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Apr 23, 2012 05:40 PM

The Truck Stop, Santa Cruz

In another thread, “toodie jane” asked, “…any dining favorites from your trip to SC last year?” Quite frankly, after striking out at some lower-priced, recommended places, we reverted to mostly cooking for ourselves at the vacation rental using local produce from the farmers market/stands and provisions from El Salchichero, Shoppers Corner and Stagnaro’s. But if you don’t have the time or space to cook, The Truck Stop pays good attention of product sourcing served up in a mobile format. The breakfast chilaquiles were the best thing I found to eat in Santa Cruz.

I was lucky to catch it on a day when it was away from its usual route and instead parked overlooking Steamer Lane for the Cold Water Classic surfing competition. A great day by the ocean.

I had really wanted to try the arepas I’d heard about. But none were offered this morning, so I ordered the chilaquiles. Here’s the breakfast menu (other examples on the website), it changes often.

While I waited, I noticed this thank you note to local farmers that supply the truck. Truly nice to see them acknowledged for their support.

And Truck Stop may be one of the few mobile vendors with its own portable herb garden. Here’s the grow-your-own cilantro.

While different from my preferred style, no denying that this plate of chilaquiles was quite excellent. Skip the orangeade though (too weak), instead spring for a brewed-to-order Four Barrel coffee.

The chilaquiles start with freshly made crispy corn chips (rather than pan-fried leftover tortillas) baptized judiciously with smoky ancho sauce. On first glance, the saucing looked skimpy to me compared to the customary drenching, but the ancho salsa was so flavorful, this amount was plenty and the chips stayed crunchy. Two cheeses (Monterey jack and queso fresco), a runny-yolked fried egg, squiggles of crema, and onion topped the pile of sauced chips. And what really made this sing was the dribble of cilantro pesto-like green sauce kicking in a fresh herbal note. The balance and detail of the preparation show a chef’s hand. So much goodness for only $6 (including tax).

I tried to return to the truck on our last day in the Cruz. But The Truck Stop tweeted that it had mechanical problems and would not be open that day. Since then, this truck has faced licensing and venue issues but continues to persevere. Keep your fingers crossed and send positive thoughts as this truck is a gem. I hope to catch up with The Truck Stop some day soon to try more of the menu.

Calendar and locations for The Truck Stop on its website. Currently during slow season (April 2012), the truck is operating only on Saturdays and Sundays.

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  1. I was really excited when I spotted the sign listing chilaquiles on the board of the Truck Stop at a new-for-me farmer's market in SC on Sunday. Being addicted to them, I placed an order. In the meantime, I looked it up on chowhound and saw your post, Melanie, and asked for Four Barrel coffee -- but they no longer have it. (bummer, cause it's my fave.)

    While I really enjoyed the chilaquiles, I was at first quite disappointed. My notion of the dish is that the eggs etc are all baked together, so the tortillas get soft and absorb the flavors in the beans and salsa. This is more like nachos style: everything is piled on top of the tortilla chips. That said, it was fabuloso. The chips are thin and fresh and flavorful. And they are piled with mostly organic, locally sourced ingredients. My plate was scraped clean. I was a happy hound.

    3 Replies
    1. re: escargot3

      Nachos style is an apt description. I'm with you in liking the contrast between crisp and softer parts of the tortilla soaked with sauce. But despite my prejudices, I loved Truck Stop's version. The two sauces are quite remarkable and the egg as runny-yolked as I could hope for.

      Quite remarkable that you hit TWO farmers markets during your weekend!

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        'twas not by intent that we meandered around 2 farmer's markets last weekend. Sunday was an accidental drive by. We slammed on the breaks when passing the latter (I think it might be called Live Oak Farmer's Mkt?) and I was wondering if I might be super duper lucky and score another ceviche tostada. Or take a chance and try a different tostada from the lovely folks at La Marea: the seafood tostada. But no such luck. So I mosied over to The Truck Stop instead.

        1. re: escargot3

          Yes, the Sunday market is Live Oak. That was our local FM when we had the beach house in Santa Cruz last year.

          I found this page that says La Marea sells at the Aptos and Monterey markets.

          I've also seen vague mentions that they are in Sunnyvale and Mountain View. If you have a chance to follow-up on that, pls let us know on the SF board.

          La Marea of the Sea
          Rudy and Maria Figueroa
          109 Sycamore Drive
          Santa Cruz, CA

    2. The Truck Stop is amazing. I have never had anything bad from it. I love the fresh arepa's and the chilaquiles are delicious. A few weeks ago they had a superb sausage and egg taco with gravy. Yum! Some of the best food in SC.

      1. thanks for the info heavy reply. and the great photos as always.