Sometimes, only a restaurant on wheels will satisfy that hunger for an authentic, quality meal. The Akron Beacon Journal conducted a weeklong online survey in August to find readers’ favorite food trucks based in Summit County. Once the results came in, we went behind the service windows of your top food trucks to see what makes them a step above the rest. Here’s what the owners had to say.
1. Fabi’s Taco Truck
Fabian Leon put all of his beans into his taco truck. At least, that’s how he describes it.
The journey began when his brother, Fernando Leon, had to shut down the dining room to his family-operated restaurant Uncle Tito’s Mexican Grill in March 2020. As the pandemic progressed, it became increasingly difficult for Fabian to provide for himself. His solution was what he described as a leap of faith: Fabi’s Taco Truck.
Although the Leon brothers grew up in Springfield, their family is from Jesús María in Jalisco, Mexico, a town known for its tequila. When he initially decided to start a food truck, Fabian knew he wanted to incorporate his family’s agave ranch in Jesús María into his new business. Neo Graphics in Akron made that dream a reality, and now his customers visit the homestead each time they gaze at the outside of the truck.
“What we have in our lives is where we’re from, our heritage, and we try to bring some of it back to our friends,” Fabian said.
An image of the ranch isn’t the only part of Fabian’s heritage that he shares with customers. His street tacos, the bestseller on the menu, are made like those found in Mexico. The truck’s other Mexican fare includes nachos, quesadillas, traditional tacos and a special salsa that his mother has made for 30 years. While he does have a full-time employee who assists him with prep work, no meats on the menu are precooked.
Fabi’s Taco Truck visits McArthur’s Brew House from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays in Cuyahoga Falls and various neighborhoods across Summit County throughout the week. According to Fabian, he learns more about the business and truck every time he turns its ignition key.
“You have to go out and you have to put in the effort to get to the next day, because nobody else will give you the next day,” Fabian said.
Name: Fabi’s Taco Truck
How to find it: The truck’s weekly schedule is posted on its Facebook page
2. The Funky Truckeria
Have you seen a colorful truck with illustrations of a giant sombrero-wearing skeleton gazing longingly at a taco? If so, you’ve gotten a peek at one of The Funky Truckeria’s two food trucks.
Within each funky truck are vibrant tacos, including Jamaican jerk chicken, buffalo cauliflower and — co-owners Steve Sabo and Juan Gonzalez’s favorite — Korean pork belly. Each of the proteins on the menu is cooked differently, but the pork belly is vacuum-sealed for 14 hours, deep fried and sautéed in marinade before serving.
The el diablo taco, are made for those who enjoy the hottest of hot foods. For the last six years on Cinco De Mayo, The Funky Truckeria has hosted a food challenge where contestants must finish five el diablo tacos within 15 minutes without drinking, getting sick or leaving the table. Only three people have completed the challenge so far.
“That spice is not for the faint of heart,” Sabo said. “I can’t even do it; I take one bite and it makes me want to cry.”
But how did The Funky Truckeria come to be? Let’s rewind to 2010 in Cuyahoga Falls, when Sabo and Gonzalez were working on separate trucks and businesses — Sabo with The Orange Trük and Gonzales with Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food.
They met so that Sabo, who was previously a contractor, could answer some questions Gonzalez had about building food trucks and the two have been friends since. Eventually, their separate businesses were so busy that they both needed another kitchen. So, they combined forces to create The Funky Truckeria and opened their brick-and-mortar location in Norton in 2015.
The funky, sombrero-wearing skeleton on the trucks was created by Neil W. Drabinski, owner of I am NWD in Cuyahoga Falls. According to Sabo, the logo and the trucks’ wrapping are more than just a sugar skull and skeleton; they represent the heritage of the Day of the Dead.
“It is a real thing. It’s not just ‘Let’s get drunk and be Mexican for a day,’ ” Sabo said. “The idea behind it is to honor those who you’ve known in your life that have passed on, and this is a good way for us to do the same thing. It truly has a meaning other than a sugar skull.”
Currently, The Funky Truckeria is only doing private events because of the pandemic, but the owners look forward to attending public events in the future.
