Food Trucks Spawn Brick-and-Mortar Restaurants

The truck-to-table movement means you'll always know where to find otherworldly eats

5411 Empanadas in Chicago has upgraded to a brick-and-mortar shop, along with other successful food trucks.

5411 Empanadas
2850 N. Clark St.

The Vibe: Strong word-of-mouth following has allowed this Argentine gem specializing in empanadas to upgrade itself from a mobile operation to a proper café where diners can enjoy delectable pastry pockets and expertly brewed Intelligentsia coffee.

What to Order: Empanada of bacon, date, and goat cheese; empanada of braised beef and sautéed carrots and onions.


El Naranjo
85 Rainey St.

The Vibe: Culinary Institute of America instructor Iliana de la Vega and her husband, Ernesto Torrealba, were still operating a lime-green mobile eatery in 2010 when Texas Monthly declared it one of the state's best Mexican restaurants. To feed the swelling crowds, the couple expanded into an old cottage on the southeastern edge of downtown that has the added bonus of serving a killer margarita made with a choice of 35 tequilas.

What to Order: Shrimp in green pumpkin-seed mole; pan-fried poblano peppers filled with slow-cooked pork, tomatillos, and olives.

Los Angeles
8809 W. Pico Blvd.

The Vibe: Komodo was one of the first on the LA-fusion food-truck scene, turning out Asian riffs on Mexican comfort food. And now it has a sleek West LA space with an open kitchen and a bigger menu — but the prices are still street-friendly.

What to Order: Seared ahi fillet with ponzu sauce; deep-fried-Alaskan-cod burrito with a grape-and-almond salad.

— Matt McCue, Details


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