Orange County isn't known for its abundance of New York and Jewish-style delis, but the Brooklyn Boys food truck, launched on Feb. 1, hopes to change that.
Roaming from Fullerton and Placentia on the northern tip to Santa Ana and Irvine and all the way down to San Clemente on O.C.'s southern edge, Brooklyn Boys (Twitter: @brooklyn_boys) serves pastrami, corned beef, brisket, turkey and Reuben sandwiches as well as Sabrett hot dogs– the same kind you'll find on carts all over New York City. Made with Russak's meats, the half-pound sandwiches cost $10 and come with a scoop of potato salad, a scoop of coleslaw, half a pickle and a drink. Hot dogs, served with the same sides and drink combo, cost $6.
Unlike L.A. with Langer's, Brent's and host of well-known delis (including 79-year-old deli Canter's, which just launched a food truck), “There are not really a lot of deli options in Orange County,” says Brooklyn Boys founder Marc Gabriel. “All you have is Katella Deli in Los Alamitos, Benjie's Deli in Santa Ana and Jerry's Famous Deli in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.”
Compared to L.A., the O.C.'s nouveau food truck scene is sparse. They have plenty of traditional taco trucks, but as far as the newer breed of food trucks, only a handful (Louk's To Go, Piaggio on Wheels, Taco Dawg and Kogi, to name a few) work behind the orange curtain.
Also, without many tall buildings and clusters of high-rises, O.C. food trucks have to work harder to find locations that will draw sizable crowds. “Here we have more two and three-story buildings, so it's more of a hunt-and-seek attitude,” Gabriel says.
On the upside, an abundance of parking lots means private companies often invite Gabriel to park the truck at their site, reducing potential problems with police, parking enforcement and brick-and-mortar businesses.
Other Brooklyn Boys specialties include the Sloppy Mo, similar to a sloppy joe but made with smoked Anaheim chilies, caramelized onions, red peppers and corned beef brisket and pastrami tips in a sweet-and-sour sauce.
Gabriel also has his own take on matzoh ball soup, a.k.a. Jewish penicillin. “Most matzoh ball soups are just one giant, hard matzoh ball in clear broth. I use my mother's broth, which is onions, celery, dill, carrots, a little white pepper and small, tender matzoh balls. People who have had it think it looks like a dumpling. I make them fresh, a couple times a week,” he says. ($2.50 for an 8 oz. cup; $4.50, 16 oz.)
Gabriel, who owned All-American Bagel in Laguna Beach in the 1980s and The Bagel Depot in Lake Forest in the 1990s, has also worked as a corporate chef, a food developer, a food broker and helped start the meat-smoking program for Whole Foods. He rolls out of the Industrial Catering commissary in Irvine, which also leases him the truck.
“I just hope that this gourmet food truck phenomenon keeps moving and growing, and that we all work together and all the trucks stay clean and healthy,” he says.