Name: The Funky Truckeria
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday (Norton restaurant)
3. Johnny Lόte’s Latin Street Corn
Sweet corn, mayonnaise, cotija cheese and crushed chiles. Separately, they are unassuming and ordinary, but mix them together and you get an elόte from Johnny Lόte’s Latin Street Corn.
In the food industry, the elόte is often regulated to the status of side dish. Co-owners John Paul Pascher and Erik Schorr are hoping to change that trend by making elόtes the star of their menu.
Pascher and Schorr became fast friends in 2019 and were determined to find a way to spend time together and make money instead of spending it. They brainstormed various foods to sell until Schorr suggested buttered corn on the cob, which resurfaced Pascher’s memory of eating elόtes while living in Latin America. They hit the road selling Latin street corn that same year.
“The whole reason we didn’t start a brick-and-mortar is because: Why wait for people to come to us?” Pascher said. “Let’s go to the people.”
It wasn’t just traditional elόtes that they brought to the people. They also have elόte in the form of bowls, nachos and platters. Customers can add bacon and sour cream to their elόte for an additional charge.
Every menu item is made with the same sweet corn, which 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 that America has to offer — no other sweet corn in the world compares to American sweet corn — and a recipe from Latin America and see what we can do with it,” Pascher said. “And here we are.”
Johnny Lόte’s Latin Street Corn can be found at Akron RubberDucks home games, downtown Cuyahoga Falls, the Barberton Farmers Market from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, and various other events in the summit county area.
Name: Johnny Lόte’s Latin Street Corn
How to find it: The truck’s weekly schedule and daily updates are posted on its Facebook page
4. Eddies Famous Cheesesteaks
To ensure that we are all on the same page, let it be known that the owner’s name is Ed Sutter and not in fact Eddie.
Now that that is taken care of, we can dive into how Eddies Famous Cheesesteaks came to be.
The Eddies brand began in 1992 with Eddie’s Pizzeria, which featured the cheesesteak that Eddies in now known for on its menu. Sutter would often visit cheesesteak festivals, so in 2008 he traveled to Panama City, Florida, just at the start of spring break to sell his cheesesteaks and was overwhelmed by the demand they garnered. After four years of traveling between Akron and Panama City, Sutter gave the cheesesteaks a permanent home in Akron through Eddies Famous Cheesesteaks.
This year, Sutter traded in his 9-foot trailer for a 22-foot food truck that has a 10-foot hood and triple the fryer space. The new vehicle was unveiled to the public at Highland Square’s PorchRokr Music and Art Festival in August.
The main items on the new truck’s menu are cheesesteak, chicken, and fries in addition to toppings and sauces like homemade spicy giardiniera and house-made flavored ketchups.
Curious foodies can also check out the brick-and-mortar location in downtown Akron, which has additional dishes not available on the food truck such as gyros and Italian sausages.
Name: Eddies Famous Cheesesteaks
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 pm. Monday-Friday (Akron location)
How to find it: Check the truck’s Facebook page and other social media for event information
5. Three-way tie
Swensons 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 as much about the restaurant’s food trucks.
The company launched its first food truck in 2013 for Northeast Ohio and a second in 2018 for Columbus. Unlike most food trucks, both are outfitted with full-sized kitchen equipment to ensure equal quality from the stationary and mobile kitchens. The truck’s bestselling items are the Galley Boy and double cheeseburg, according to Kevin Howley, senior director of marketing.
To book a Swensons food truck, visit its website’s food truck page.
Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food
Next up is Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food, which is owned by Juan Gonzalez (yes, the same Juan from The Funky Truckeria), Jesus Reyes and Alejo Gutierrez.
Their truck’s bestsellers are nachos and burritos, possibly because the cooks marinate the meat for 48 hours and cut it themselves at their brick-and-mortar location on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
The food truck’s schedule is posted weekly on its Facebook page.
El Malecon is owned by Janire Mendez and can be found parked outside its future brick-and-mortar location at 813 Elma St. in Akron. Once the North Hill restaurant opens, Mendez plans to keep the food truck and possibly acquire another one in the future for events and marketing.
Its bestselling dish is the California burrito, which is filled with grilled chicken, chorizo, steak, rice, beans, lettuce, guacamole, pico, sour cream, shredded cheese and topped with queso dip and hot sauce with fries on the side.
If you don’t see the truck on Elma Street, contact its Facebook page for its whereabouts.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at [email protected] and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.