With at least 60 of them roaming the streets, Los Angeles seems to have every type of food truck you could imagine (and some you probably shouldn't). But we had no bona fide Southern food truck -- until now.
Soft launching later today or tomorrow, Willoughby Road (Twitter: @willoughbyroad) combines traditional Southern-style smoked meats with internationally inspired rubs and sauces to offer what chef Jeshua Garza and his partner Adrian Ochoa have dubbed "classic Southern cuisine redefined."
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There's brisket marinated in smoked harissa then topped with cojeta cheese and a Thai cabbage slaw ($7); spareribs in an apple cider and chipotle barbecue sauce ($8); a pulled pork sandwich with an Asian-themed, vinegar-based rub ($5); fried chicken wings in a Korean-style marinade with a sriracha vinegar sauce ($5); sharp cheddar grits with lemongrass sautéed shrimp topped with pickled ginger and curry oil ($5.50).
Sides ($3) include fried black-eyed peas with Spanish chorizo and cornbread made with creamed corn and applewood-smoked bacon then topped with glazed honey. Look for specials like stuffed crawfish beignets and candied yams garnished with blue cheese and truffle honey. Within the next few weeks, Willoughy Road plans to roll out desserts like spiced pecan pie flavored with star anise and double chocolate brownies.
High school pals Garza and Ochoa studied together at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. After graduation, Ochoa went on to work for a variety of well-known chefs: Ludovic Lefebvre at Bastide, Kevin Cathman at Blend in La Quinta, Calif., Daniel Roberts at Baleen in Redondo Beach. But it was while working as a line cook for chef Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass. that Garza developed an interest in the savory science of barbecue. Helping his uncle Ruben, who runs highly praised Blue Ribbon BBQ in Newton, Mass., Garza learned to coax every bit of flavor from unyielding pork butts and temperamental hunks of brisket.
Garza brought these techniques with him to Southern California, where he and Ochoa began selling their food on Sundays at the Eagle Rock farmers market. After four months of enthusiastic reviews, they decided to go mobile with Willoughby Road. "What brought this all together was the food truck trend," Garza says. "We both love Southern cuisine, and we want to bring it to Southern California."