Food Truck Friday
(third Friday of every month)
Pacific View Mall parking lot, near Trader Joe’s
3301-1 E. Main St.
With all the hype around food trucks, it’s hard not to be drawn to them, especially when there are a dozen to choose from in one setting. While quality food and great service in a sit-down restaurant really can’t be compared to what food trucks offer, the reality is, sometimes people just want a different type of venue. And so that is what I found at the Pacific View Mall in Ventura on the third Friday of the month (and every month). (The ongoing event is co-sponsored by the Midtown Ventura Community Council.)
The trucks were ready and open for business around 5:45 p.m., which may in fact be the best time to show up. The event doesn’t officially start until 6 p.m., but the lines grow fast. Picture it: a DJ blaring pop songs over the loud speakers, children boogieing in front of the DJ table, a woman painting faces, all surrounded by a dozen or so food vehicles, including normal trucks, a hearse full of desserts, a van or two and a trailer. A family-friendly event, to be sure, with only one drawback: If you want a beer garden, you won’t find it here. No alcohol onsite as far as my companion and I could tell.
Semi-overwhelmed by the options, we tried to stay away from trucks that were local to Ventura County for one reason — one of the VCReporter reviewers will probably try out a local truck at another location so we wanted to avoid being redundant. With that in mind, it was all in the name and the overall scene.
When it comes to plastic picnic tables and chairs, the word “slider” (mini-burgers) first springs to mind. From Slammin’ Sliders, which is based in Rosemead, we went with the spicy pulled pork and the Kobe beef bacon and white cheddar sliders. Note: The chefs of Slammin’ Sliders take special pride in the quality of the beef they serve, listing several facts about the quality of life and origin of the delicious meat. It only took about a minute or two for my companion to eat his two Kobe beef sliders — cooked perfectly, nice and juicy with smoky bacon and mild tangy cheese, served on soft and sweet Hawaiian bread. My friend actually started to wax nostalgic for days of his youth when he used to eat Hawaiian bread by the package. I had the spicy pulled-pork slider, an indulgent little treat, the pork saturated in semi-spicy barbecue sauce balanced out with crunchy julienned carrots and cabbage and again, served on that sweet Hawaiian bread — so good I could’ve considered it dessert.
Off to the next. Because my companion was griping that hot dogs have never sat so well with him, the Greasy Weiner food truck was knocked out of the running. I wasn’t feeling The Grilled Cheese Truck — options such as mac and cheese stuffed in a grilled cheese sandwich just wasn’t appealing, though, judging by the line, I was in the minority. We opted for the truck with the longest line: Cousins Maine Lobster out of L.A. Maybe just the word “lobster” conjures up images of the elite and fine dining and by default makes the truck attractive. Or maybe it’s just that good. Whatever the case may be, it certainly drew a crowd, even with its basic menu featuring lobster rolls (hot and cold), lobster tacos, lobster bisque, lobster tail and a few others, such as shrimp tacos and clam chowder.
After a half-hour in line (attendees are particularly friendly so it doesn’t feel that long), we placed our order for a hot lobster roll and lobster tacos. A few minutes later, we got our order and parked it. The hot lobster roll is deliciously basic — big chunks of slightly sweet, chewy yet flaky lobster served on buttered and toasted soft rolls. The tacos were a little underwhelming. We knew there was lobster but it certainly wasn’t a stand out. The pico de gallo, heavy on the tomatoes, and the cilantro lime salsa may just have been too much for the lobster to contend with. Nevertheless, we happily scarfed it down.
The only notable drawback is that with each vendor, there isn’t a big portion of food per dish. I didn’t see any sides with the dishes and on average we spent about $8 per dish; so for the price, we weren’t necessarily feeling that our hunger was satisfied. I suppose there’s a cost to pay when food truck owners refer to themselves as “gourmet.” I feel certain, though, that where one vendor may have failed to satisfy in one way or another, surely another truck will succeed. And so, for those who are looking for that unique night out with the family, this event has something for everyone.