HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


spinoff post - is san diego really ready for food trucks??

  • 16
  • Share

i live in los angeles (born and raised in SD) and have witnessed the birth of the food truck phenomenon. however the success of the trucks relies not only on the quality of their food, but on building a loyal following and having people who are willing to chase the next big thing. i feel that san diego is a very laid back place where food really isn't all that serious - not to say that there isn't plenty of amazing food from all levels of dining which of course there is...but are you ready to follow trucks on twitter? are you really going to get worked up into a frenzy and spend 2 hours in line like they do up here for kogi tacos?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
  1. tastycakes, this is exactly something I have pondered as well!!

    I was so thrilled to see a few food trucks popping up here. But I agree with you - SD is very laid back and wow, people really do not get excited about food here. I will try to talk to my co-workers about a new restaurant or something great I ate and NO ONE CARES.... I tend to get really excited about my food so I feel like a weirdo.

    One time I got some Tabe BBQ tacos and brought them back to my office and the tacos looked so awesome, I ran to a co-worker and was like "Look at these!!" thinking he would be like "Wow, those look great!" Instead he crinkled up his nose and was like "Ugh, what is that?" and I said "Korean BBQ tacos" and again he was like "that sounds weird. You eat weird stuff." the POINT I am trying to make (yes, there is one) is that I also think people in SD can be closed minded and are not very adventurous when it comes to eating. (I know this is a blanket statement which could get me in trouble) I have told various people about how great the fish tacos are on the Mariscos German truck and they are like "Ew, you eat fish from a TRUCK?" That mindset will have to change if these trucks are going to thrive!!

    I lived near NYC for a few years and also spent some time in Portland, OR (which has insane food trucks). I *love* food trucks and personally am ready for the food truck revolution, I am already following them all on Twitter and FB, but I don't know a lot of other people who are.

    Maybe the food trucks are what will change this city into a gourmand's paradise. :)

    Mariscos German
    3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

    11 Replies
    1. re: uberkelly

      "I will try to talk to my co-workers about a new restaurant or something great I ate and NO ONE CARES.... I tend to get really excited about my food so I feel like a weirdo."

      Hell, I think there are about 15 regular posters on here in all of san diego. 15 weridos. Ha.

      1. re: stevewag23

        Well, I moved to San Diego for the weather and the lifestyle.. if I wanted a great food scene I'd still be back in NY. ;) That's not to say there aren't some gems here. :)

        1. re: uberkelly

          True, there is no hope for NYC to have good weather like us.

          But maybe some day we can have great food like NYC.

          1. re: stevewag23

            Wow! Something must be improving for that kind of optimism! Cheers to that. Also, I work in Del Mar (east of the 5) and would love a food truck to come up that way! We do have an awesome organic chef that delivers some pretty great stuff (today was local nectarine, basil, goat cheese salad and free range chicken meatballs over quinoa) but other than that and jimbos we are really lacking.

            1. re: jturtle

              "Something must be improving for that kind of optimism! "

              Ha. I am always positive. Plus I just spent 6 weeks in Spain, so the whole world has taken a brighter hue.

      2. re: uberkelly

        San Diego doesn't have exclusivity when it comes to closed-mindedness with food. I'd be willing to bet you'd encounter just as many narrow-minded people in LA or NYC. They're the ones who regularly eat at Denny's, and enable an Olive Garden and Red Lobster to flourish in Manhattan.

        I think the popularity of Mariscos German proves that San Diego can support food trucks. MIHO ran out of food for 30th on 30th, for example.

        I've lived here since 1984, and there's no question that the food scene has really been blossoming here within the past few years. I don't think it's just a trend, either.

        Mariscos German
        3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

        1. re: Josh

          good points, josh. :)

          However the people eating at Red Lobster and TGI Fridays in Manhattan are all tourists.

          1. re: uberkelly

            OK, substitute any of the mediocre Ray's outposts. Same deal. I love eating in NYC, but you can find bad food there too.

