Local Adventure: Trains, Trucks, and Tornado Potatoes

The Grand Opening of the TruckIt Fest

At recent estimate there are over 10,000 food trucks feeding Los Angeles. That’s become the first stat I turn to when skeptical friends ask if there’s any sort of a real food scene in L.A. I’m splitting my time between Northern and Southern California these days and it’s as clear as ever that there’s a cultural disconnect across the state. Many a bay area person thinks of anything south of Big Sur as alien territory, but I’ve come to realize the two places are more alike than not — especially when it comes to street food.

I don’t have the free time to stalk the latest or greatest food truck so I’m keen on events like San Francisco’s Off the Grid, where trucks come together like a makeshift food court. That said, when a similar concept launched this weekend in Los Angeles, I was among the first in line. Coined the TruckIt Fest, the event will congregate food trucks, crafts, booze, and music on the first Sunday of every month at downtown L.A’s Union Station.

Interior Hall at Union Station
Interior Hall at Union Station

Union Station is one of those architectural gems that makes me proud to be a native Angeleno. I’ve long loved art deco architecture so part of the appeal of going was being able to gallivant about the station as if it were my own home. Well, my own home were I to invite 40 or so food trucks and a few bands to hang for the afternoon.

Salt and Vinegar Tornado Potato
Salt and Vinegar Tornado Potato

If there were an award for best food presentation, I would have nominated this corkscrew fried potato known as a Tornado Potato. At first glance, I wrote it off as nothing more than novelty, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to order one up as a kick off of the day’s eating adventures. To its credit, it was a fun cross of fries and a chip with a clean, potato taste, but, the steep $5 price tag overshadowed that like a reminder that it was at the most basic, nothing but a potato on a stick.

Peruvian Ceviche Cone
Peruvian Ceviche Cone

I’m a long-time fan of Border Grill so I bee-lined for the Border Grill truck as soon as I caught sight of it. In addition to my regular green corn tamal order, we tried out this Peruvian ceviche, which had as much vibrancy of flavor as it does color. Turns out we timed our BG truck visit perfectly as I looked up from my snacking to see that the line had spontaneously multiplied so we refrained from another round and trotted off to our hunt down our next taste.

Sita's Surprise from The Dosa Truck
Sita’s Surprise from The Dosa Truck

Both the India Jones and the Dosa Truck were in attendance but we’re quickly getting full and decided to decide between them. The India Jones truck has some pitch-perfect butter chicken but, since my friends hadn’t tried a dosa before, we zeroed in on the Dosa Truck. The dosa, like an Indian burrito, is among the most perfect snack when made right. We ordered up a few different ones but this sweet-spicy sweet potato dosa came out the clear winner.

The trucks we didn't make it to
All the trucks we didn’t taste

At that point, I hit a food wall, so we missed out on many of the other trucks in attendance including crowd favorites such as Ragin’ Cajun, Barbie’s Q, Global Soul, and the Mac n Roll truck. I was about to succumb to the defeat of there being just too much food when I happily recalled that the event is going to be a monthly affair so I filed away those trucks for next time.

balsamic-fig ice cream sandwich with salted chocolate cookie
balsamic-fig ice cream sandwich with salted chocolate cookie

Thought we had technically called it quits on food, we were easily tempted when we came across the Coolhaus truck. The choose-your-own-flavor adventure lead us to this combo of balsamic-fig ice cream and salted chocolate cookies and it was polished off as though we had all forgotten about our stuffed bellies. My friend proclaimed she wished there was an event like this every weekend, but for me, I was quietly thankful as it’ll take about a month for me to work up the eating stamina to do it all again.

Columns Local Adventure Restaurants Travel