The cheerfully painted orange and red YummyTown Food Truck sits in the gravel parking lot at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail with co-owner Joelle Riddle's monster truck equivalent of a fat tire mountain bike chained to its right side.
"That's my ride," she chirps with a smile, passing me a paper plate filled with hummus, currant mint chutney, crispy garbanzo beans and pita bread through the window.
"We're big mountain bikers," she adds, indicating her partner Max Schön, who stands beside her, manning the rotisserie, grill and flat-top sandwiched inside the gleaming metal kitchen.
"It's one of the reasons we moved to Moab, and then back to Santa Fe. We can't get enough of the outdoors."
The appetizer portion of hummus she serves ($4.95) comes topped with sheep's milk feta and za'atar seasoning, a sumac and sesame seed concoction with an earthy, fragrant kick. For a few dollars more, Riddle recommends topping it with an organic fried egg, but I demur in favor of the lamb kofta as a follow up. The hummus is creamy and smooth, made with Soom tahini, from a women's collective based out of Philadelphia. It makes a perfect counterpart to the sweet, minty chutney and crunchy chickpeas on top.
While YummyTown's muse is Mediterranean cuisine, it only serves as a conduit for Schön and Riddle to deliver tender, well-cooked meats and seasonal produce topped with fresh herbs and flavorful spices in the most effective way possible. They've worked both sides of the service industry, with Schön paying his back of the house dues in restaurants across San Francisco, including a tenure at Michael Mina, home of the celebrity chef's notoriously detail oriented kitchen. Riddle worked as the front of house manager and supervisor in restaurants across Durango, Colorado, and Santa Fe, notably at Paper Dosa. After a short stint in the City Different, however, the two moved to Moab to pursue a lifestyle of rock-climbing and mountain biking, but Santa Fe has a way of pulling people back in.
And though YummyTown officially began in Utah a year ago, it found a more welcoming reception in our foodie haven, where it opened its doors in mid-August to a well-heeled clientele more open to eating spicy meats out of edible bread plates.
"Moab gets a lot of visitors because of the national parks, but the local population is really small, and it's not as foodie-forward as Santa Fe," Riddle says.
Organic, free-range lamb, beef and pork are at the heart of the menu of classic Mediterranean staples, though vegetarians shouldn't miss the falafel ($9.95-$11.95), which is fried to a delightful crispiness on the outside yet moist and chewable within. Everything else—with the exception of a za'atar spiced burger served with earthy, urfa chile aioli and spicy harissa ($9.95-$11.95)—is available served on a pita for $10.95 or on a bed of either saffron rice or fresh greens for $12.95.
For carnivores, there is the lamb kofta, pungent and spicy with Merguez seasonings and harissa, served with cooling tzatziki and feta. It made up the bulk of the lunch I ate at a shady picnic table beside the truck. Sourced locally from New Mexico, the kofta comes rolled up almost like a skinless sausage, dripping with harissa and olive oil, wrapped in a pita and bed of satisfyingly crunchy romaine. There is also a chicken kebab with currant mint chutney for dipping, and tender, juicy pork gyro made from in-house rotisserie that is rubbed with spicy red chile before being slow roasted for over half a day.
Nearly everything is made inside the tiny 26-foot-long truck, although their pita is sourced from Aroma's Hamati Bakery in San Francisco, operated by one of the Bay Area's most beloved former pizza chefs, Sammy Mizirawi. The pitas in question are fluffy, organically shaped puffs of bread, with thick walls more reminiscent of the style from Israel than the thinner-walled counterparts preferred by the Lebanese. It's baked in small ovens, cultured from a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough. No stabilizers or conditioners are used. The results are soft and fresh, particularly pleasing when served stuffed with thinly sliced pork and crunchy veggies and slathered in tzatziki sauce.
For liquid refreshment, sample a shrub ($3.95), a drink of fruit, vinegar and sugar topped with fizzy water. The origins of the drink go back centuries to Persia, where it served both as a means of preserving fruits in the absence of refrigeration, and as a medicinal cordial. Schön and Riddle's version provides notes of ripe, sweet fruit underscored by a slight vinegary tang. They use organic cane sugar and a rotating range of flavors such as peach and basil or honeydew and mint. It's a delightful counterpart to the dense and luscious baklava ice cream sandwich ($4.95), which is all at once delicately flakey and gooey with vanilla ice cream, honey and the crisp bite of walnuts and pistachios and a little fruity herbal kick courtesy of orange lavender syrup drizzled throughout. It's decadent, but not overly so—and I leave satisfied but not stuffed, grooving with energy.
YummyTown Food Truck
502 Old Santa Fe Trail, 970-799-3720
Usually 11 am-4 pm Monday-Friday; check yummytownfoodtruck.com for variations in hours