Sometimes only a restaurant on wheels can satisfy the hunger for authentic, high quality food. The Akron Beacon Journal conducted a week-long online survey in August to find the most popular food trucks among readers in Summit County. As soon as the results are in, we went behind the service windows of your top food trucks to see what makes them stand out from the rest. Here’s what the owners had to say.
1. Fabi’s taco truck
Fabian Leon packed all of his beans in his taco truck. At least that’s how he describes it.
The journey began when his brother Fernando Leon had to close the dining room of his family-run restaurant Uncle Tito’s Mexican Grill in March 2020. As the pandemic progressed, it became more and more difficult for Fabian to take care of himself. His solution was what he called a leap of faith: Fabi’s Taco Truck.
Although the Leon brothers grew up in Springfield, their family hails from Jesús María in Jalisco, Mexico, a town known for its tequila. When he decided to start a food truck, Fabian knew that he wanted to integrate his family’s agave ranch in Jesús María into his new business. Neo Graphics in Akron made that dream come true, and now their customers visit the homestead every time they look at the exterior of the truck.
“What we have in our lives is our origins, our heritage, and we try to give something back to our friends,” said Fabian.
A picture of the ranch isn’t the only part of Fabian’s legacy that he shares with his customers. His street tacos, the bestseller on the menu, are made like in Mexico. The truck’s other Mexican fare includes nachos, quesadillas, traditional tacos, and a specialty salsa his mother has made for 30 years. Although he has a full-time employee to help him prepare, there is no pre-cooked meat on the menu.
Fabi’s Taco Truck drives to McArthur’s Brew House in Cuyahoga Falls and various neighborhoods across Summit County on Thursdays from 5pm to 9pm during the week. With every turn of the ignition key, Fabian says, he learns more about the business and the truck.
“You have to go out and make an effort to get to the next day because nobody will give you more the next day,” said Fabian.
Surname: Fabi’s taco truck
How to find it: The truck’s weekly schedule will be published on its Facebook page
2. The Funky Truckeria
Have you seen a brightly colored truck with images of a giant sombrero-wearing skeleton staring longingly at a taco? If so, you’ve taken a look at one of The Funky Truckeria’s two food trucks.
Every funky truck has lively tacos, including Jamaican jerk chicken, buffalo cauliflower, and – the favorite of co-owners Steve Sabo and Juan Gonzalez – Korean belly pork. Each of the proteins on the menu is cooked differently, but the pork belly is vacuum sealed, deep-fried, and sautéed in marinade for 14 hours before serving.
The el Diablo taco are made for those who enjoy the hottest hot dishes. For the past six years, The Funky Truckeria on Cinco De Mayo has hosted a food challenge that requires participants to have five El Diablo tacos ready in 15 minutes without drinking, getting sick, or leaving the table. So far, only three people have mastered the challenge.
“This spice is not for the faint of heart,” said Sabo. “I can’t even do it; I take a bite and it makes me cry. “
But how did The Funky Truckeria come about? Let’s go back to 2010 in Cuyahoga Falls when Sabo and Gonzalez worked on various trucks and businesses – Sabo with The Orange Trük and Gonzales with Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food.
They met up so Sabo, who was previously a contractor, could answer some questions Gonzalez had about building food trucks, and the two have been friends ever since. After all, their separate businesses were so busy that they both needed a different kitchen. So they joined forces to found The Funky Truckeria and opened their stationary location in Norton in 2015.
The funky, sombrero-wearing skeleton on the trucks was created by Neil W. Drabinski, the owner of I at NWD in Cuyahoga Falls. According to Sabo, the trucks’ logo and packaging are more than just sugar skulls and skeletons; they represent the legacy of the day of the dead.
“It’s a real thing. It’s not just, ‘Let’s get drunk and be Mexicans for a day,’ ”Sabo said. “The idea behind this is to honor those you know in your life who have passed away, and this is a great way for us to do the same. It really has a different meaning than a sugar skull. “
Currently, The Funky Truckeria is only hosting private events due to the pandemic, but the owners look forward to attending public events in the future.
Surname: The Funky Truckeria
Hours: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Tuesday-Saturday (Norton Restaurant)
How to find it: Public events are published on the truck’s Facebook page and in the Street Food Finder
3. Johnny Lόtes Latin Street Corn
Sweet corn, mayonnaise, cotija cheese and crushed chilies. On their own, they’re humble and ordinary, but when you mix them together, you get an Elόte from Johnny Lόtes Latin Street Corn.
