If you haven’t attended a home football game the last two years, you’re missing out on some of Laguna Beach’s most unique and affordable dining options. The “restaurants” located on the football field’s western edge are so new, they come and go on wheels each game. It’s the second season of the Laguna Breakers Food Truck Festival, a wildly popular event and a welcome substitute for snack bar fare. Those patronizing the trucks’ many delicious offerings go beyond football fans, as parent Nika Shalala, there with toddlers, said: “we know many young families who just come for the food.”
The food quality is surprisingly high quality and reasonably priced. Where in Laguna can you get an Argentine pork sausage sandwich with nutmeg and garlic in French bread for $6? Or bleu cheese fries for $4? If you’re hungry for Kaya Stuffed French Toast—brioche sandwich with coconut jam—order it at Laguna’s gridiron. Thirsty for fresh squeezed watermelon tea? It’s a specialty of Tamarindo’s truck.
The park-like atmosphere is also a big draw. Kids of all ages are milling or playing, appearing happy to be unattended by their usual helicopter parents. Last Friday night behind a row of trucks on the ocean side, 40 some boys and girls were spinning cartwheels, playing tag or made up games. Intelligently, someone at LBUSD thought to dedicate personnel to look after the younger throngs because most parents are busy socializing or watching the game. Eric Moore, a Thurston staffer, happily worked his ‘beat’ in the food truck area, answering kids’ questions and putting safety first. “The food trucks are fun. I get to see familiar faces, young and old,” beamed Eric.
The trucks start serving at 5 p.m. and close down by early in the fourth quarter. “Be sure to come before 6 p.m., so you get into the game for free,” suggested Bolette Albertsen, enjoying a meal with her family. A flyer on LBHS Football’s website lists live music and different trucks that serve each game, so you can plan your meals. “Our kids Google the website each week to know what food to expect,” shared a group of six adults, who enjoyed the game from one of many picnic tables placed between two rows of food trucks.
The planned musicians must have taken another gig, because the only live music at the truck stalls Friday night was the LBHS band playing at halftime. The song performances gave four teenagers the idea to play musical chairs at the field’s edge, a rare Rockwell-like spectacle of creative fun. These kids and other food truck patrons otherwise could never be so close to the action on the field. If you’re at the truck depot when a team scores at the west end, you can have old fashioned fun by trying to catch a field goal or PAT kick, or watch an impromptu scrum for the pigskin.
Local realtor Sean McCracken joked: “who needs those fancy NFL luxury suites when we can watch a game this close.”
The servers could be heard calling out numbers when customers’ orders were ready, mixing easily with the game’s PA announcer identifying players by their jersey numbers. Was that order No. 28 or No. 28 passing for a TD? One server looked to stand out among competitors by calling out people’s names instead. “We want to make their eating experience personal,” professed Justin David of Tamarindo’s Truck.
Let’s hear a cheer for the LBHS Boosters Club for making a collegiate evening with our kids even better, by scoring with the food truck festival. Also, a dessert served up by the event is that 15% of the operators’ proceeds go to the Boosters Club. Eat and you shall donate. Keep on food truckin’ Laguna…a community that eats and plays together, stays together.
Paul Meyer is a 17-year Laguna resident, husband, father and volunteer. His company Tenant Advisors helps people lease or buy office and industrial properties in SoCal.