Family Fun at the Food Truck Festival in Santa Anita, CA

Jennifer Stern July 19, 2012 No Comments

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Santa Anita Food Truck Festival

One of more than 60 food trucks at the Santa Anita Food Truck Festival

The City of Angels has become synonymous with the food truck. Spend any amount of time in our fair city and you’re sure to spot them rolling down the street, restaurants-on-wheels catering to as many different types and taste-buds as there are people in our city of 12 million.

No longer simply humble “taco trucks” hawking their wares on street corners, the modern, 21st-century food truck can be found dishing up everything from gourmet grilled cheese and burgers to seafood and sushi, and everything in between. The entrepreneurial spirit that drives millions to make Los Angeles their adopted home has given birth to proprietors who have found the food truck more economical and flexible than a traditional restaurant location. These restaurateurs are able to bring exotic food from their homelands (and a taste of home, for many) to businesses all over the city.

Food at Santa Anita Food Truck Festival

My three boys chow down on pizza and Asian food

With their ability to move all over L.A., many of these trucks have developed a following of pretty obsessive types (myself included), who will stalk them via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to find out where in the city they will pop up next. I have to be honest, it’s an exhausting and time-consuming task for a foodie like myself.

Well, luckily for me there is an L.A. event that takes all the legwork out of tracking down my favorite food trucks. My family and I recently combined a gastronomic delight with a family fun day when we attended the Santa Anita Food Truck Festival at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California. More than 60 different food trucks congregated at the park to hawk more varieties of food than my taste-buds could possibly handle at once. But I fully intended to try my best.

Lettuce Wraps Santa Anita Food Truck Festival

Delicious shrimp ceviche lettuce wraps from the Shrimp Pimp truck

No matter where you hail from in the world, you were sure to find something to please your palate from the infinite variety of foods available–from Indian to Cajun, from German to Greek, from vegan to meat-and-potatoes only. When we first arrived, we were so overwhelmed by the diversity of menus that we had to take a couple of laps around the park to take it all in (which was no small feat!). This whetted our appetites even more, but made it possibly even more difficult to choose. I’m one of those people who even finds it impossible to choose from a diner menu.

Ultimately, my husband and I opted to start at the Shrimp Pimp, where we sampled some delicious (if rather pricey) shrimp tacos and lettuce wraps. These were merely the appetizer for us. We moved on to one of my personal favorite trucks around Burbank, the Grilled Cheese Truck, but found the line so incredibly long at this VERY popular truck that we got discouraged and decided to move on. A couple of our boys found the fare at Valentino’s Pizza and the Meet N’ Potatoes trucks to their liking. We also devoured delicious chicken tikka masala from the Bollywood Bites truck, and would have liked to try the Lobsta Truck as well–but alas, the long queue struck again, and deterred us from eating more seafood (which, in hindsight, was probably a good thing).

We finished our international culinary journey the Italian way–at Palazzolo’s Gelato Truck, where we were delighted by the chocolate and hazelnut gelatos–absolutely perfect on this very hot day. Our three boys opted for more “American” ice cream, buying cones from Longboard’s Ice Cream.

Santa Anita Racetrack

View from the grandstand at Santa Anita Racetrack, where we played the horses

I also simply got a big kick out of walking around and looking at all the great creative names people have come up with for their trucks: the Nom Nom Truck, Baby’s Badass Burgers, The Munch Box, and perhaps my favorite of all, Truck Norris (the truck is black with a large fist painted on each side of the truck. Pretty intimidating).

Once we had eaten waaaay more than our fill, we checked out the other activities. In addition to the food truck fiesta, the day featured live music from The Polyester Players and The M-80′s, and kids’ amusements including an inflatable giant slide, carnival games, pony rides, a bounce house, and face painting.

Since we were at a race track, and also since neither I nor my boys had ever seen a “live” horse race before, we decided to head up into the grandstands and check out a few of the races for fun. It was also getting almost unbearably hot and we thought a few seats in the shade with a cool drink might be just the thing. Never a betting person by nature, I thought it might be fun to wager just a small amount of money on one of the horses to make it more exciting. My husband agreed, and the family was all soon cheering on a beautiful black thoroughbred named “Ruler of Dubai.” Amazingly enough, our horse pulled out in front for the majority of the race, but he ultimately disappointed us by coming in fourth. Still, it was an exciting experience, and one I’d definitely like to try again.

The Food Truck Fest is held periodically throughout the year at Santa Anita Park (normally spring and fall). For more information go to: www.santaanitalive.com.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Jennifer Stern is a mom of three teen boys, who provide her with constant inspiration to write. She is also a fitness professional/junkie who teaches everything from Spinning to Zumba. A New Jersey native, this is her second time living in Southern California. She loves the L.A. lifestyle, but does miss eating decent pizza and bagels--so she consoles herself with excellent Mexican food. She and her family live in Burbank.

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