I recently returned from my annual summer sojourn to NYC, my home town, home of the arts, where you could fry an egg on the sidewalk and yet, the midday landscape was crowded not only with tourists but long lines at food trucks parked along side streets mid-town. Mayor Bloomberg miraculously designated many new pedestrian only avenues and installed bike lanes throughout the city, and horns blare all day long, and still there is room for these inventive food stations, which have popped up across the country. New York even has its own food truck locator app: nyctruckfood.
Of course in the Big Apple you can find just about every possible ethnic food and is home to the most inventive chefs on the planet. Even so, food trucks have loyal followings, what you might call the new fast food, more diverse and more nutritious.
Turns out there are a number of food trucks circulating through Orange County, primarily in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Irvine, although Tamarindo can be found in Newport. Beyond gourmet burgers and breakfast sandwiches, food trucks dish out rich, spicy, hot foods for lunch on a bench or the beach: crepes, dal, tapas, souvlaki. Not sure where to find what you’re looking for? RoamingHunger.com tracks trucks across the country – you can mark the OC as your territory and monitor your favorite. Many food trucks tweet where they are parked each day.
I checked with Laguna’s planning department and turns out, not unexpectedly, code [10.09.010] prohibits food trucks or any sort of “peddlers or vendors” in the downtown business district, spanning Myrtle Street south to Thalia Street. Traffic is bad enough in this town, we know, but worse than the Big Apple? The back door to the code is placement on private property, which requires a temporary use permit, and has been used successfully during high school football season instead of a snack bar, and at the Healthy Girl festival. At Laguna Music Festival’s opening event last winter at the Woman’s Club, an Argentine food truck delighted guests with beef or sausage empanadas with chimichurri sauce to compliment the tango theme.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Kristine Thalman, tells me that a new regulatory task force, which is appointing members now, intends to consider existing municipal codes in the hopes of making the city more business-friendly. The report is due in January and Thalman said they had not considered food trucks but nothing was off the table. I imagine there might be a few locals who would like to take their menu to the streets, or perhaps the city might consider the selective use of enterprising food vendors who will bring new tastes to town.
Last week, Yelp announced that July is national hot dog month, and highlighted the OC’s Dogzilla and Viking food trucks as having some of the best wieners around. Doesn’t Laguna Beach deserve a great hot dog? Or a waffle drowned in chocolate and Chantilly cream? Or… Something to think about.
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered the city for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com. Minding Our Business focuses on locally owned enterprises and entrepreneurs.