Las Vegas: Food truck heaven

Road Journals Blog—The gourmet food-truck scene in Las Vegas is going gangbusters, which is good news if you’ve bought a meal on the Strip recently. A cheeseburger for $26? Really, Jean Georges?

Off the Strip, you’ll find a flotilla of four-wheeled food vendors selling tasty cuisine for a fraction of what the celebrity chefs are charging. You may find yourself sitting on the curb with a paper napkin in your lap, but that’s part of the fun.


Jake Stuart of Arizona bites into a Slidin' Thru slider | Anne Burke

The gourmet food-truck scene in Las Vegas is going gangbusters, which is good news if you’ve bought a meal on the Strip recently. A cheeseburger for $26? Really, Jean Georges?

Off the Strip, you’ll find a flotilla of four-wheeled food vendors selling tasty cuisine for a fraction of what the celebrity chefs are charging. You may find yourself sitting on the curb with a paper napkin in your lap, but that’s part of the fun.

If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, head downtown to the El Cortez Hotel at 6th and Fremont for the monthly Las Vegas strEATS Festival. It’s a food truck throw-down, with live music and art. Check the vendors’ websites and Twitter accounts for up-to-date whereabouts.

Some of the prime participants:

Sloppi Jo’s


Sloppi Jo's food truck (Inset: The Sloppi Jo in all its glory) | Anne Burke

The cuisine here has nothing to do with those mushy ground-beef burgers your mom used to make. Owner Jolene “Jo” Mannina is just playing with words.

The eponymous dish is slow-roasted pork in red chile sauce, topped with a sunny-side-up egg and pickled onions, all served on a soft flour tortilla. Mannina peels and seeds her own New Mexico chiles and soaks her onions in a bath of fresh oregano, lime juice, jalapenos, salt, and sugar. The attention to detail pays off. It’s all delicious and kind of messy. Okay, maybe it does share some similarities with the classic Sloppy Joe.

Island Breeze


The skirt-wearing Island Breeze truck (Inset: Asian wrap) | Anne Burke

This may be the world’s only food truck that wears a hula skirt. Hawaii native Hekili Apao specializes in BBQ wraps with a heart-smart twist: brown rice, a low-sodium soy sauce substitute, and wholegrain flatbreads. It sounds too healthy to taste good, but it’s delicious.

The kimchi wrap features a choice of four meats (the marinated ahi poke is delicious), topped with island slaw (cabbage, carrots, onion, ginger, and balsamic vinegar) and crispy wontons.

Slidin’ Thru


The Slidin' Thru truck | Anne Burke

This  superhero-themed truck is all about super-fresh sliders. “No stale buns, no frozen nuthin’, no microwaves on our trucks,” co-owner Nick Ross told me.

The house specialty is the Angus burger served with a variety of toppings, but you can also get vegetarian sliders. On the culinary horizon from Slidin’ Thru: a grilled-cheese truck. New mobile culinary delights, it seems, will never cease in this part of the desert.

Hanshiktaco


Hanshiktaco truck | Anne Burke

The culinary terrain of this food truck travels from Seoul to south of the border. Hanshiktaco specializes in Korean tacos made with a mild kimchi. In addition to traditional Mexican favorites such as pork, chicken, and beef, owner Ron Principio offers a veggie choice—tofu-and-egg taco seasoned with a smoky chipotle.

There’s also a Korean twist on the Nate ’n Al’s hot dog, and a sweet-dough, sugar-covered zeppole.

Hanshiktaco has a regular parking spot at 7421 Lake Mead Blvd. in the Summerlin neighborhood, but check the website to be sure.

Curbside Café


The Curbside Cafe's blackened mahi mahi and fried calamari tacos | Anne Burke

Getting arrested can really work up one’s appetite, so if you end up in jail during your trip to Vegas, stop by the Curbside Café once you’re sprung. The truck can usually be found from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the Regional Justice Center at 3rd and Lewis, downtown. Owner Doug Porter’s specialties are fresh Angus burgers, blackened Mahi tacos, and fried calamari tacos.

Fukuburger: I was hoping to catch up with this Japanese-themed roving eatery when I was in town a couple of months ago, but the bad news reached me via Twitter: breakdown!

Happily for its many fans, Fukuburger is now back on the road. The New York Times gave two thumbs up to the spicy Karai burger, which is topped with cucumbers, avocado cream, spicy mayo and habanero-spiked soy sauce. I’ll give it a try the next time I’m in Las Vegas.

Anne Burke is writing about Las Vegas for an upcoming issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in June 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

Comments

Larry, Check Twitter under @Vegasfoodtrucks and others, There are over 25 food trucks and a few more are going to make their debuts this summer!! It's crazy!!

Thanks for the tip, Larry. Care to give a shout out to your favorite food truck?

We Love our Las Vegas food truck scene!!

Even though you have only named a few here, and there are actually about 12 now that roam the valley, seeking hunger eaters, and promoting some outstanding smaller, mom & pop establishments here in the valley.

Any visitors to Vegas who just happen to be "Downtown", on a Thursday, has to check out the El Cortez parking lot at lunch time for the mid week munch! ...you will not be disapointed.

Interesting timing, Arnold. VIA just published this story on 49 Mile Drive. Enjoy!

Can you publish a San Francisco 49 mile route, I would like to take a car ride on that route, thank you.