TLO Food Truck Review: Maria’s Food Truck
9:12 AM EDT on June 27, 2017
It’s easy to give out Twitter accolades and Instagram bravos to the same series of easy-to-reach food trucks that are all located in the same oil-stained spots day after day and are written about in the same alt-weeklies week after week, offering a false sense of culinary security that allows would-be foodies to tell themselves they are stepping outside their comfort zones when, in reality, they’re just biding their time in the hipster version of a mall food court.
The best meals on wheels in Oklahoma City, the ones that create from the heart and, most importantly, the soul, are usually the ones that you’d never even notice without looking and looking hard. They are the ones that you quickly drive by in a shady neighborhood or the ones that may be in need of some bodywork and a paint job; the ones where English might be a second (or third) language or the ones that are only captured out of the corner of your eye for only a brief moment like a vision from Santa Maria herself.
That’s how it was with Maria’s Food Truck. Heading down N.W. 10th to make it to an Indian Clinic appointment on time, there she was, hidden back alongside a convenience store, the brightly colored yellow, blue and red wagon proudly proclaiming “Venezuelan & Colombian Food.” An obscure enough localized two-fer to be sure, a unique entry in the food truck scene with cuisine that I have had yet to see—or taste—anywhere else in town. And there it was, in my rearview mirror, so close, yet so far away.
After a few days of wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’, I eventually made it back down to 3637 N.W. 10th last Friday night as the sun was setting over the Big Town. It was actually quite the picturesque moment, the natural red spotlight, the welcomed cool breeze and the penetrating smell of beef sizzling, dutifully escaping out of the slim windows of the truck, pulling an advertising job better than any billboard could ever muster.
Maria’s, so full of grace…
The no-frills menu was everything that makes dining at food trucks the God-given gift it really should be, filled with precise creations I’ve never heard of, food I’ve only read about, and new takes on popular favorites that you fall in love with before even taking a bite out of; it was a real task to simplify it down to a few representative basics, especially when absolute endearments like arepas and empanadas, as well as Venezuelan variations of hot dogs and hamburgers are on full display.
Que demonios, let’s just get them all…sound good?
The first to hit the folding table, where I sat underneath the serving window, was the Venezuelan hot dog ($4.00). Besides the traditional fresh bun and grilled hot dog, natch, these ladies loaded this classic down with ham, egg, corn, various cheeses and, the secret weapon, hash browns. You’d think that, with all those desayuno accoutrements and all, it would have a bit of a breakfast feel to it, but somehow it manages to transcend that into this beautifully lard-laden palette of extreme flavors that led me to pause for the cause with each bite, slowly savoring each element in a way I never had before. I honestly don’t think I can go back to those dirty imperialist mustard-coated American wieners ever again after having this socialized take.
With a short breather and a power-flush of two bottled waters, my orders of a Reyna Pepiada Arepa ($5.00) and a couple of Pabellón Empanadas ($2.75) were delicately air-dropped to me below. With its impressive mixture of shredded chicken, soft potato and fresh avocado taking on a very creamy consistency and packed tightly into a deep-fried corn patty, the Reyna Pepiada Arepa was more like an alternate universes’ belief of what a chicken salad sandwich should be and I absolutely adored them for it, craving a second helping as soon at that one was gone—especially when liberally doused with their mysteriously addictive house-made truck-made rosa sauce.
Additionally, housed in its own gorgeously golden corn-based encasement, the Pabellón Empanada replaces the typical fruit fillings we’ve come to know with a most welcomed heaping handful of shredded beef and black beans, along with some cheese, and then deep-fries that gal into a glistening meat pie of tongue-searing delights, each immediately impetuous bite spring-loaded with a preamble of hot grease for your troubles. And what trouble it is!
With just enough room left to give, the outright revolutionary revelation that is the Venezuelan Hamburger ($7.50) is, within only a few bites, already an outright contender for one of the best burgers in Oklahoma City. Like a roadside diner served between two fresh buns, this bestia de carne takes a thick beef patty and then sexually splays bacon, eggs, and fried hashbrowns, as well as cheese and fixings, into a half-pound symbol of Latin American ingenuity and absolute passion for taking something and making it all their own.
Ave Maria and her Food Truck, appearing like a vision from the heavens to me on that random day. Sure, they might not make the cover of a free local food rag and they probably won’t win any reader’s choice awards, but to those that get on up and get on out to patronize Maria’s will understand why it doesn’t need such gimmicks; with a menu that is an immaculate collection of South American aestheticisms that would be an outright transgression to miss, the only accolades it truly needs is your feet standing in line and your hands on that wallet. ¡Cómpralo ya!
God love a Valero parking lot. Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.