In the food industry, the elόte is often regulated on the status of a side dish. Co-owners John Paul Pascher and Erik Schorr hope to change this trend by making Eltes the star of their menu.
Pascher and Schorr became quick friends in 2019 and were determined to find a way to spend time together and make money instead of spending it. They pondered various foods to sell until Schorr suggested Buttercorn, which resurfaced Pascher’s memory of eating Eltes during his stay in Latin America. In the same year, they set out to sell Latin American street corn.
“The whole reason we didn’t start a brick and mortar store is this: why wait for people to come to us?” Said Pascher. “Let’s go to the people.”
It wasn’t just traditional elites that brought them to the people. They also have items in the form of bowls, nachos, and platters. Customers can supplement their elite with bacon and sour cream for an additional charge.
Each menu item is prepared with the same sweet corn that is sourced from Florida and Georgia from May to mid-July and Ohio from mid-July to October.
“Let’s take one of the best things America has to offer – no other sweet corn in the world can compare to American sweet corn – and a recipe from Latin America and see what we can do with it,” said Pascher. “And here we are.”
Johnny Lόtes Latin Street Corn can be found at Akron RubberDucks home games, in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, the Barberton Farmers Market Tuesdays from 2pm to 7pm, and at various other Summit County events.
Surname: Johnny Lόtes Latin Street Corn
How to find it: The truck’s weekly schedule and daily updates will be published on its Facebook page
4. Eddie’s famous cheese steaks
To make sure we are all on the same page, please let us know the owner’s name is Ed Sutter and not Eddie.
Now that that’s done, we can take a look at how Eddie’s Famous Cheesesteaks came about.
The Eddies brand began in 1992 with Eddie’s Pizzeria, which included the cheesesteak that Eddies is known for today on its menu. Sutter often attended cheesesteak festivals, so in 2008, just at the beginning of the spring break, he traveled to Panama City, Florida to sell his cheesesteaks and was overwhelmed by the demand. After four years of traveling between Akron and Panama City, Sutter gave the cheesesteaks a permanent home in Akron through Eddie’s Famous Cheesesteaks.
That year, Sutter swapped his 9-foot trailer for a 22-foot food truck with a 10-foot hood and triple fryer. The new vehicle was unveiled to the public at the PorchRokr Music and Art Festival in Highland Square in August.
The main courses on the new truck’s menu are cheesesteak, chicken and fries, as well as toppings and sauces such as homemade spicy giardiniera and homemade flavored ketchups.
Curious foodies can also check out the stationary location in downtown Akron, which offers additional dishes not available on the food truck, such as gyros and Italian sausages.
Surname: Eddie’s famous cheese steaks
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday (Akron site)
Website:https: // eddies Famouscheesesteaks.com/pages/eddies-mobile-unit
How to find it: Visit the truck’s Facebook page and other social media for event information
5. Three-way tie
Swenson’s food truck
Many know the story of how Wesley T. “Pop” Swenson and his burger-filled station wagon became a staple in Summit County, but few know that much about the restaurant’s food trucks.
The company launched its first food truck for Northeast Ohio in 2013 and a second for Columbus in 2018. In contrast to most food trucks, both are equipped with full kitchen equipment to ensure the same quality of stationary and mobile kitchen. The truck’s top-selling items are the Galley Boy and the Double Cheeseburg, according to Kevin Howley, Senior Director of Marketing.
To book a Swensons Food Truck, visit the Food Truck page on their website.
Wholly Frijoles Mexican street food
Next up is Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food owned by Juan Gonzalez (yes, the same Juan from The Funky Truckeria), Jesus Reyes, and Alejo Gutierrez.
Her truck’s bestsellers are nachos and burritos, possibly because the chefs marinate the meat for 48 hours and cut it themselves in their brick-and-mortar store on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
The food truck’s schedule is published weekly on its Facebook page.
El Malecon is owned by Janire Mendez and is located outside of its future stationary location at 813 Elma St. in Akron. After opening the North Hill restaurant, Mendez plans to keep the food truck and possibly acquire another one for events and marketing in the future.
The best-selling dish is the California burrito, which is filled with grilled chicken, chorizo, steak, rice, beans, lettuce, guacamole, pico, sour cream, grated cheese and topped with queso dip and hot sauce with french fries on the side.
If you don’t see the truck on Elma Street, check out its Facebook page to find out where it is.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.