Archive for the ‘Santa Monica’ Category

Santa Monica's Food Trucks: A Four-Day Odyssey

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on March 5, 2010

This week I’ve been visiting family in my hometown, Santa Monica.

While I knew that LA’s new food trucks have exploded in the last several months, honestly I haven’t had any except Kogi BBQ and Don Chow Tacos once a few months back.

On this trip, I finally got the chance to try many of them.


My brother Alex and I arrived on Sunday and on Monday morning I knew that I wanted to hit one of these new trucks. I’d recently stumbled upon the new Cluster Truck map, an awesome new map of LA’s food truck scene.

I spotted Bool BBQ on the map on 26th St. and Pennsylvania St.

This is just about six blocks from the house I grew up in! Alex and I hopped in the car and when we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find two other trucks joining the party as well: Yum Yum Bowls and Uncle Lau’s Island BBQ.

I ordered some delicious bibimbap from Bool (thanks for the free sample!), and a Korean taco from Uncle Lau’s.


The next day, I returned to this same spot for some delectable breakfast with my good friend Dallas Bluth at the Buttermilk Truck. (Astute readers will remember that I interviewed owner Gigi Pascual back in September.)

After breakfast, we noticed that the new Louks To Go truck was setting up.


My good buddy David P. Jacob met me for lunch at the famous Kogi BBQ truck, where he was kind enough to drop nearly a pair of Jacksons for a Korean feast, including four short rib tacos, four sliders, and a blackjack quesadillas (so amazing!), and a pair of awesome Korean sodas.


Rachel Rosmarin and I hit up the Culver City location of Let’s Be Frank, where I dropped a little over a Hamilton on both a brat and a hot, with some of that killer devil sauce.


Who’s going to be out on the Westside tonight? :-)

Santa Monica to open new food truck lot today

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on January 4, 2010

I’m proud to announce that my hometown of Santa Monica will be opening up a dedicated food truck lot this morning starting at 11 am.

This is not unlike Portland’s famed food truck lot, where 12 carts/trucks are parked at the corner of Southwest 9th St. and Alder Ave.

Despite recent grumblings about food trucks downtown, the city by the bay has agreed to devote an unused car lot on the corner of 14th St. and Broadway Santa Monica Blvd. for the newly-formed SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association (apparently the nouveau food trucks’ answer to the AsociacĂ­on de Loncheros?) to operate a “Gourmet Food Truck Corner.”

Details so far are scant, but according to the flyer (above), some of LA’s most popular trucks will be there, including Kogi, Barbie’s Q, Lomo Arigato, Nom Nom, Don Chow Tacos, Coolhaus and many others. The lot will operate at least starting today from 11 am until 8 pm. No word on if this will become an everyday thing.

If you’re out at the lot today, please send in pics!

It ain’t over in Santa Monica, my hometown.

That Bayside District Corporation still has its knickers in a twist and is ready to kick things up a notch.

According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, the BDC is going to ask the City Council to consider new legislation restricting the number and location of trucks operating in the Promenade (downtown Santa Monica) area.

“While we understand that these mobile food vendors can be a very good thing for Downtown and any area, we are concerned that if we have a proliferation of those trucks they could have a negative impact on businesses,” Kathleen Rawson, the CEO of Bayside, told the paper.

Again, not surprisingly, the argument presented here is that the restaurant owners feel that “it’s not fair” they have to pay high rent when the trucks can just zoom away when the clientele disappear. Again, my response is: boo freakin’ hoo. I’d bet that nearly all of the restaurants on the Promenade, and especially the high-end joints nearer to the beach have liquor licenses. Are you honestly telling me that a place like I Cugini, with its $15 lunch entrees, is competing with the likes of Kogi?

The paper adds that already:

food trucks to have a vendor permit through the Santa Monica Police Department and a business license through City Hall, Currently, trucks can conduct business in any legal parking spot but are limited to 30 minutes after which they must move at least 100 feet away. Food truck owners have said that it takes longer than 20 to 30 minutes to fill the orders.

The trucks must also be located at least 10 feet away from the entrance of doors, vestibules, driveways and outdoor dining areas of any business.

I’m not really sure how much more regulated they can be.

Santa Monica resists nouveau food trucks

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on October 30, 2009

Nope, it’s not just oppressive Los Angeles that wants to fight the newest, twittering generation of taco and food trucks. Sadly, it’s my hometown, Santa Monica.

This coastal outpost of liberalism is upset about these new trucks, as big business on the Third Street Promenade — or rather, the businesses parent association, the Bayside District Corporation — says that the trucks should have to pay to do business in this high foot-traffic area. At the corporation’s October 22 meeting, boardmembers were regaled with a presentation by the local police department on “Food Vending Truck ordinances and enforcement options.”

If the title alone didn’t suggest that there was much warm-and-fuzziness between the likes of Bayside and trucks like Nom Nom, the Santa Monica Daily Press provided an account that wasn’t exactly encouraging, either.

“I think if these people benefit from the Bayside District, they should have to pay for it,” said Barbara Bryan, a board member who owns the Interactive Cafe on Broadway, in an interview with the paper.

Of course, as the paper notes, all the trucks that operate in Santa Monica must have a vendor permit from the local police department and a business license from the city to operate legally. City ordinance allows them to conduct business in a parking spot, but they must move 100 feet every 30 minutes. Further, they have to be at least “10 feet away from the entrance, doors, vestibules, driveways and outdoor dining areas of any business,” according to the newspaper.

Gary Gordon, the executive director of the nearby Main Street Business Improvement Association, was a bit more blunt in his statement to the paper: “We would like to get rid of them.”

Hoo boy, this will sure get interesting.

India Jones Chow Truck: Interview with Sumant Pardal

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on September 4, 2009

First there was the Dosa Truck. And now, there’s India Jones Chow Truck, bringing more delicious Indian goodness to Santa Monica (my hometown!) and West Los Angeles. I checked in with chef Sumant Pardal.

1) Indian food in a taco truck? Are you serving Indian tacos? What’s the deal here? Why a truck?

Our speciality is a FRANKIE. This is an Indian wrap from the streets of Bombay. Sort of an in between of a taco & burrito, but has no rice & beans. It is an egg washed roti (like a tortilla) with marinated sauteed meats, chopped onions, cilantro, special chutney and a spice blend. Once you have one, you want another one. A truck is exciting. And I have location, location, location.

2) Do you have any regional specialties? Where is the chef from? What’s your background? How’d you decide on the menu? How does real Indian street food impact what you choose to sell?

I am from Jaipur, India, 33 years of experience, and have owned 12 restaurants in LA in the last 22 years,
including East India Grill, which I opened on 8.8.88.

3) How much of an influence was the Kogi BBQ truck? How did you decide on your route? Do you have a set location/route? Being from Santa Monica, I approve of the Westside.

Kogi has been a big influence in showing us that there is a lot of business to be done by way of a catering truck. They are heros of this world. Routes are decided, by invitation, office complexes, night clubs and various events in the city. We are also now hooked up with Bluebird Cafe in Culver City, where we have a beautiful courtyard and every Thursday night we serve food and Bluebird sells beer & wine and shows movies and videos on a big screen.

4) What’s been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about operating a truck? Did you buy or lease it? How much harder is it to work in a truck kitchen than a real kitchen?

All businesses are hard work. But everything is working out beautifully.

5) What happened with the LAPD tickets two weeks ago? What will you be doing differently in the future?

It was not against me alone. It was a sweep to get us all out of there. I just caught the worst of it. Everything is fine now.

6) Thums Up or Limca?

One day. Need to find a wholesaler. Can’t buy retail and sell cheap.