featured-food-and-winefood and wineIssue 30

Food Truck Frenzy

By Ashley Stinson

It’s no surprise that the Valley loves to eat. Our community is surrounded by some of the world’s most fertile farmland, and is a mixing pot full of different culinary traditions, as well as modern-thinkers. The Modesto area is full of amazing restaurants—and some of those restaurants happen to have wheels.

Food trucks have been a part of the Central Valley’s food scene  for a long time, with the enduring popularity of “taco trucks.” In  recent years, however,
the popularity of the food truck concept has exploded around the  country, with many different takes on this mobile restaurant cropping up. All around the Modesto area, restaurants on wheels are producing food from a wide range of different cuisines, and they’ve drummed up loyal followings.

Starting a traditional, brick and mortar restaurant is an expensive, exhausting task. It’s an unfortunate fact that many restaurants go out of business, even when their food is good. The cost of running a physical space can mean that restaurants spend years walking a knife’s edge between being profitable and going under.

Running a food truck, by contrast, means that restaurants don’t have to worry about costs like waitstaff, rent, or maintaining a dining room. And just because a restaurant is mobile doesn’t mean the food is any less quality; on the contrary, this often opens food trucks up to serve food that’s a little different than what you’d typically find in the area.

One hip truck that’s been pulling in praise is the Food Fix truck, which has served visitors from not only all over the Central Valley, but from across the country, and from as far away as Canada and Great Britain. Among Food Fix’s many visitors are Food Network’s Guy Fieri and Alton Brown, who signed the door of the truck.

Food Fix serves up sandwiches and traditional sides, such as potato salad and coleslaw, but with a twist. Their food is prepared using local ingredients, making everything they can directly from scratch. They slow roast their meat, make their own bacon, and pickle their own veggies.

“Our customers love the truck and we love our customers,” said Hank Olson, owner and chef of Food Fix. “We really just try to have fun and make good food, the old Skool way.”

If pulled pork or chicken sandwiches aren’t exactly what you’re craving, you don’t lack for other food truck options. If you’re craving Mexican food, but want something a little different from standard taco truck fare, you might try Modesto’s La Roca, which serves oysters, ensaladas, and seafood cocktail, made in the Mexican style. Or perhaps you’re hungry for Mediterranean food, in which case Romson’s Kebab has you covered. Located in Turlock, Romson’s Kebab serves chicken kebabs, pork kebabs, and gyros.

Some traditional brick and mortar restaurants have also dipped their toes into the world of food trucks. That’s the case with Big Bites No Crumbs Left, which is affiliated with Dewz Restaurant in Modesto. Big Bites is run by Christine Aspesi, wife of Dewz owner Scott Aspesi, and Wilbert Gaxiola, who has worked for Dewz for over twenty years. Inspired by the variety of food trucks in the Bay Area, Aspesi wanted to help the Modesto area have another food truck option.

“With my Alabama upbringing and Wilbert’s drive to work hard and his personal touches on service, we went in the direction of just simple, good, comfort grub food,” Christine Aspesi said. “Nothing fancy or culinarily extreme, but just good food—things we would eat and also nothing that we couldn’t do ourselves. We do all the menu items and we try different things and see what works and doesn’t for the week so far we’ve been getting it right.”

Area food trucks don’t just offer heavy comfort foods, however. If you know where to look, you’ll find lighter options. The Refuel Center, for example, prides itself on healthier, lighter options, many of which are gluten free. Their most popular sellers are their acai bowls and teriyaki chicken bowls.

If you’re looking for a dessert afterwards that’s delicious but not too heavy, Fancy Frost Shaved Ice in Turlock has you covered. Based out of a retrofitted Volkswagen bus, Fancy Frost boasts dozens of flavors, from the traditional cherry and tiger’s blood to the entirely novel horchata, s’mores, and guava. Fancy mango and fancy cucumber are two popular flavors.

No matter your craving, make sure to make a lunch date at any of these scrumptious food truck options. You won’t regret that you did!

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