Last Thursday, I had a rough morning at work. Totally swamped, and saddled with an all-morning training meeting, by the time I came up for air at 12:15 I knew there was only one lunch option that could turn this frown of a day upside down. That’s right, it was time for another installment of Food Truck Foodie. My overflowing inbox would just have to wait another hour!
I stepped outside to a perfect sunny day. Ah, now that’s more like it!
Already feeling like a new woman, I made my way down Marquette Avenue to check out my food truck options. All of my familiar favorites were out, but I knew today was time for something new. As soon as I saw the menu at Brava on wheels, I was convinced. Simple, meat-heavy (I do love my proteins), and reasonably priced.
I got in line and waited about five minutes. And then one of the people in line in front of me went up to collect their order and I realized that I had been standing in the wrong line. D’oh! Rookie mistake. Blood sugar now plummeting dangerously low, I meekly made my way to the back of the other line to wait another ten minutes to order.
I knew I was feeling in the mood for barbacoa, and when I caught a glimpse of one of the pretzel roll sandwiches my mind was easily made up. I placed my order for the Barbacoa Short Rib Sandwich, ($8, no additional tax), and received my order “number”: a New Hampshire card. Gotta love the ingenuity of these food trucks. Grabbing a small sauce cup to sample the jalapeno (“spicy”) and chile (“hot”) sauces, I once again joined the pack waiting for their orders off to the left of the window.
I was surprised to see a few of the folks who had been in front of me when I initially got into the wrong line still there waiting for their food. The mood was a bit restless, and I overheard a few grumbles from hungry patrons wondering exactly how long it takes to assemble a sandwich. Uh oh, my rumbling stomach and I might be in for a long wait!
The orders came out in spurts of five or ten at a time, and then a while of no action. My own sandwich came out fifteen minutes after I’d placed my order, just in the nick of time for this hungry gal! I had already mapped out my escape route, and dashed across the street to the crystal court in the IDS building.
I don’t know why I often forget about this beautiful indoor courtyard when I’m looking for a spot to enjoy my food truck lunches. Although it seems a shame to sit inside on a gorgeous summer day, the crystal court is flooded with natural light and bustling with activity. The ample bench seating around the water fountain doesn’t hurt either.
Anyway, enough about the setting, lets talk about the food!
My $8 order included two barbacoa sliders on pretzel buns as well as a side of simple Ruffles-esque potato chips.
My first impression was that the sandwiches were put together sloppily. All of the ingredients were overflowing from the buns, and seemed to be placed carelessly, with all of the greens lumped on one side of the sandwich and fried onions hanging out the other side, not to mention the slice of pepperjack hanging precariously off the side. I used my fork to even things out a little and then dug in.
The barbacoa short ribs were soft and well-seasoned with a sweet barbecue, complemented nicely by the nice crunch of fresh, earthy green peppers and greens. The fried onions were a “meh” addition, not adding much for flavor or texture in my opinion. Pepperjack cheese was a great choice for this sandwich, bringing in more of the chili heat. I dipped each bite in my jalapeno and chile sauces to bring even more flavor. The pretzel bun was perfect: soft, not too chewy, but durable to hold everything together beautifully. I am a sucker for a well-executed pretzel bun.
Although the chips were obviously nothing original, dipping them in the sauces gave me an opportunity to really taste the jalapeno and chili sauces. The chili was like a chunky, sweeter sriracha. While it was hot, I didn’t think it was hot as the label indicated. I didn’t break a sweat, if that’s any indication. The green jalapeno tasted fresh and smooth, a great easy-to-take heat that definitely made the standard potato chips taste a whole lot more special.
Despite my raging hunger, I was completely filled up when I finished. The portion was generous, and for a really reasonable price. If they can work out the inexplicably slow service and sloppy presentation, I’d say that this is a meal that I’ll happily put on repeat in my lunch rotation.
The employees seemed busy, but the food was coming out very slowly. A fifteen minute wait is hard to stomach when you’ve already waited ten to order!
Standard to-go look, but the sandwiches seemed thrown together sloppily and required a bit of re-assembly.
Great! The savory sweet barbacoa was complemented so nicely by the crunchy peppers and soft pretzel bun.
Value for Dollars
For $9 after tipping, I was happy to receive generous portions as well as an unexpected side of chips.
Overall Food Truck Experience
It’s a mixed bag; I’m hoping Brava can up the ante on service and presentation. If so, they might be able to live up to their name.
But don’t take my word for it…
Brava on Wheels
Brava on Twitter
Brava on Yelp