Call it the naked lunch. No, we’re not talking about the William S. Burroughs junkie novel (do junkies even eat?), but a novel lunch truck where you order sandwich-style or without the bun — ”naked.”
Clean Street Food, the brainchild of chef Jack Harding, sticks to a small, sophisticated menu, focusing on freshness. It’s a lunch truck bringing simple, relatively healthy food to the street.
Ordered naked style, the marinated steak, sliced Parmesan with Caesar salad and chopped tomato is a substantial dish, with generous amounts of flavorful meat and tangy cheese to keep hunger at bay.
Fried chicken breast with shredded red cabbage salad and lemon aioli is a vast improvement on any fast-food joint’s chicken sandwich. At $7.25, it’s quite a bit more expensive, but the tangy cabbage and hint of garlic as well as the tiny chopped veggie and chickpea side salad boost its worth.
If you want chicken and can handle a bit of spice, a more-interesting option is the Thai chicken with red cabbage and sambal — a salty, chile-based sauce. The vinegary crunch of the cabbage mixes nicely with the heat of the sambal. This sandwich is my favorite by far.
Vegans can order the Basque chickpea salad with cabbage and herb lemonette. It’s tasty enough, but the steak and chicken only strengthened my resolve to continue eating meat. The truck also offers grilled pork with pickled onions, cilantro, romaine and chipotle sauce; and sirloin sliders.
French fries are thick, crisp and not at all greasy, sprinkled with herbs and served with three types of aioli — chile, chipotle and lemon.
If you like your sides on the healthier side, shredded red cabbage salad is on many of the sandwiches, and Caesar salad graces the steak sandwich.
Sandwiches range from $6 to $7.75, and sides cost $2 to $3.50
The dessert menu varies, but one day the truck was serving cupcakes from Cake Bar L.A. The Irish Car Bomb, unfortunate name notwithstanding, is unbearably rich. Really, I dare you to try to eat the entire cupcake in one sitting. I cut it in increasingly small pieces to make it last throughout the day — emergency chocolate rationing. It is Guinness-infused chocolate cake with whiskey dark chocolate ganache and Baileys buttercream frosting. William S. Burroughs would’ve loved it.
The truck makes its culinary pit stops at lunch and dinnertime in Burbank, North Hollywood, Glendale, La Crescenta, Santa Monica and elsewhere. The schedule can be found at cleanstreetfood.com. On some stops, Harding, who graduated at the top of his class at the Baltimore International Culinary Arts Academy, is on hand in his red chef’s coat, explaining the menu and answering questions, like the one from a woman who walked up to the truck in North Hollywood and read the menu board: “What’s ‘naked’ mean?”
Rebecca Bryant is a Los Angeles-area writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Caribbean Travel & Life and other publications. She’s eaten everything from grasshopper tacos in Oaxaca, Mexico, to wild boar in Belize.
What: Clean Street Food
When and Where: check cleanstreetfood.com
Cost: Sides $2 to $3.50; Sandwiches/salads $6 to $7.75
Contact: (818) 434-3278; email: email@example.com; Twitter: @cleanstreetfood; Facebook: facebook.com/cleanstreetfoodtruck