Winner, Saveur's Best Culinary Travel Blog.
Food Truck Road Trip: A Cookbook will be out Nov. 4, 2014.

Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos | San Francisco Food Truck

Urban legend claims your taste buds change every seven years. One day you wake up, and suddenly mustard is amazing. Or a funfetti birthday cake buried beneath two inches of heavy frosting is no longer quite the draw it once was when you were seven. Lori Phillips (no relation to Terri) of Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos knows this all too well. “My food habits changed as an adult,” she says. “Things I used to love as a kid just doesn’t taste good anymore as an adult, especially a lot of junk or comfort foods.”But she wasn’t quite ready to give up her childhood love of Choco Tacos: crisp waffle cone shells folded around ice cream and dipped in chocolate.

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Lori wanted to make a version of the Choco Taco that would appeal to a more grown-up palate. “So when I started to examine what it is, I thought let’s make an ice cream cone without all the junk. No gums, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors. No preservatives. Just get all that junk out of there. Put in what we want and leave out all the unnecessary stuff.” And since Rocko’s was named after her dog, his four-legged friends aren’t left out. By replacing ice cream with honey-sweetened Greek yogurt and chocolate with carob, she’s created an “ice cream” taco your dog can enjoy as well.

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“If you’re going to eat dessert, eat it right.”

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So what does end up in a more sophisticated ice cream taco? Lori starts off with an organic base from Three Twins Ice Cream and flavors it herself with the purest, highest quality ingredients she can find; such as salted caramel, farm strawberries, or vegan chocolate chips. She then folds it in a waffle cone shell made up of three different kinds of flours sourced from a farmer Lori met at the Farmer’s Market. “He’s now my go-to guy for most of my vegetable, eggs, and wheat,” explains Lori. “It’s grown into a really great relationship. I’ve visited the farm and go back a couple times a year. It’s the blending of those flours that really give the waffle cone its texture. That’s what makes it so special.” The concoction is then dipped in your choice of milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate or a peanut butter dip (or double dipped if that’s your thing). And finally, the dipped shell is hardened almost instantly with the magic of liquid nitrogen.

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Though she was unsure at first how the city would react to a gourmet ice cream taco cart, her doubts were unfounded. Rocko’s word-of-mouth popularity enabled them to move from a food cart at the Fort Mason Off The Grid to a mobile food truck by their second year. Though honestly, how could she go wrong appealing to the kid in all of us? As Lori puts it: “We all live stressful lives, so we all enjoy our foods and desserts, and you should. Do it with organic ingredients, do it without a bunch of fillers, corn syrup, and all of that junk you don’t want to eat anyways. If you’re going to eat dessert, eat it right.”

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Rocko’s Ice Cream Tacos
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Thanks to all our followers and fans, it’s been a whirlwind year for us. We’re always so honored to be recognized by valued sources. USA Today’s 10Best travel site has nominated us as one of the readers’ choice Favorite Travel and Food Blogger! Please support us by voting and spreading the word. Voting ends August 18th and you can vote once a day until then.
Vote for us!
Update: Yay, we made it into the Top 10. Thanks so much for voting everyone!

Thanks to all our followers and fans, it’s been a whirlwind year for us. We’re always so honored to be recognized by valued sources. USA Today’s 10Best travel site has nominated us as one of the readers’ choice Favorite Travel and Food Blogger! Please support us by voting and spreading the word. Voting ends August 18th and you can vote once a day until then.

Vote for us!

Update: Yay, we made it into the Top 10. Thanks so much for voting everyone!

Fukuburger | Las Vegas Food Truck

When we attended Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards again this year in Las Vegas, we thought we would take the opportunity to do a story on a Las Vegas food truck. We’ve heard a lot about Fukuburger and their amazing Japanese-inspired American comfort foods like their Tamago “Egg” Burger: all-beef patty with furikake, wasabi mayo, and topped with (of course) a fried egg and crispy onion strings.

We met up with owner Colin Fukunaga at his literally-just-opened first permanent spot in F.A.M.E at the Linq. He chatted with us about his motivations and a brief history of the Las Vegas food scene and how it has become more receptive to food trucks.

Fukubuger - Las Vegas, NV
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Love Belizean | Portland Food Cart

Tiffany Love is angry.” Thus opens an Oregonian article detailing the eviction of several food carts from their pod at SW 6th Ave and Columbia St in Portland. But when we caught up with Tiffany, owner of Love Belizean, she was singing a different tune. “We turned a negative into a positive and are totally expanding our business. I’m like, ecstatic.”

