Care for a $5 ice cream sandwich made with fried chicken and waffle flavored ice cream and a gluten-free coconut almond cookie? Or how about some Hawaiian breakfast sliders, made with Portuguese sausage, sautéed onions, and Shoyu scrambled eggs on Hawaiian bread? Those of are just a couple of the tantalizing selections I noticed when I stumbled across Melrose Night in Los Angeles last Thursday night.
On the first Thursday of each month, more than a dozen food trucks and an assortment of shops set up on Melrose Avenue between Ogden and Curson between 6-10 p.m. The event began in January 2011, and the crowds and vendor list continues to grow. I counted 15 food trucks at Melrose Night last week and almost every one of them had something I wanted to eat.There was gelato on a stick ($4) at Cool Cow Feel Good, Frito pies ($6) and chicken and waffles ($8) at the Trailer Park Truck, red velvet chocolate chip pancakes ($6), lobster rolls ($12) and a host of other goodies. One truck was even selling flatiron steaks at $15 a pop.
I love the gourmet food truck trend, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to order a steak or fried chicken and stand on the street eating it. I will order tacos, ice cream, lobster rolls, burgers, basically anything that doesn’t require a knife and fork, but I really don’t want to be eating pancakes, omelets, steaks and the like on the street.
My other issue with some gourmet food trucks is the high prices. Some are offering very good values. We had a rocky road ice cream sandwich that I thought was pricey at $5 until I realized the thing was big enough to feed my family of four!
But others are pricing their menu items as though they were restaurants. There is a difference between standing on a street corner eating something and being able to sit down at a restaurant, be it fast food or sit down. I do expect a discount at a food truck, but I think a few food truck proprietors are getting a bit high and mighty.
I know that they need permits and have overhead as well, but their fixed costs are lower than restaurants, so I don’t expect to pay $11 for a veggie burger and fries at a food truck when that is roughly the same price I’d pay in a restaurant.
Those minor beefs aside, I highly recommend checking out Melrose Night. Show up hungry and you will definitely eat well. It’s also a great area for window-shopping and people watching. L.A. isn’t much of a pedestrian city, but this is one of the few opportunities to walk around on sidewalks that are full of people and life. You might not save a ton of money by dining on the street, but you’ll eat well and have a blast.