delicious (and convenient) idea of a sushi burrito makes perfect sense. Jogasaki (@jogasakiburrito on Twitter) takes tortillas or sesame-studded soy paper and stuffs them full of sweet sticky rice with go-to sushi favorites like spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, eel, and cucumber. If the signature menu item isn’t fusion enough for you, they’ve even been known to offer spicy tuna nachos served on top of a pile of Doritos.