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Las Vegas Food Truck Serving Up BIRRIA-STUFFED Tamales

Birria has been booming in the food scene outside of those in the know recently. For those that have been up on it, they’ll probably tell you, “What took y’all so long?”

And I get it, birria, from its origins in Jalisco, Mexico to the widespread appeal it enjoys today, is something that shouldn’t be treated as some new trend. Proponents (which I assume would be pretty much anyone that’s had it because it’s f*cking delicious) will extoll the virtues of its savory allure all day, all the while pointing you in every direction to where you can enjoy it in different iterations and contemporary takes. This then can take you into a fantastic journey that will have you feasting through creative takes like birria ramen and birria pizza.

However, keep going further in that journey and you might find yourself in Las Vegas, Nevada, just like I did, where birria takes on the form of tamales. Yes, the concept of birria has now found a home inside a warm tamal, with melty cheese as its roommate, all courtesy of El Tamalucas, the city’s first tamale food truck.

Since opening El Tamalucas in 2014, owner Saul Talavera has innovated his recipes and expanded the repertoire of his takes on the iconic dish, which include unique selections like chicken alfredo tamales and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos tamales. His next hit is the BirriQueso Tamale Dunkers, which I described earlier, and is a holy trinity of birria, consomé, and cheese. My mouth just watered typing out that sentence and now I’m fighting the urge to buy a plane ticket to Las Vegas. That’s because these tamales were one of the best things I’d eaten this year and the memories of having it look like a rush of the rich, bold consomé-soaked, cheese and birria-stuffed tamale cascading down my greedy gullet.

If you’re trying to catch a glorious fever dream off one bite, absolutely look up El Tamalucas when you’re out making questionable decisions in Las Vegas.

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How Getting Fired Reignited Roy Choi’s Flame For Cooking and Lead To The Kogi Truck’s Success

Famed Los Angeles-based chef Roy Choi was a recent guest on Talib Kweli’s burgeoning podcast “People’s Party.” They discussed a range of topics which included Choi’s upbringing, hip-hop’s contribution to his culinary journey, as well as the importance of community. Likening the overly-corporatized world of food to that of music industry major labels, it took being fired from celebrity hot-spot Rock Sugar to reignite Choi’s flame for cooking. He recalled his sudden “writer’s block” while preparing for the restaurant’s opening:

“I became a deer in headlights [everything], almost like I had amnesia. I woke up and couldn’t remember almost everything I was very proficient at. Like if you were to wake up and not know how to rhyme.”

Choi’s dismissal was a blessing in disguise, resulting in a slew of successful independent ventures like Chego!, A-Frame, Commissary, POT, LocoL and well-known catalyst Kogi BBQ. That’s Kogi with a “hard G,” by the way. Shedding the corporate chains allowed Choi to engage his dormant creative spirit. It also helped to inspire an evolution in the food world, with many others following suit into the great food truck unknown

What separated this new school of culinary adventure seekers was the ability to reconnect with the everyday person. An industry once divided between fine dining and mom and pop spots was now experiencing a renaissance as fantastic fusions entered the fray. This freshly found zeal flooded the streets of Los Angeles, overtaking a land once occupied solely by Latino taqueros. With respect to LA’s OG food truckers, Choi admits his initial unease:

“I was always torn between it because for us, there was a whole life and generation before this modern food truck movement. And that’s the culture of the Latino taqueros, especially in Los Angeles. And I think it’s really important to respect your elders and the generation before you and really pay homage to the work that they did for the streets.” 

For Choi, the first bite is key. Without all of the various attractions of a traditional restaurant, a food truck’s first bite determines its success. Going beyond mere business exploitation, there has to exist a real love for the food and respect for the street culture connected to it. “If you don’t love the streets, I don’t see how your street food will evolve or be a success,” Choi says.

Believing money to be merely one ingredient in the recipe of life, it’s the connection to community and communion that has fueled Choi’s creative spirit. These are the pillars he’s built each of his ventures upon. Moving ever-forward while never forgetting the root of his inspiration, Choi further accentuates:  

“Those are the cornerstones of Kogi; hanging out in the parking lot, watching the sun go down, watching the street lamps go up, sharing with each other, talking to each other, going out of your way to be considerate and kind to each other, and still represent the streets.”

