Always on the lookout for take-out places that I hadn’t thought of, food trucks came to my mind. I still see them here and there, but has their business model changed during the pandemic? Most don’t have seats to face anyway, but have queues which can be quite long. I was curious to see how they adjusted.
It turns out that food trucks are trying to do business as usual, going to places that will welcome them and sometimes dealing with smaller crowds than normal. They need support, just like restaurants, and are required to take the same precautions with food preparation as their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
In my research, I came across Sweet Plantain Grill. This truck, or mobile food trailer as it is in this case, sometimes appears in different places, according to social media. They also have a permanent lot that they park on near Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville. And this truck has a COVID plan.
Cuban cuisine, Latin-inspired bowls
First of all, the truck focuses on Cuban food. The menu lists a range of items from Latin-inspired rice bowls, sandwiches, tacos and arepas along with a few small appetizers (labeled “treasures”).
Prices range from $ 9 to $ 14 per item for entrees with the treasures resting at $ 5. As the treasures could be ordered as an accompaniment to a main course, I stayed with the main course.
After many back and forth I landed on the order of an el Cubano sandwich ($ 14) and a loaded arepa ($ 10). The Cubano is a bit more food compared to the arepa. This pressed sandwich is topped with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. It comes with an option of a few sides, and I grabbed the yuca fries and the plantain chips.
The arepa, a handmade cornmeal cake, was divided and filled with pork, lettuce, pico, melted cheese and cilantro aioli with plantain chips on the side. It was delicious and worth every $ 10 piece.
A tight operation
Everything held up exceptionally well on the way back. One complaint I have had in the past is that food from catering trucks is designed to be consumed immediately on the spot. Carrying food any distance on a paper plate wrapped in foil can get … interesting. But Sweet Plantain’s food was wrapped and wrapped just like any full-fledged restaurant would. So when you get away from the food truck, rest assured, the larva will make the return trip intact.
However, what really sold me was the effort they put into their pickup process. While the truck still accepts walk-in customers, they also offer the option to call your orders.
This is exactly what I did, and picking up is a snap. There is a large gravel lot where trucks park where customers can spread out when there is a queue. Or, you can wait in your car until a line break occurs. They also offer contactless payment options, so you don’t even have to hand over your card if you don’t want to. Once you’ve checked in and paid, your bag is placed on the counter, you pick it up and off you go.
The staff are small in the food trucks and adding the extra work of answering the phone is, I’m sure, a juggling game. The pleasant process and the helpful, friendly voice on the phone when I called make Sweet Plantain Grill stand out. They are a must have for those looking for contactless food pickup.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
Or: Grilled sweet plantains
To order online: sweetplantaingrill.com
Drinks Notes:No drink noted when ordering.
Contactless withdrawal available?Yes.
Matthew DeRobertis is a chef, writer and father of a child who loves food more than his dog. Contact him at [email protected]