Avoiding the tricky logistics of food hot-air balloons and the messy splatter of foodapults, food trucks add the thrill of the hunt to a mundane lunch hour. Track down nomadic foodstuffs with today’s Groupon: for $5, you get $10 worth of Vietnamese fare from Mandoline Grill. The food truck announces its route and schedule every Sunday evening on its website and posts up-to-the-minute location updates via Facebook and Twitter.
After studying the art of Vietnamese cooking in her mother's kitchen in Honolulu, Mandoline Grill's owner and grillologist Mong Skillman takes her menu of native gourmet dishes on the road to serve the greater Los Angeles area, including Orange County, Echo Park, and Santa Monica. Like bowls full of Halloween candy, all dishes can be flavored with a delectable protein—such as pork, beef, barbecue chicken, and tofu—and are completely free of MSG. Tacos served on corn tortillas ($6, or $7 for beef) pair well with a Vietnamese iced coffee ($2.50), and the Hawaiian barbecue bánh mì ($6) slides in on a 12-inch french baguette with cucumber slices, pickled carrots, cilantro, and jalapeños. The Vietnamese nachos ($5), meanwhile, choreograph an elaborate musical number of mint, scallion, synchronized swimmers, and jalapeños atop crispy corn-tortilla chips. Vegans can grab the back hips of their coworker conga line and order rice vermicelli noodles ($6, or $7 for beef), which come chaperoned by crushed peanuts, shallots, cucumbers, and mixed greens.