Galvan’s Food Catering Keeps On Truckin’

Janet Galvan and husband David (not pictured) have owned and run their truck for 11 years. Photo - Michael Aushenker
Janet Galvan and husband David (not pictured) have owned and run their truck for 11 years. Photo - Michael Aushenker

By Michael Aushenker | PacificPalisadesPatch

Word of mouth can be mouthwatering, as anyone who has tried a preparada at the bottom of Temescal Canyon Road can attest.

For 11 years, David and Janet Galvan have served authentic Mexican breakfasts and lunches at the Galvan’s Food Catering truck from the same Temescal Canyon Road location above Pacific Coast Highway.

With a clear Pacific Ocean view, the Galvan’s truck has been parked in the same spot in Lower Temescal Park since 1999, when the Galvans bought the truck and the route from a previous owner. The truck, which employs five including the hands-on Galvans, offers familiar Mexican food as well as some curveballs culled from David Galvan’s personal and family recipes from his native Jalisco, Mexico.

Lunchtime is always busy at the Galvan's Food Catering truck. Photo Credit Michael Aushenker

Galvan prides himself on using fresh ingredients and creating handmade corn tortillas and homemade tortilla chips.

“One of the things I try to do is make Mexican food like I had in Mexico. The real stuff,” said Galvan.

Amid the real stuff is an invention or two, such as the preparadas (a new wrinkle on the chicken quesadilla).

Recently, customers lined up at the truck despite chilly temperatures. Many seem to know the Galvans and vice versa.

Galvan points out a customer placing an order to one of the truck’s three cooks. “He’s a regular. He always orders the meatball soup,” he said.
On this day, the albondigas, as it is called, is popular. It’s Galvan’s grandmother’s recipe.

The customer, a Mexican man in a cowboy hat, walks away with a generous container of soup that costs $5 and is worth its culinary weight in gold. The thick meatballs arrive packed with rice and spices while the cooked vegetables (carrots, potatoes, celery) taste as fresh as the fish Galvan uses in his ceviche.

Galvan's ceviche. Photo Credit Michael Aushenker

“It’s the best food this side of the Mississippi,” said “Big Dog,” who shows up at 11 a.m. with two fellow city workers.

“It’s hot and it’s good,” said colleague Marcel Bertrand, who oversees maintenance at city parks in Pacific Palisades.

Galvan enjoys “running my own business. And meeting all kinds of hardworking people,” including Latino immigrant workers, Santa Monica police officers, Pali High students and male supermodels.

“I discovered the truck last summer,” said one such model, Palisadian Bruce Hulse, who tried the ceviche at the urging of a friend. “I tried it and it’s the best. I’ve tried restaurants all over the world, and it’s the best.”

Even other restaurateurs, such as the folks who drive down from a popular Zuma Beach establishment, frequent the Galvan’s truck.

Other popular dishes are sopes (tostadas filled with beef or chicken) and the coctiles camaron y pulpo (shrimp and octopus cocktails). Ceviche (citrus-marinated seafood) tacos cost $2 each, as does the chicken empanada (which is fried but not greasy). Carnitas (pulled pork) and carne asada (roasted beef) tacos cost $1.50 each, the fish or shrimp, $1.75 each, and $5 gets you the full rice-and-beans combo. The chile rojo is something special: shards of beef intertwined with cooked cactus and sauce that tastes piquant but not too spicy.

Photo Credit Michael Aushenker

Sauce is critical, according to Galvan: “A taco is not a taco if you don’t have some salsa on it.”

Janet Galvan points out options for vegetarians: veggie burritos, salads, and health-conscious aloe drinks.

In addition to Mexican fare, the Galvans offer such morning selections as breakfast burritos and sandwiches, as well as burgers, hot dogs and fries. As the truck’s name suggests, they also cater parties and events.

That Galvan authenticity goes back to Jalisco, where Galvan grew up in the coastal town of Barra de Navidad with his fisherman father. Galvan’s mother died when he was 9, and he often cooked for his three younger siblings.

Galvan came to Southern California when he was 18. For 15 years, he worked in the restaurant business for a popular Italian chain in the Valley and Hollywood. Then “I opened that place from scratch,” he said of a Manhattan Beach Italian eatery owned by New Yorkers. The Galvans married 11 years ago and purchased their truck at the time.

“My best friend’s mom happened to know David,” said Janet, who is of Cuban descent and was born and raised in Hawthorne. “She had been trying to set me up with him and I kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’ By coincidence, we met [randomly at a club].’ “

Galvan seems indifferent to the gourmet food truck trend covered by the L.A. media since 2008. He hasn’t felt a significant bump in business thanks to the truck craze, as sales have always remained pretty steady. “I try to focus on what we do, not pay attention to what’s going on,” Galvan said.

Unlike gourmet trucks, some lunch trucks suffer from a “roach coach” stigma as greasy, unhealthy food outlets, but not the Galvan’s truck, according to its regulars.

“I don’t usually eat at trucks, but David and Janet are good people,” Joe Leyva said. “I’ve never had a bad meal here. There’s nothing I don’t like here. David is a professional chef.”

With dreams of taking his enterprise a notch further.

“We wanted to get a business of our own,” Galvan said. “Now our dream is to open a restaurant.”