I want to offer a big thank you to Arturo and Chef Maria for welcoming me to their food truck and filling my belly full of delicious vegan tacos. And though the meal and drink were provided to me free of charge, my feedback about the food and experience is my honest opinion!
Though Napa Valley has had food trucks parked throughout the city for years, the concept of creating a permanent Food Corral was something new in 2016. Arturo Bibiano, founder & owner of Platanito Pupusas, was the first to be approached by The Gasser Foundation about making this idea into a reality. And though there are risks involved in any new business venture, Arturo was excited by the opportunity of bringing his latin cuisine food truck to the South Napa Century Center full time. Because the Corral offered him one convenient location and it was “easier than fighting for a spot” were two reasons he jumped at the chance to give this a try. He admits that the first year was a bit slow as word got out about the Corral but it has now become a huge success! But success hasn’t come easy for this family operated mobile restaurant. You will find Arturo and his Mom, Chef Maria Trujillo, staffing the food truck 7 days a week as well as providing catering services for off-site events. You may even run into his aunt or brother who are always happy to lend a helping hand!
Arturo’s decision to start his food truck began with the desire to provide his family with a “sense of security” by providing people with delicious food that they love. It was natural to team up with his Mom who has always had a passion for cooking. Through a good friend, she mastered the art of Salvadoran cuisine and then added a touch of Mexican spices to add her own unique style to tacos and pupusas. There were no restaurants or food trucks that offered pupusas anywhere in the Valley so this partnership not only feeds Maria’s “love of the kitchen” but also fills a latin cuisine niche that was missing! Another goal of Arturo’s was to offer a Farm to Table experience in the Century Center Food Corral. He works closely with the Rancho Gordo farm in Sonoma County and seasonally with the farmers that sell their produce at the Napa Farmers Market.
Arturo also began to notice food trend changes as the demand for healthier plant based options and vegan food continue to ramp up globally, throughout the Bay Area and, finally, here too in Napa Valley. And just as he found that he could fulfill a need for Salvadoran food he also knew by offering vegan options, he could introduce something else to the food truck scene that no one else offered. Using jackfruit, the hugely popular meat alternative, Maria has created two options – jackfruit tacos and jackfruit pupusas. The tacos begin with a delicious, handmade masa tortilla that tastes like no tortilla I have every eaten. I could sit down and just eat plain tortillas – they are that delicious. She teams the grilled jackfruit with onion, cilantro and slightly spicy jalapeno salsa to make the most exquisite tacos. Simple, healthy and delicious! The pupusa is a thick grilled corn tortilla stuffed with jackfruit accompanied by curtido, a spicy cabbage slaw, and salsa. If you are a fan of beans, just ask for the vegan bean pupusa and she will use lard free beans! According to Maria most who visit are locals and they have many repeat customers. Some have even told her they are “customers forever”. The jackfruit is so popular that Arturo & Maria are planning on adding a housemade vegan cheese to the menu within the next 3 to 6 months. Common in Mexico, Maria also creates two aqua frescas flavors. Meaning cool waters, it is a sweet combination of water, fruit & veggies made without added sugar! I loved the strawberry, carrot and mint combo and plan to try the pineapple, celery & cactus blend next visit!
Now that Spring is providing us with its warm days and mild evenings, Platanito Pupusas is the perfect place to grab a unique & delicious vegan meal. With the Cinemark Theater located right next door, the Food Corral is a lovely spot to enjoy a movie and dinner al fresco. Check Platanito Pupusas’ Facebook page for hours, prices, photos and updates! Arturo is planning on adding a new “wrap” to the food truck; please leave a comment to let me know what you think of their new look! So let’s explore the world together and as always…eat, drink & be vegan!