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“Where do you guys eat? Where’s the local food?’ They turned us on to a bunch of different local spots, and everybody serves this chicken and rice dish. I mean everybody.”

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Since the article ran, things have been falling into place for Tiffany. She’s moving her cart to a brand new food pod run by Tidbit Food & Farm—complete with a full nursery, beer garden, and fire pit—located at SE 20th and Division, and biggest of all, she’s in the process of opening up a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Both of these locations will offer Tiffany’s roasted red pepper and onion tri-tip, red beans and rice stewed in coconut curry, and their signature dish: Belizean chicken and rice. Tiffany was first introduced to this particular style of chicken while honeymooning in Belize with her husband Andy. “We were at the touristy hotels and everything on the menu was American,” she laughs. “So we asked them, ‘Where do you guys eat? Where’s the local food?’ They turned us on to a bunch of different local spots, and everybody serves this chicken and rice dish. I mean everybody. It was one of the cheapest things on the menu, but one of the most fantastic.”

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On their return, they looked in vain for something similar and came up empty. So Andy built her a food cart, literally from the ground up. Tiffany trained at Le Cordon Bleu and spent two years in the kitchen of a SE Portland pizza restaurant, where they let her create her own weekly specials. There, she learned the confidence to trust her culinary instincts. After a little experimentation, she came up with her own version of Belizean chicken and rice. Soon enough, Love Belizean was gaining media attention and was named one of Willamette Week’s Top 5 Food Carts of the Year.

The secret is in the recado rojo, a spice rub that’s easy enough to find in Belizean grocery stores for about 25 cents per ball, but not so easy to find in the States. When Tiffany ran out of the stockpile she brought back from her honeymoon, she figured out how to make it fresh. Made with hand-ground annatto seed, garlic, cumin, and other spices, Love Belizean’s recado rojo is what separates their chicken and rice from all the rest.

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By the way, a jar of that recado rojo is one of the rewards offered on Love Belizean’s Kickstarter page to help fund their brick-and-mortar. While Love Belizean may have hit an unexpected rough patch, Tiffany and Andy chose to see it as an opportunity for growth. Their Kickstarter runs until August 13th, so head over and show a little love of your own! As Tiffany says, “We’re kind of all family, the cart world out here. Everybody’s looking out for everybody.” Let’s prove them right.

Help fund Love Belizean’s new brick-and-mortar on Kickstarter!

Love Belizean - Portland, OR
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Smothered | San Francisco Food Truck

Whether you’re chowing them down in a roadside diner or enjoying them drizzled in truffle oil alongside a medium-rare steak, the humble French fry is one of the most perfect snack foods. Hot, salty, and fresh from the fryer, they perfectly fill some sort of deep-seated craving endemic to the human race. Chef AJ Sioson of the Smothered food truck manages to take an already addictive food and turn its appeal up to 11 by smothering a basket of french fries in a variety of sauces and toppings.

Trained at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Chef AJ spent nine years in several fine dining kitchens—including the Four Seasons Hotel and Restaurant Gary Danko—before taking a short break from cooking. “I told myself I wouldn’t get back in a kitchen unless I owned the place,” he says. A food truck seemed the most cost effective option, the only decision left was figuring out what to serve.

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AJ found his inspiration in poutine, a traditional Canadian dish featuring fries slathered in brown gravy and cheese curds. It took Chef AJ about a year (and a lot of constructive Canadian criticism) to perfect his poutine and develop ten additional fry dishes, but he doesn’t think he’s done. Not by a long shot, “It’s a continuous process of trying to perfect it, trying to make it better than yesterday.”

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“You’re not looking for traditional food when you come to our truck.”

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You can taste his commitment to perfection in the many smothered dishes AJ and his team serve up. Along with classic poutine—in which AJ spends 48 hours roasting bones and making stock from scratch just for the gravy—Smothered has something for everyone. “The Veggie Beast” has sautéed asparagus, mushrooms, and melted cheddar for hungry vegetarians, and for the carnivores the hilariously named “Too Many Dudes” offers up three different kinds of sausage (bratwurst, andouille, and Polish) sauerkraut,  jack, and cheddar. The most popular is “The Southern”: fries covered in popcorn fried chicken and country gravy. 

Regardless of what you order, you’ll know your fries will come topped with high-quality ingredients and expertly prepared sauces. It’s creativity and a fine dining mentality brought to a humble dish. “You’re not looking for traditional food when you come to our truck,” says AJ. “We cook good food, as fresh as possible. And it’s a fun truck. It’s lighthearted, and just a fun place to eat.”

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Smothered Fries - San Francisco, CA
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