            1. re: Josh

              Yeah, just go to any Mexican restaurant in NYC. People rave about NY as a great food town but they take one of the world's great cuisines and turn it into a tasteless pile of grey mush topped with melted cheese. :(

        2. re: uberkelly

          I think the quality has to be good for people to lineup and so far not many of the food trucks have had that. Other than the fixed Mexican trucks (Mariscos German, Torta Ahogada, Mariscos Pescador, etc.), MIHO seems like the 1st real one with promise.

          1. re: uberkelly

            I think it depends more on the people than where they are from. A lot of the people we know are adventuresome when it comes to eating so they are always excited when I tell them about a new taco truck or about having lunch in someone's driveway. I agree that generally people in SD may not be as into following food trucks around but I think there is definitely a segment of the population that would be into it. I have tried a few of the trucks around town and have enjoyed them all. I want to try MIHO and I thought Tabe sounded good as well but it seems to get some mixed reviews on the board.

          2. Two points on this, I guess:

            1) I've noticed the same sort of attitude with my coworkers as well-- a lot of times they'll ask me where I've eaten lately-- or ask for a recommendation-- I don't know if they ever actually go to any of them. I have taken groups of them out to places like Super Cocina before, and although they enjoyed the food, I don't know if they ever mentioned returning. I originally figured that this had something to do with all the transplants from other places, since only like 5% of my coworkers are actually native to Southern California. Those folks aren't any more adventurous than the others though, so I may be rethinking this idea. I had a discussion with one of the food truck vendors recently who actually thought the transplants were MORE likely to be seeking them out than the lifers.

            (I am convinced that this is the cause of the ubiquitous hamburger joints people blame the Zonies for-- because I know somebody that moved to Arizona from my hometown that eats nothing but hamburgers...)

            Truth be told, I can't remember people being that much more adventurous when I lived up in LA, it's just that there were ENOUGH people who cared to actually sustain things like great food trucks.

            This brings me to my second point--

            2) Right now, the (moving) food trucks as a whole aren't good enough to be building a frenzy. The only bright spots I've tried are the MIHO gastrotruck, which I did see people standing in line for for over a half hour on Saturday, and the Copper Chimney (but good luck finding it). Tabe is mediocre to good, Kalbiq is mediocre to bad, and Food Junkies is glorified cafeteria food. I haven't tried the Kiwi Coach yet, but I assume it will be basically the same as the Bareback Bar and Grill which has passable hamburgers.

            There are a bunch of other stationary trucks that do great Mexican food, but most of them are in neighborhoods that people won't drive to. Mariscos German (besides OB), Tacos El Paisa, La Fachada, et al. Since these are always in the same lots, they are more like taco stands than anything, and are probably not relevant to the discussion at hand.

            Super Cocina
            3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

            La Fachada
            20 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

            Tacos El Paisa
            840 S 47th St, San Diego, CA 92113

            Mariscos German
            3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

            2 Replies
            1. re: ikeg

              The concept of the long tail is what's making the food trucks viable. You don't need to have a Cheesecake Factory-sized clientele to make a living, and if you offer something that foodies like, you'll probably survive. It's been heartening to me to see places with quality food thriving (or at least surviving) through this economic downturn. I actually think there are enough people who like good food for trucks with a good product to make it.

              1. re: Josh

                I also feel that the runaway success of Kogi in LA has more to do with it being a fad thing than it having wide appeal among a different population. I think it's simply the case that the people in SD tend to favor different fads and this has led to the abundance of mediocre places in PB and Gaslamp.

                I agree with Josh here; the foodies are likely to be the ones who return regularly to support places that produce good food and contribute to the success of new food trucks, not any generated hype.

            2. If the food truck serves good food, and parks in the right place or places, it will do fine. There are certain neighborhoods that would clearly support an innovative food truck - North Park, Golden Hills, OB, Hillcrest - and some that would not - PB, the Gaslamp. That said, unless one of these trucks becomes a tourist attraction, there's no way people would spend two hours in line here. We're not LA, and we never will be.

              The key is to start slow, build up the clientele, and work the creative, interesting neighborhoods. In other words, do what Mariscos German has done.

              Mariscos German
              3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104