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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Four Great Food Trucks for Vegetarians

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Liba Falafel's salad - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Liba Falafel's salad
Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.

A few weeks ago, I met up with some friends at the Fort Mason Off the Grid. At this and other food truck rallies, my brain is wired to beeline it to the meaty goodies: pork belly burgers, roasted meat nachos, sisig tacos, and burritos. This time around I was offered a special challenge: since half of our group was vegetarian, it was my task to show that yes, it is possible to eat well without meat from a food truck.

See also: Five Things I Learned Eating at Food Trucks Every Week in 2012

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Going Back to Cali

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Porchetta Nachos at The Whole Beast

And its true, it is easier if you eat meat, and there are trucks that as a vegetarian you will never find something you can eat from, but there are some satisfying choices that are so good, even meat eaters won't notice. Also, since so many vegetarians by necessity in many situations end up eating cheese pizza or grilled cheese, I deliberately went with trucks that serve something more.

Here are my picks for a great meat-free meal at the Fort Mason OTG and beyond:

The Truck: Liba Falafel

The Cuisine: Cal-Mediterranean

Veggie Items: Falafel sandwiches and salads and most everything off the truck

The falafel salad is an easy choice here, and what makes it great is the condiment bar, packed full of toppings to dress up your salad the way you want it. A large variety of sauces, pickles, and crunchy toppings make you forget the meat.

Curry Laksa from Azalina's - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Curry Laksa from Azalina's

The Truck: Azalina's Malaysian

The Cuisine: Mamak stall cuisine, a blend of Indian, Malay, and Chinese cuisine

Veggie Item: Weekly rotating menu, but usually at least fritters and a main dish

Perhaps it's the exotic blend of sauces, spices, and textures or owner and chef Azalina Eusope's genuine and contagious smile that makes the food taste so good. We're guessing it's both. While the choices vary every week, keep a particular eye out for the veggie coconut curry laksa, a deeply satisfying bowl of noodles swimming in a coconut curry broth that can repel any foggy night.

Squash Tagine Tacos - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Squash Tagine Tacos

The Truck: The Taco Guys

The Cuisine: Global cuisine delivered on a tortilla

Veggie Item: Tagine Squash Tacos

I grew up in a household where once a year, in late summer, we would be inundated with zucchini from the garden. Zucchini would be in everything and everywhere and while I never learned to hate it, I certainly never crave it, except here. The braised tender squash gets jolted with so much flavor, I would have happily eaten the whole garden's worth if served like this. The yogurt and beet pickles add some vibrancy and the crunchy moong dal some needed texture.

Nepalese style dumplings: Momos - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Nepalese style dumplings: Momos

The Truck: Bini's Kitchen

The Cuisine: Nepalese

Veggie Item: Veggie Momos

The plump little Nepalese dumplings that Binita Pradhan serves up drenched in a tomato cilantro sauce come stuffed with a tofu mixture that has absorbed just enough spice mixture to keep them from being bland. The chewy little pockets may not fool anyone that there's no meat in there, but the vibrant sauce comforts all meat eaters.

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