Check out Choi’s interview with Talib Kweli on People’s Party to hear more in depth about his growth, current beliefs, and future goals.

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Ben & Jerry’s New Flavor Combats Social Injustice


Photos courtesy of  Ben & Jerry’s

While famous for their delicious ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s has long been involved in social and environmental justice. Their latest campaign finds them partnering with Advancement Project National Office on a new campaign called “Justice ReMix’d.” Justice ReMix’d is a new flavor concoction described as cinnamon and chocolate ice cream with chunks of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownie. It was created to help spotlight structural racism in a broken criminal legal system. To spearhead the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s tapped actor Jessie Williams, of Grey’s Anatomy fame, to help announce the new ice cream flavor.  Aside from acting, Jessie Williams is a prominent voice on the social activism front and is a member of Advancement Project National Office. 

Advancement Project National Office is a multi-racial civil rights organization that has been involved in community work for over a decade. Recently, criminal justice reform has become a hot topic thanks to a handful of documentaries like Ava Duvernay’s “The 13th,” sparking conversation amongst mainstream culture. While tackling social injustice is an up-hill fight, the Justice ReMix’d campaign presents a fun way to connect over a complex subject. Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Ben Cohen had this to say:

“Our approach to creating social change is to raise up the work non-profits are doing on the ground. We bring every resource we have to support them — our business voice, our connection with fans, our Scoop Shop community and of course, ice cream. Somehow, it’s easier to talk about difficult issues over a scoop or two.”  

Judith Browne Dianis, Advancement Project National Office’s Executive Director added, “Our country needs to invest in services that build up communities rather than those that tear them down. That means ending a wealth-based pre-trial detention system that locks people up because they are poor, black or brown. It means dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, divesting from criminalizing students and investing in the creation of high-quality education and services. It’s time to reimagine safety and justice.” 

Justice ReMix’d can be found at grocery stores and Ben & Jerry Scoop Shops nationwide with a portion of the proceeds going towards Advancement Project National Office to support their Free & Safe campaignIn addition to tasty ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s will be sending its Scoop Truck around several states to start conversations, activate members of the community, and give away ice cream. Everyone enjoys ice cream, but now you can enjoy it and show your support for criminal justice reform by purchasing Justice ReMix’d at your local grocery store.

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Trojan Unveils ‘Conecocktions Ice Cream Truck’ To Help Celebrate Penises of All Shapes and Sizes

Trojan Condoms and ice cream cones. Who would have thought they would ever have any connection with each other? Well, if you’ve got enough of an active imagination and appreciate locker room humor, then you’ve already figured out that connection long ago. But for the rest, Trojan has unveiled a ‘Conecocktions Ice Cream Truck’ to raise awareness on penis shaming and encouraging guys to take pride in their package.

Starting today, June 27, folks in New York City can take a stand with the condom brand to help celebrate ‘cones’ of all shapes and sizes. Also in support of the LGBTQ+ community pride festivities and initiatives during WorldPride 2019, the Conecocktion Ice Cream Truck will hit the streets of NYC, hitting up several stops along the way, leading into its ride with the WorldPride NYC 2019 March on Sunday, June 30.

The Conecocktion truck will be offering up a menu of ice cream treats in an assortment of shapes, sizes and flavors, from the Mighty Munchkin to the Off the Hook to the Holy Cow, to celebrate the variety of penises all over the world.

To catch the Conecocktion and celebrate in package positivity, check out the schedule below:

Thursday, June 27

  • 9:30am-10:30am: Albany St. b/w West St. & South End Ave
  • 11:30am-12:30pm: Park Ave South b/w 23rd St. & 24th St.
  • 1:30pm-2:30pm: 40th St. b/w 7th & 8th Ave.
  • 3:30-5:30pm: 8th Ave b/w 56th & 57th St.

Saturday, June 29

  • 10am-2pm: 2nd Ave b/w 4th St. & 5th St.
  • 3pm-6pm: Grand St. & Wooster St.
  • 7pm-10pm: 9th Ave b/w 50th St. & 51st St.

