Food Truck Fiesta at Allen Theatres is a hit with locals. Join us as we explore the vast array of cuisine and get tips from the chefs on how to make your favorite dishes at home.
Stop by the Allen Theatres Telshor 12 Cinema on the first Wednesday of every month and the parking lot is bound to be packed with people enjoying the cool evening air, good company, and the aromas and flavors of some of the best food in town.
“We always have a good crowd on the first Wednesday event,” says Janet Payne, owner of Green Chile Paddy Wagon and one of the founders of Food Truck Fiesta. “We have a partnership with Allen Theatres, so if you buy food from the trucks, you get a buy one get one free coupon for the movies and you can take your food into the movie theatre for the show.”
The popular event just celebrated its third birthday and it has gotten bigger and better over the years. A group of five trucks started the event and now there are regularly 10 trucks on site with varying cuisines for guests to choose from.
Las Crucen Ann Steinhoff says she comes out to every Food Truck Fiesta she can make it to. Some of her favorites include the Green Chile Paddy Wagon and Skewered, but she admits she’s yet to try anything she didn’t enjoy.
“I like the variety of food,” she says. “I enjoy snacking and trying different things and that’s what this is. This is exactly the type of event Las Cruces needs.”
Green Chile Paddy Wagon
One of Las Cruces’ longest-running food trucks, the Green Chile Paddy Wagon has been in operation since 2014 serving “fresh comfort food with a little New Mexico flair.” Chef Patrick Payne bases his menu on the philosophy that everything tastes better with bacon and green chile. It’s a concept that Las Crucens agree with—this year they were voted #1 food truck by Sun-News readers. Patrick and wife Janet are music-lovers and this not-to-be-missed truck can usually be found at live-music events and local festivals.
What to Try: Patrick makes a mean brisket and the Paddy Wagon’s brisket sandwich is a top-seller, along with their specialty grilled cheese sandwiches. For something completely new, try the popular New Mexico sandwich, a grilled cheese with a little bit of everything: bacon, salsa, and a green chile enchilada
Try it at Home: Use only the best when it comes to green chile. For Patrick and Janet, only certified Hatch green chile will do. Unless you’re planning to serve it in strips, chop up the bacon beforehand for optimal crispiness. And don’t be afraid to get creative; turns out bacon and green chile go with just about anything. The Paddy Wagon has even put the treats on bread pudding.
How to Find Them: facebook.com/thegreenchilepaddywagon
Got a yen for Asian food? Whether you’re craving Korean, Chinese, or Japanese, you’re bound to find something that looks delectable on the Ruby SoHo Food Truck menu.
Chef Ben Wood says the concept evolved from the positive reception he received when he offered Asian items through his popular 138 Food Truck.
“We were ready to make a change, so we just decided, let’s go all the way with it,” he says. With Ruby SoHo, Ben is also continuing the tradition he started with 138 of using fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch including broths and sauces.
What to Try: You can’t go wrong with the chicken teriyaki skewers, bulgolgi beef, or the potsticker dumplings. When temps start to drop, don’t miss out on Ben’s fantastic ramen.
Make it at Home: Asian food can be tricky, so Ben recommends getting a good cookbook and really researching the ingredients. “Getting the right ingredients makes all the difference in this type of cuisine,” he explains. “It can be hard to find ingredients locally, so sometimes we have to order online.” For the easiest and fluffiest rice, use a rice cooker. “It couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is push a button and it lets you know when it’s done.”
How to Find Them: facebook.com/RubySoHoFoodTruck
Chef James Kelsey has worked in kitchens all over the country, from Colorado to Kentucky to El Paso, cooking all types of fare. With Skewered, he hopes to introduce Las Crucens to new flavors and ingredient combinations that they won’t likely find elsewhere. “The skewer is the common theme that ties it all together, but it doesn’t limit me to one particular cuisine,” he explains. “We have Mexican, New Mexican, Asian, Caribbean—we’ve even done Italian skewers. Everything is made from scratch and by hand. We’re really trying to offer and maintain the quality of a brick-and-mortar restaurant in a food truck concept.”
