Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Want Fries with That?

For years I have told people that San Diego was a culinary wasteland and some of the best food could be found in the barrio, or tiny fish markets, rather than the glamorous restaurants that dotted the landscape.  A jewel of a city, with views of the bay, ocean, and mountains,the restaurants situated to take advantage of the views, were invariable sterile, with lack luster food. 
Fast forward 10 years, and the restaurant scene is jumping, with innovative food coming from the kitchens all over America's Finest City; many taking advantage of the local produce (can you say Chino farm?) meats, and prize seafood from the Pacific. 
What a difference a decade and a new century make; the latest innovation? 
The Gastro Truck--a ubiquitous lunch wagon, on steroids; serving locally sourced, organic food--I'm not talking vegan, veggie food, I'm talking grass fed burgers, shrimp po-boys, and salads.  Described as hand crafted street food, the idea was born out of the latest craze in LA and New York City. 
Three weeks ago after a physical therapy session in Sorrento Valley I saw the MIHO Gastro-truck; lines of people waiting to get their fresh lunch, and people pouring out of the office parks to see what was going on -- smart idea --- a stand alone restaurant in this area would die, there is no one here on the weekends to give you a boost in business, and the space would stay open in order to recoup overhead.  Even the Karl Strauss brewery is closed on the weekends.  The truck is in Sorrento Valley on Thursdays, and moves around the city to give it more exposure.  There are other Gastro-trucks, Tabe Taco is another with a loyal following, garnering raves from its fans.  What's so special about these trucks you might ask---they care about what they are serving you.  An $8 burger is worth the price when it is hand made with fresh ingredients rather than a frozen patty thrown on a griddle.  Organic produce tells you that they care that the produce is locally sourced, and hasn't been on three airplanes, and two trucks to get to them.  I hope they branch out and have trucks all over the city; MIHO's first week in Little Italy made the restaurant owners nervous, as they should be---when someone is making an effort to educate the public and improve their diet, rather than stuff you with who-knows-what, you'd better start listening and learning.  This isn't a knock on the restaurants in Little Italy, just a reminder that what these trucks are doing is important and we all should start paying attention. 
Yes, I believe I will have fries with that!

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