Mouth Watering Creativity

By Brett Battles

Creativity comes in all forms, and can be seen in almost any walk of life. Of course, the obvious examples are art and books and dance and movies and music and plays. But these are nowhere near the only places there is creativity.

We see it in the gardener who chooses the plants he grows carefully, arranging them in ways that can make a yard beautiful. We see it in the teacher who isn’t content to just mindlessly repeat what’s in the text book to their student, but instead finds interesting ways to make the subject come alive and be memorable. We see it in the store owner who finds a new way to package on old product, and make that product more that it was before. And we see it in an airline that allows its employees to have a little fun when interacting with passengers (a la Southwest).

Everywhere there’s creativity – the arts, science and medicine, education, construction, the law, religion, parenting, the home and anything else you can think of. One of the things that really excites me – turns me on, if you will – is seeing something creative, and seeing the passion the particular creator has brought to it. I don’t have to necessarily understand it, but to know that someone used their mind to make something, or make something better…wow. Too cool.

What I wanted to share with you today is a brand of creativity that’s really cropped up in the past couple of years, that I am totally loving.

I’m talking about the lunch truck.

Yes, the roach coach.

There was a time when you could never get me to eat at one of these – primarily white paneled – trucks. Which is actually kind of odd given the fact I have no problems eating from the street carts in developing countries. The truck, though, they just weren’t for me.

But there’s been a revolution, and it…is…AWESOME.

The lunch truck has gone specialized.

I first encounter this when visiting my friend Bill Cameron in Portland, Oregon, a couple of summers ago. There was a place in town where every night five or so lunch truck would take over a parking lot and serve up chow. But these weren’t the hamburgers and slop type of trucks. Each served it’s own brand of specialty food. I can’t remember the choices from that night, but I do remember wishing the phenomena would hit L.A.

Well, I’m here to tell you my wish came true. Big time. In L.A. we now have trucks that specialize in: Korean Food, Thai Food, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Nachos, Indian Food, Specialized Hot Dogs, BBQ, Juices, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Deli Sandwiches, Vietnamese Food, Cajun, Pizza, Dim Sum and so many others.

Even cooler than that? They usually gather together in certain spots, so eaters have a bevy of choices. And I’m lucky enough to have one of the main lunch time spots a seven minute walk from my front door. It’s located on Wilshire Boulevard right in front of the LA County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits. (Chandler fans, this would be right on the Miracle Mile.)

Wednesday, when I walked over, I counted thirteen different trucks. That’s actually below normal. I’ve counted as many as seventeen and know there is usually at least fifteen around.


The food is creative. The trucks themselves are creative (as you can see from the pictures), and this whole new way (which is really a supercharged old way) of eating is creative. I LOVE the fact that they gather in bunches. I LOVE the fact that most are on Twitter so I can sometimes plan what I’m going to get by seeing who’s going to show up that particular day. And, most of all, I just LOVE the food.

I know not all of you have this kind of thing in your city or town yet, but no matter where you are, if you do get the opportunity, I urge you to check these trucks out. It’s a sight to seen, and treat for your taste buds as well!

I sacrificed myself on Wednesday, and, in the theme of crime fiction, I had the “Felony” from the Grill Cheese Patrol truck. I meant to take a picture of my food. But I ate it instead. Oops.\

Anyway, hope you enjoy these photos. And I love it if you’d share with us in the comments some of the places you’ve seen unusual creativity.

The Grill Cheese Patrol

Korean BBQ



Juice Truck

Thai Food!


Hot Dogs



19 thoughts on “Mouth Watering Creativity

  1. Steve in Germany

    Brett, great post. I got hungry just reading and looking at the photos. We have a ghrilled chicken truck that parks in the hamlet each Wednesday. Lots of soldiers line up to get their chickens. The whole chickens are on spits and your mouth waters watching them turn. When the smell hits your noes, you have to try one.

  2. JD Rhoades

    Doubt we'll see those any time soon in my neighborhood. We mostly get dodgy looking guys trying to sell us meat of dubious provenance from a battered van.

  3. Spencer Seidel

    Weird coincidence! Yesterday afternoon, I saw a lunch truck parked outside a little factory and for the life of me could not remember the slang term for it. Grease truck? Botchalism boat? Wrong. ROACH COACH. Thanks for that!

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    We had the most amazing array of ethnic food in roach coaches at Berkeley, but I had no idea the Miracle Mile coaches had gone so hip!! What a GREAT afternoon – wild gourmet picnic and then museum walk. Or vice versa. After it gets warm again.

    Thanks for the photos!!

  5. MJ

    AGH, you're killing me here. I work in a suburb – we have one gourmet taco truck that services the entire area. What I'd to for a Korean BBQ or banh mi truck…..

  6. Brett Battles

    Alex, it's not just the Miracle Mile. There are several places throughout the city where this is happening. If you follow me on twitter, look at my lists. There's one for LA Food Trucks. It's by far not all of them, but several are listed and you can see where they are going to be. Not just lunch, either. Dinner, too!

  7. Rae

    The gourmet food trucks are happening in downtown San Francisco, too. Every one I've tried has been beyond yummy.

    Love the photos, btw 😉

  8. Keiko

    Thanks for the post, Brett! The pics are great! Such creativity! We don't have nearly as many (but then, Santa Fe is too small anyway), but at least we have a couple (one of them is in a refurbished Airstream trailer!).

  9. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Brett

    Great post – now I know where we're eating in LA …

    We only occasionally get this kind of creative mobile fast food in the UK. At one drag racing event we went to a few years ago, Andy contracted the worst food poisoning (he was hospitalised) he's ever had, so I tend to give the dog burgers a miss.

  10. Murderati fan

    Your post should have come with a warning. Do not read this until after lunch.
    Big city life has its advantages.

  11. Pop Culture Nerd

    I like the creative spelling of the "Not Gulity" sandwich. Next time I get accused of anything, I'm going to say I'm not gulity.

    Macho Nachos is my favorite name but I'm a little scared that if I eat their food I'll grow hair on my chest.

  12. Brett Battles

    Lunch Truck update for Thursday: 14 trucks, and half are not the same trucks that were here yesterday! Lunch for me? Spicy Korean BBQ Pork Burrito, one of my favorites!

  13. Reine

    I used to like the fish and chips truck that parked outside Tom Gate at ChCh Oxford, even though my tutor told me to never, never, never eat there. That's all I needed!

  14. Reine

    Love the tarpits and watching the archaeologists. Used to take the kids there. Don't remember any trucks back then. Miss the Falafel truck on Ave. Louis Pasteur in Boston.

  15. Cornelia Read

    I would kill for Korean food in New Hampshire. We have, in this tiny town, Thai, Szechuan, Japanese, Malaysian, and an abundance of pizza. Also, a taqueria that is pretty decent, considering it's New England. But no Indian, no Korean, no Greek, no Cuban… damn. Wrong place for me to live.

  16. Alafair Burke

    I love food trucks and pretend that the calories don't count since you eat and walk at the same time.

  17. JT Ellison

    There are food trucks on the beach where we vacation – nothing gourmet, for sure, but there's nothing better than a slushie and a frozen milky way on a hot day. Next LA trip I will do the taco trucks with you : )

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