What do you get when an O.C. food truck heads northward with a permanent brick-and-mortar spot in mind? That would be the newly opened TLT Food in Westwood Village, whose acronym stands for "The Lime Truck," the Great Food Truck Race-winning mobile eatery which has been one of Orange County's most popular new-wave food trucks since it began serving in 2010.
Similar to the truck's menu, TLT Food's menu features specialties like blue crab, scallop and shrimp ceviche, pork belly nachos, carnitas fries, short rib quesadillas and a pork belly sandwich made with buttery Parmesan-crusted bread. Owner and chef Daniel Shemtob established the menu at the Lime Truck as a "chef-driven" take on street food, and aims to continue the trend here.
Located in the heart of Westwood, the new space has an obvious appeal to nearby students who can mix-and-match steak tacos and sides of wings in a quick-service setting. On most weeknights, the high-ceilinged dining hall, painted dark grey and neon green in a scheme simliar to the original food truck, is packed with undergrads watching sport highlights on the TV screens overheard.
There's a good selection of craft beer and some decent wines, which is a preferable option to the way-too-sweet housemade limeades. If you've visited the truck before, the cooking probably won't surprise you. Thankfully, Shemtob balances out some of the heavier items will things like blistered bok choy, spicy roasted cauliflower and an Asian-inflected noodle salad.
As far as gourmet tacos go, the carnitas, pork belly, and soy-sauce marinated steak are pleasant enough, while the ceviche stocked with fresh lump crab is worth a splurge. Our favorite is probably PBAT, an amped-up version of the BLT, which includes thick sweet slices of pork belly, arugula, tomato and slices of griddled Parmesan bread. Just like at the truck, Shemtob expects to rotate the menu regularly, meaning diners will have even more reason to return.
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TLT Food: 1116 Westwood Blvd.; (310) 443-4433, www.tltfood.com.
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