Sunday, June 30

  • 1:30pm: WorldPride NYC 2019 March, starting at 26th St. and 5th Ave.
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This LA Poke Shop Is Topping Their Bowls With Takis

A SoCal poke chain is giving the classic Hawaiian fish dish a true Angeleno twist.

Dakota Weiss, the creative genius behind Sweetfin Poke, has developed a Fiesta Tuna Poke Bowl that adds a ton of fresh LA tastes and combinations.

Mixed in with chunks of fresh tuna are jicama, avocado, grilled corn, and roasted jalapeno. They’re served atop a bed of Mexican chile oil fried rice, drizzled with tequila lime aioli, and topped with Takis.

Together, they add a zesty punch of spicy and citrus flavor that adds the essence of the elote carts of LA into a refreshing bowl of fish.

Sweetfin’s creation is being given out for FREE via the Hubert’s Lemon A Go Go Truck on Friday, November 16th, in Westwood near UCLA. For more information, head to foodbeast.com/huberts.


Created in partnership with Hubert’s. 

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This Chef Puts Mac ‘N Cheese & Pulled Pork Together In An EPIC BBQ Taco

Tacos are one of the eating vessels of choice when you’re in San Diego. Whether it be unique creations or straight outta a truck, tons of places are cramming their food inside of tortillas.

One of the more innovative ones is coming out of the minds of a local food star, who’s put together barbeque, mac and cheese, and tacos for a whirlwind combination of flavors.

This Smokey Pork & Mac Taco comes from the mind of Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien. A local and nationally recognized TV and online food show host, he has his own place, Not Not Tacos, where he brings his zany culinary creations to life.

For the taco, Zien brings together creamy mac and cheese, pulled pork, sour cream, Sriracha, and green onions for a zesty, creamy, and tangy bite.

If you’re interested in trying this taco out for yourself, it’s being given away on the Hubert’s Lemon A Go Go Truck on Saturday, November 17th, nearby SDSU. It’ll be paired alongside bottles of Hubert’s Watermelon Lemonade.

For more details on the giveaway, you can head to foodbeast.com/huberts.

Photos by Pete Pham


Created in partnership with Hubert’s Lemonade

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These Kimchi Fried Chicken Bao Are Being Given Out For FREE, Here Are The Details


Fluffy bao combine with crispy chicken in an explosive combination of flavors in this handheld delicacy.

These Fried Chicken Kimchi Bao were created by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey, who runs the greenACRE Campus Pointe restaurant in San Diego, California. His take on the fluffy bao bun adds levels of texture and taste with each component.

Malarkey starts off with double-breaded tempura fried chicken that’s tossed in a furikake seasoning. That’s topped off with a spicy aioli, kimchi, pickled Fresno chili, and some fresh vegetables for multiple layers of crunch. The sweet bao bun intermingles with the heat of the aioli and kimchi for a delicate and delectable balance of flavor.

If you’re interested in checking this item out, it’ll be given out for FREE via the Hubert’s Lemon A Go Go Truck, where it will be paired with bottles of Hubert’s Raspberry and Strawberry Lemonades. For more information on the giveaway, head to foodbeast.com/huberts.


Created in partnership with Hubert’s. 

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Breaking Down 5 Taco Meats You’ve Seen But Never Tried

If you’re not terribly familiar with Mexican food and the different meats offered at taco trucks, the menu might look a little intimidating when you step up to the register.

It doesn’t help that a lot of these meats don’t sound super appealing when translated to English. For example, cabeza does mean head, but it’s not exactly what you’d expect.

I get it, carne asada (marinated steak) and pollo (chicken) are safe bets when you order your tacos. Hell, you might even trust carnitas thanks to Chipotle (who would have ever thought?).

 

We reached out to Angel Tamayo, owner of Tacos El Venado, one of the more successful taco trucks and stands in Los Angeles, as he offers 11 different kinds of meat, and puts love and care into all of them.

Tacos El Venado is a staple in the L.A. taco scene, and attracts people in droves, as hungry taco veterans know a good one when they see it.

Tamayo helped lay out some of the intricacies of each meat, so that you and I know exactly what we’re getting into. As you’ll soon learn, we’re getting into something tasty.

If you’re someone who’s deep in the taco game, you’re probably already keen to these meats, but this is for the guys and gals who want to take the next step from al pastor and asada.

