Looking for some great, vegetarian food truck fare? Over the next several installments of “Frugal Friday,” I’ll review some of the more popular food trucks in New York City. Over the past few years, the food trucks have made the leap to mainstream, and in some cases even gourmet. But is all the hype worth it? As in most contexts, the answer is, “It depends.”
I recently checked out La Perla Mexicana (no, not that La Perla), which was parked one day on “Food Truck Row” on Park Avenue. (Check out tweat.it for locations of food trucks around New York City; on any given day, a dozen or more will be camped out on Park Avenue between 47th and 52nd Street or so, as well as on 47th between Park and Madison.)
The selection at La Perla Mexicana is pretty good. Like Patty’s, another Mexican food truck (review coming soon), the menu has a lot of things you wouldn’t find at your typical crappy Tex-Mex place: cemitas and tortas (sandwiches), huaraches, gorditas (the real kind, not the Taco Bell kind), and more. And, in a sense, making them vegetarian is easy; just get them without the meat.
But there are some other, more interesting options too. The quesadilla fillings include cheese, mushroom, pumpkin, and corn smut. Yes, corn smut. I assumed that was some sort of mis-translation or typo, but that’s actually the technical term. (I had always known it as “huitlacoche.”) Anyway, I assume you can mix and match these fillings with some of the other options on the menu. This time, though, I stuck to the basics: tostadas (which typically come in an order of three) with beans, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, and sour cream.
Overall, the tostadas were pretty good. The problem with getting something like this is the risk that lettuce is used as a filler, and unfortunately, there was some of that going on here. But what really disappointed was the guacamole. I don’t know if it was literally squirted from a bottle, but it certainly had the over-pureed, way-too-smooth consistency of guacamole that isn’t freshly made. I understand that it could be pricey to make fresh guacamole for every single customer, but I’m surprised they don’t just make it in batches every hour or two.
Still, the tostadas were pretty substantial. They were 3 for $10, which is a pretty reasonable price considering their size and how filling they are. The corn tortilla base had a good crunch but the tortillas themselves weren’t super-oily, which is is a big plus (and a big problem with most freshly-made tortillas: they are just out of the fryer so they are greasy and gross). The beans were tasty, though I thought they skimped a little bit; again, the ratio skewed too heavily toward the lettuce.
All in all, though, and particularly at 3 for $10, these were quite good. If you’re near La Perla Mexicana, I highly recommend stopping off to give them a try.