San Luis Obispo, CA: Couple brings authentic Cuban flavor to Food Truck Night

By Hannah Frye  |  Mustang News

San Luis Obispo has a wide selection of different foods, from Thai to Mexican to Italian. But one cornerstone cultural cuisine was missing, according to Chrystal Trenado and her husband, Arqui, before they came to town.

The couple operates Cubanissimo, a Cuban food truck that first hit the Central Coast in February 2016. Since then, they have served local residents on the first Monday night of each month at Food Truck Night, an event hosted by 805 Foodtrucks Group and the San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department at Santa Rosa Park.

“I like the community and food aspect, like how it is in other countries such as Cuba,” Chrystal said. “People come together to have a meal. It’s more than just stuffing your face to get full.”

Born and raised in Cuba, Arqui said he dreamed of starting a Cuban restaurant. He moved to the the United States in 1997, but the lack of Cuban food in San Luis Obispo pre-Cubanissimo made the couple nervous to bring a new taste. Nevertheless, they opened the truck. A little more than a year later, the Trenados opened Cubanissimo Coffee House & Cafe in Orcutt, about 45 minutes away.

As of now, Chrystal said they are still the only Cuban restaurants in San Luis Obispo. Many local eateries, however, have added Cuban items to their menus.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?” Chrystal said.

The food truck features a shortened version of the full Cubanissimo Cafe menu: two sandwiches, two rice dishes, small sides and unique Cuban beverages and desserts.

One of Cubanissimo’s most popular dishes, according to Chrystal, is the Cubano Sandwich, which consists of Cuban bread, pork, Swiss cheese, ham, pickles and mustard with a side of yuca fries. The second top dish for the Cubanissimo food truck is the Pollo Con Papas, which includes chicken in a tomato based sauce served over sweet Cuban rice.

“With a food truck, you’re kind of lucky, because you always get our top sellers,” Chrystal said.

In addition to Cubanissimo, the group solely consists of local food trucks with a variety of food styles and tastes like Feed My Seoul (Koren barbecue), Lido’s (Philly cheesesteaks) and Beau’s Dogs (gourmet hot dogs).

The mission of Food Truck Night is “to have a variety of flavors, so you can rotate each month with what new food you choose to try,” San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department representative Sarah Billeter said.

With the goal to reach more college students, Food Truck Night was moved from Emerson Park downtown to Santa Rosa Park, closer to Cal Poly’s campus. Trenado said she wants to see more students, as she has a feeling they will want to try new food and might not know about the event yet.

“I like this event because all the trucks in the group produce quality food,” Trenado said. “It’s neat to be able to work with other food trucks like that.”

The Trenados bring Cubanissimo’s grub not only to San Luis Obispo but also to Santa Barbara County and said they are looking into buying another food truck. Eventually, Chrystal and her husband hope to open a restaurant in San Luis Obispo, in addition to their Orcutt cafe.

Food Truck Night will occur on the first Monday of every month, except in December, as that Monday is right after Thanksgiving and many of the workers spend that time with family, according to Billeter.

Cubanissimo’s food truck is currently open every Thursday from 11 a.m – 2 p.m. at 4051 Broad St. in downtown San Luis Obispo.