I’m here to focus on some of the lesser-known meats that you see at taco spots, and give you a little insight on each, so you can make a more informative decision next time you’re at a taco stand and are feeling a little adventurous.

Cabeza

Cabeza is one of my personal favorite taco meats, as it is a tender cut that is typically braised, or steamed, then shredded.

Yes, it is the head of the cow,  but that doesn’t mean you’re eating up eyeballs and skull fragments. Butchers will typically clean up the head for you, as with any part of the cow, basically letting you work with the meaty portions of the head. The head of the cow is actually very meaty and fatty, so when braised, it becomes fall apart tender.

Braised cabeza is arguably one of the softest taco meats, and has a supple mouthfeel to it.

Tamayo’s method of cooking cabeza is “al vapor,” or steamed, which yields similar tenderness, but is not quite as delicate to the bite as when braised.

Not that you’re counting calories when eating tacos or anything, but it is a very heavy taco, if not the heaviest of the bunch.

Suadero

 

Suadero is actually beef brisket, according to Tamayo. The meat comes from the lower chest of the cow, and offers a comparable mouthfeel to cabeza.

It is also a fatty piece of meat, which makes sense if you’re familiar with brisket. It’s a good kind of fatty though. Think of it as a tasty kind of richness that’s there on purpose, not just because someone was too lazy to trim the fat.

Suadero can be offered soft or crispy — but both are equally tasty — as the flavor isn’t compromised, either way.

Suadero isn’t offered at all taco trucks, but when you do see it on the menu, you definitely have to go for it.

Tripas

Beef tripe is kind of an uncommon meat in most taco meat selections, so I understand why someone would have reservations about it.

In layman’s terms, tripas are the lining of the cow’s stomach, and one of the chewiest meats taco trucks have to offer.

While it depends on preference, Tamayo says that most of his customers prefer that the tripas be crispy, so they are pan fried by default.

Sad to say, of all the meats on this list, tripas are the easiest to get wrong. Tripas need to be properly cleaned out and stripped of a good deal of fat. Because it is time consuming to clean it, some taco places don’t do it.

As you can see, tripas have an excess of fat that needs to be trimmed.

Tamayo stressed the importance of cleaning the tripas inside and out, as it makes the difference between a tasty taco, and a forgetful experience.

Honestly, for tripas, you have to have trust in the taquero, read Yelp reviews, or find out through word of mouth. If you’re not sure that the place does their tripas justice, don’t go for it.

If anything, Tamayo’s Tacos El Venado surely cleans them, so if you want to try tripas for the first time, that is one spot where you can start out.

It’s understandable that Tripas are probably one of the strangest meats on the list, and it’s not for everybody, but they’re worth the old college try. If clean and crisped up properly, they might end up being your new favorite.

Lengua

I think lengua is one that scares people the most, because they think they’re going to see Gene Simmons’s slimy tongue laid out on a tortilla. That’s not how tongue tacos work, though. The beef tongue skin is peeled and cleaned, so what you’re actually getting a is a tender meat that’s been marinated and diced.

You might be sensing a trend with the meats on this list, as a lot of them are tender. If you’re into melt-in-your-mouth meats, you’ve been blowing it by sticking with carne asada all your life.

Lengua is another beef that is typically steamed or braised according to Tamayo.

You’re for sure doing yourself a favor by getting a lengua burrito next time you go to a taco truck.

Buche

Buche, like tripas, is also stomach, except it’s pork not beef. It is typically cooked in lard, and slow-cooked up to two hours.

While probably not as chewy as tripas, it is still chewier than most taco meats, and that’s just something you have to be OK with.

Buche is also a lot simpler than tripas, as it does not take an arduous amount of cleaning, but still requires patience in its cooking, to ensure it is tender and ready to be dressed in a taco and salsa.

The texture is actually similar to cooked tofu, as it has a slightly toothsome chewiness to it. Unlike tofu, though, it’s a lot heavier, seeing how it was steeped in fat for two hours.

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Hopefully this guide encourages you to try a new taco meat. Every part of the animal is fair game, and tastes good when cooked correctly. There’s a reason that these meats are popular in the taco scene, just make sure you’re going to a good taco spot that puts the TLC needed for a delicious taco.

Don’t be scurred.