Chow Bella

Jamburritos, Short Leash: Gluten-Free on Wheels

I'm a longtime food truck fan, from way before food trucks were cool. During college in Hawaii, I regularly ate out of trucks parked on the Manoa campus. I ordered what Hawaiians call "plate lunches": an entrée served with two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. It sounds starch-crazy to non-Islanders, but to me, it's perfect. If you've never had a plate lunch, get in line at the Aloha Kitchen booth at the March 8 and 9 Arizona Aloha Festival at Tempe Beach Park. You won't be sorry.

In Hawaii (before I was diagnosed with celiac disease), I would order a breaded pork cutlet or breaded fried shrimp and sit on the grass with my friends and munch away before heading to class. Breaded, deep-fried choices were the food-truck staple at the time, so once gluten-free, I figured I was aced out of that form of food delivery.

But recently, I have had a couple of food-truck gluten-free success stories.

See also: 24 Carrots Makes the Move to Tempe, Serves Healthy Fare (Including Gluten-Free)

First, in January, while attending the WordCamp Phoenix 2014 in Chandler, I trooped outside to the line of food trucks with other attendees. I walked past those doling out burgers, burritos, and barbecue sandwiches.

And I found a Cajun gem, Jamburritos Cajun Grille - Express. When I asked about gluten-free options, they quickly answered that they could make for me a vegetarian bowl. To my delight, the hush puppies were gluten-free, too.

The Veggie Jambalaya Bowl included Creole cabbage served over a bed of red beans and rice and topped with black bean salsa and shredded lettuce. It took me back to the French Quarter, with wonderful Louisiana spices and textures.

A big thank you to Jamburritos for understanding and offering an option for those of who can't eat flour tortillas.

Another thanks goes out to Short Leash.

A few weeks later, I found myself roaming the food truck area at the Willo Historic Home Tour and Street Fair.

Once again, I thought I probably was out of luck. Then, I saw the note on the top of Short Leash's chalkboard menu: Vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

I figured they would just offer me the dog without the bun, but nooooo. They offered me two dogs, chopped in a bowl, with any of the toppings available. Good doggy.

I had the regular dogs, with chipotle cream cheese, ketchup, and relish, which may sound like a ridiculous combination, but it was a perfect blend of sweet and hot and creamy and crunchy.

It's so gratifying to find chefs, especially mobile ones, who care enough to provide food for people with food allergies.

In the future, I'll be watching for the next great taste to come rolling down the road.

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Judith Nichols