If you’re tired of cooking and in search of a fast, delicious and affordable culinary experience, check out the offerings at Santa Fe’s food trucks. Found at different locations throughout the city, these mobile restaurants are cooking up a variety of dishes, ranging from traditional local fare to international cuisine.
A heavenly way to start any morning is by enjoying a freshly made donut from the Craft Donuts & Coffee food truck (502 Old Santa Fe Trail). In addition to the food truck’s eight signature donuts, which include such gems as The Homer (a strawberry-glazed donut covered in rainbow sprinkles), the Turtle (a chocolate-glazed donut topped with crushed pecans and drizzled with caramel) and a Maple Bacon (maple-glazed donut with fresh-made bacon crumbles on top), the menu features a very popular cinnamon roll and weekly specials. Owners Craig and Michelle McGregor change the menu seasonally, so don’t be surprised if a pumpkin cheesecake donut is offered in the fall or a peppermint creation in December. Each donut pairs perfectly with a handmade Italian soda or a specialty coffee drink made with Albuquerque’s Red Rock Roasters coffee.
When it’s time for lunch or an early takeout dinner, check out traditional Mexican cooking at Compas Tacos (6161 Airport Road), which is located in an empty lot east of the KSK Buddhist Center. Since 2017 owners and married couple Jesus García and Minerva Rodriguez have been serving their homemade quesadillas, burritos, tacos and tortas to their Airport Road neighbors and customers who make the drive to their Southside location. Garcia developed his culinary skills through working at Taos restaurants for several years. The couple’s most popular offering is the Mary Tierra tacos, which is a delectable combination of shrimp, bacon and beef smothered with tomatoes, onions, lettuce and cilantro. Chile lovers should note that the food truck only serves dishes with homemade red chile. “Red chile is most popular with our customers,” explains Rodriguez in Spanish through her daughter, Dulce Garcia. “We stopped selling green chile because there was no time to make it.”
If barbecue is on your mind, visit to Santa Fe Barbeque (502 Old Santa Fe Trail) for meats with a little chile kick to them. “We put red chile in the barbecue rub,” explains owner Patrick Shaughnessy, who recently bought the business. “And everything can come with green chile.” A variety of sandwiches is on the menu, including ones featuring beef brisket, pulled pork, sausage, smoked salmon and turkey legs. Meats also can be purchased by the pound. “We have customers who buy large quantities of pork belly and turkey legs whenever they stop by,” Shaughnessy adds. Just look to the left of the ordering window if you want to see where your meat is cooked. Sweet scents come from Shaughnessy’s smoker, which is always parked next to the food truck. Side dishes include corn on the cob, potato salad and coleslaw.
Burritos are king at El Chile Toreado (807 Early Street), which is parked just a few blocks off Cerrillos Road near the intersection of St Francis Drive. For seventeen years the Medina family operated the business on Cordova Road. Two years ago, they moved the truck to Early Street to be able to provide outdoor seating. “The menu hasn’t changed much in nineteen years,” explains co-owner Lester Medina. “We’ve just tweaked it a little bit.” Breakfast burritos are made with two eggs, potatoes, green chile and cheese, while lunch burritos are served with rice, beans and your choice of filling. Popular with customers is a burrito with four kinds of meat. Among the meat offerings are pork stomach, shredded cheek meat, pork rinds in green sauce and chicken with lemon, pepper, onions and jalapeños. The menu also includes tacos and quesadillas. If you’re not in the mood for Mexican food, try one of El Chile Toreado’s hot dogs. Mr. Polish, made with fried shredded pork, bacon, beans and cheese, is a top seller.
Authentic Italian pizza is the star of the show at Bruno’s “The Biz” food truck (1512 Paseo de Peralta). Traditional pies are prepared in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy. The temperature inside the oven is so hot that a pizza only takes ninety seconds to bake. “Giordano Bruno (the patriarch) came from Italy and immigrated to New York, and his pies evolved into what they are today — the New York pie, thin and crispy,” explains co-owner Vincent Marchi, one of the members of this fifth-generation family business. “The dough is infused with IPA beer from local Santa Fe and Albuquerque breweries.” Marchi says the most popular menu items are the Tri Carne, which has salami, pepperoni and Italian sausage, and the Punchy, which features salami, mushrooms and onions. Bruno’s also offers a strictly vegetarian pizza and has fourteen veggie toppings that can be added to any of its selections.
A newcomer on the food truck block, Ras Rody’s Jamaican Vegan Kitchen (1312 Agua Fria Street), is the to-go place for vegan Jamaican dishes. Rody changes his offerings daily, depending on what’s inspiring him. The combo plate — vegetables, beans, rice and more — is always on the menu, but its specific ingredients vary from day to day. “I don’t use a recipe book; I come up with all the recipes,” explains Rody, who cooked at three restaurants in Rhode Island years ago. “I am definitely influenced by feedback and suggestions from my customers.” Real coconut, freshly prepared by Rody, is in most items on the menu. While the majority of ingredients have to be purchased from suppliers, Rody incorporates greens from the garden behind his food truck into his dishes. Helping with the business are his eighteen-year-old son, Benge, and his personal and business partner, Michelle Wurth.
Dessert is always refreshing at Freezie Fresh (2860 Cerrillos Road), a rolled ice cream business founded by Xzavian Cookbey in 2016 in a small portable cart. This delicious made-to-order treat starts when Cookbey blends house vanilla custard and handcrafted flavors on a frozen stainless pan. The mixture cools on the pan before it’s transformed into the shape of four ice cream rosettes. “We have eight different flavors, but we can make them into endless combinations,” explains Cookbey. “I’ve got one customer who asks me to put lemon cream with cookies and cream and gets pretty ecstatic about it.”
Emily Van Cleve is a Santa Fe-based freelance writer and journalist. Since 1994, her work has been featured in local, regional and national magazines and newspapers.