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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Honk If You Love Babaloo Cuban Food Truck

What can I say. I wanted Monterey County to be a part of the revolution.

As the booming boutique food truck trend delivered great grub to every big city sidewalk from Atlanta to Albuquerque to L.A.—Argentine meats! Gourmet grilled cheeses! Falafels and waffles!—I’ve been patiently looking for someone local to join the rolling repast, leaving a path of drool in my rearview mirror along the way.

So after a long hungry wait, I say this: God bless Gladys.

In other words, we have our first real foodiemobile merging into traffic. Gladys Parada has survived the unnecessarily arcane gauntlet of state and county inspections to bring her colorful 1986 Chevy P30 Stepvan and its Babaloo Cuban Cuisine to the West End Celebration this weekend.

She’ll take the truck she calls “The Duchess”—after her flamboyant Cuban mother, who is painted on the side—to local businesses and parties thereafter (she has to stick to private property).

While wearing a tropical fruit hat and grilling up sandwiches and chicken, the Caribbean native told me she was drawn to the mobile game after she left a manager position at the former Citronelle.

“I was thinking I have to do something that doesn’t kill me,” she said. “Like a lunch truck. I started reading and everyone was doing it, but not here. I thought, ‘I can’t die without trying.’”
With it she’s bringing a fresh-organic-sustainable attitude—sourcing her ingredients consciously and distributing compostable containers—and some downright tasty stuff with names inspired by I Love Lucy.

As detailed on the chalkboard sides of the truck, The McGillicuddy pictured below (named after Lucille Ricardo’s maiden moniker, $6) comes dynamic and sassy like its namesake, packing grilled organic chicken, melting muenster cheese, gobs of avocado and a tangy citrus salsa between two pieces of crusty Cuban bread baked by Palermo and grilled to order there on the spot.

The Ricky Ricardo ($6, not pictured) is a more macho version with pulled pork, Virginia ham and melted Swiss.

The Fred and Ethel sliders ($6) are two cute little fishcake sliders with tilapia or mahi mahi (from Sea Harvest for now), a clever cream sauce and a tasty tropical island slaw...

…that also accompanies the grilled chicken (above) and “Vitameatavegamin” veggie plates ($8 and $5, respectively, with pedestrian yellow rice and some serviceable beans).

Parada and her sweet wingwoman Lady also slang delicious virgin strawberry mojitos or guava drinks ($2) depending on the day.

Call 262-4150 or hit up if you’ve got at least 20 hungry monkeys ready to eat.
(The website is worth checking out for the food-porn photos alone—they're as pretty as the custom paint job on the truck.)

When I got the truck to visit the Weekly, it inspired one of the paper’s powers that be to pull me aside for commentary on my career.

“Mark,” he said, “this is the best thing you’ve ever done.”