Much like the set of conditions when caring for a mogwai, the menu at Bang Bite—a bright, orange food truck parked near the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail—comes with its own set of instructions. They range from "Don't act your age" to "Healthy food may be good for the conscience, but our food tastes a hell of a lot better."
The man behind the mantras is owner Enrique Guerrero, whose résumé reads like a blueprint for foodie superstardom—ripe with stints everywhere, from NorCal's The French Laundry to NYC's Le Cirque, before arriving in Santa Fe.
It was in the mid-2000s that Guerrero cemented his reputation in the local culinary scene as chef at fabled La Mancha inside the Galisteo Inn. "For four years, I didn't have a life," he tells SFR in a matter-of-fact way. His apron hung, Guerrero made a promise to himself to never return to fine dining again. "Then I got bored," he says. "Really bored."
Mangiamo Pronto! sprung from that boredom, and after he was done with that venture, Guerrero retired. Again.
"My wife said, 'You need to do something' and I answered, 'Yes, master,'" he says, making a whip-snapping sound. After toying with names like "A Kick in the Teeth" and "Plan B Foods," that something ended up being Bang Bite, Guerrero's own filling station that delivers "no gas, only fuel."
Burger options abound—from the bunless "Stripper Burger" ($7.95) to the sharp cheddar and maple bacon-topped "Ooh, Papi!" ($8.50) and on a recent visit, a tacos al pastor-style pork burger complete with grilled pineapple ($9.25).
“I don’t wanna be cocky, but I think mine are better,” he says, signaling towards Old Santa Fe Trail and its venerable Santa Fe Bite. “Competition is good. We try to offer something that they don’t have; we don’t even have a green chile cheeseburger,” he continues. “I don’t want to offend nobody, but every restaurant on this street has a green chile cheeseburger. We decided to have something different, the number two, the Bite burger.” The signature hamburger’s secret he says, is a mix of jalapeño, poblano, green chile, serrano and chipotle peppers blended right in the meat. “ That's the bite.”
Like two piggies that eagerly went to market, my companion and I go whole hog and order several options from the Twilight Zone-ish "other goodies" realm.
The $7.95 chicken breast with avocado, lettuce, tomato and garlic alioli cobb sammie? Yep. How's about the six buck "Grilled cheese thing #3," a grilled, blue cheese, onion and bacon sandwich? Bring it on, son.
"Everything I cook is either immoral, illegal, or will make you fat," Guerrero discloses. Throwing all caution (as well as our cholesterol level) to the wind, we round up the trifecta with the "Lord Pork Sammie." The grand dame of the menu includes a heaping portion of pulled pork, pork belly, Virginia ham, Jack cheese and chipotle alioli on a sensible torta bun ($9.95).
"I grew up on a ranch; everything is better with lard," Guerrero says, proudly rubbing his midsection. "Who needs a six-pack? I've got a couple of Millers in here." He then shares his desire to insure his gut, "You know, like that girl with the big booty."
Along with a good laugh, a mélange of sides arrives with our bounty: Bang Bite fries, turkey chili and a delightful black bean and posole salad. We chow down with gusto.
As for the entrées, they deliver on Enrique from the [Butcher] Block's promise of "healthy, clean, local and tasty" food. I'm not sure how a beastly, two-handed mound of sauce-covered pork between two slices of bread constitutes healthy, but when food this good is at stake, there's no time for arguing.
"This is, like, pig eight ways," my lunch partner, a self-proclaimed "gangster" (hard R) says. "The chipotle is spot on. It's not like your standard chipotle, when you're, like, 'Come on!'" she continues, eating voraciously and throwing gang signs.
Along with theme days, like Taco Fridays, Guerrero has big plans for his food truck, including an upcoming, semi-permanent weekend stint outside Santa Fe Spirits' downtown tasting room.
"Look at me, I'm having fun right now," Guerrero boasts of his latest cookery comeback.
Our feast concludes with a seam-ripping pair of "dream bars" a heavenly concoction that is named, perhaps, after the intense desire to nap after eating at the lonchera.
"It's kind of, like, fat free," Guerrero jokes. "It has butter, chocolate, condensed milk, coconut, pecans and walnuts—see, it's healthy!"
Corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old SF Trail
Open Monday-Friday, 11 am-6 pm