What to Try: James says his menu is “fluid and flexible” and thus changes often, but his most popular items—lime beef, Moroccan beef, and Jamaican jerk chicken—are often on the lineup and most definitely worth a taste.
Make it at Home: When cooking on a skewer, the right cut of meat is key. James recommends chicken thighs over breasts, and usually opts for flank or short ribs for beef. Size matters too. Meat chunks should be uniform in size, so they all take the same amount of time to cook, as well as sized to cook at about the same rate as the vegetables. Hearty veggies—mushrooms, onions, peppers—will take some time to tenderize on the grill, but items like asparagus and cherry tomatoes will overcook quickly, so consider pairing with shrimp or pre-cooked ham. Bonus tip: for the most flavorful, moist meat, season with salt about an hour before cooking.
How to Find Them: facebook.com/skeweredfoodtruck
Classically trained chef Gabe Payan started using produce from his family’s three-acre farm in Mesquite to create Las Cruces’ first farm to table food truck. He now supplements his ingredients from 10 different farms in the area and locally owned businesses like Toucan Market. The menu is chocked full of fresh fixings includes sandwiches, tacos, and tostadas, with plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians. “When you’re eating with us you’re shopping local and you’re eating local,” he points out. “We’re trying to keep everything within the community.”
What to Try: Gabe’s best sellers are his green chile patty melt, a five-ounce certified Angus beef patty with grilled onions and cheese on Texas toast, and his veggie tacos, four soft corn tortillas stuffed with beans, grilled squash, bell peppers, lime salsa, and tomatillo salsa. Get the tacos while you can; they’re only on the menu when the veggies are fresh and in season.
Make it at Home: Farm to table is all about eating as fresh as possible. Gabe recommends shopping at the local farmers’ market and supplementing the produce from your own raised bed garden at home. Throw veggies on the grill to get a really nice char on them, Gabe says, adding, “I also tell people to use fresh herbs whenever possible. They really heighten the dish over regular old salt and pepper.”
How to Find Them: facebook.com/WannabeFarms
Ceara Angel and business partner John Lucero met working in kitchens around town. When they decided to venture out on their own, they quickly found their niche in the food truck market. “We personally don’t really eat hamburgers or fried foods, so we wanted to create a healthier option for people that eat like we do,” she explains. “We’re also advocates for the medical marijuana industry, so everything is named after a strain of marijuana—but none of our dishes actually have cannabis in it.” Since many medical marijuana users, like cancer patients, shouldn’t eat processed foods, Half Baked specializes in wholesome, homemade food. “Don’t be scared because we’re named after pot,” Ceara adds. “We just want to be part of the journey towards living a healthier lifestyle. Come see us! We’re very friendly.”
What to Try: Half Baked is known for their smoked pork, which is cooked 14 hours over Mesquite wood. The sandwich is slathered with homemade cherry BBQ sauce and topped with caramelized onions and bread and butter pickles. For something lighter, try the Gorilla Glue, smoked turkey breast, pesto, and Swiss cheese on ciabatta bread.
Make it at Home: Ceara says that eating healthy isn’t about dieting, it’s about making lifestyle changes. “Look at the ingredients,” she says. “The less processed it is and the less packaging you have to open, the better it is for you. It all comes down to knowing what you’re eating and putting in your body. And be sure to listen to what you’re body is telling you. For example, I’m not a vegetarian, but I know I feel better when I eat bigger portions of fruits and veggies in my meals.”
How to Find Them: facebook.com/goodfoodnm
Food Truck Fiesta
Food Truck Fiesta is held the first Wednesday of every month at Allen Theatres Telshor 12 Cinema from 5:00-8:30 pm. If you can’t make it out the first Wednesday, Food Truck Fiesta is also held every third Wednesday at various locations around town including parks and local businesses and churches. To see where they are planning to set up next, visit facebook.com/foodtruckfiestalc.