If you’ve spent some time in L.A., you’re surely familiar with the food truck phenomenon. In fact, you’ve probably forked out a couple dollars for a few (dozen) late night tacos at your nearest corner food truck. Or maybe you’ve spent a Friday evening lined up at various trucks on Abbot Kinney, waiting hangrily for a sushirrito and an ice-cream sandwich. But with the plethora of food trucks popping up in L.A., it can be hard to know which trucks are worth lining up for and which trucks have a line just because the service is slow. So we’re gonna make it easy for you. If you see The Fix On Wheels parked in Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach, or wherever it may be, get in line and treat yourself to a stellar burger. With a side of garlic fries. You won’t be disappointed.
Wondering what sets The Fix on Wheels truck apart from the rest? You’ll understand as soon as you meet the owner of the truck, John Ou. His passion for the burgers he sells and the customers he serves is tangible. While chowing down on The Silverlake Burger, one of last weeks Off The Menu items, we learned about his story. And then we ate a grilled cheese. Cause it’s hard to resist anything coming out of The Fix On Wheels kitchen.
What’s the story behind The Fix on Wheels?
I spent most of my career on Wall Street. I was a bond trader for 17 years and I made good money during that time but I got sick of New York and the trading lifestyle. I decided to come back to L.A. and transition from trading to sales. After a while, the business changed and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Then one day, my friend Kenny called me up to get together for lunch. He was up in Northridge and I lived in Bel Air but he wanted to meet at The Fix, which is our friend’s burger restaurant in Silverlake. I wasn’t excited about driving out there but then I tried Paul’s burger. I’m not a huge burger guy, I usually don’t expect much from a burger, but this one was truly the best burger I’d ever had. I knew I wanted to do something different, something enjoyable post Wall Street. I’ve always liked good food, and this was something that interested me.
I talked to Paul, and told him that he had fantastic burgers but that he needed to expand. He wanted to do anther location but I convinced him to do a truck instead. That was in September, and when he agreed, I decided to resign from my job. For six months, I worked 12 hour days at his restaurant without pay, and he taught me everything I know about food. I planned the truck and then we launched it in March. We’ve been doing well ever since.
What makes your truck different from other burger trucks?
Trucks have done a really bad job of showing what you can do with a burger. They’ve just set the standards so low that everybody thinks a truck burger sucks. So when people try our burger, they’re really surprised, but in my opinion, a food truck is just a kitchen on wheels. If it’s a kitchen on wheels, you should be able to make anything.
Why did you choose the Silverlake Burger as your Off the Menu item?
The Silverlake burger is actually an existing menu item, and the reason I decided to go with an existing menu item as opposed to an off the menu item is because we’ve been in business for three and a half months and we are really an off-shoot or an affiliate of The Fix Burger in Silverlake. One of my objectives is to preach the gospel of The Fix Burger so I didn’t want to do something that was exclusively a truck item that you couldn’t get at The Fix Burger.
The Silverlake burger is the most popular burger that we sell. It’s lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, plus bacon, cheddar, and thousand island. I like to describe it as an In-N-Out burger with bacon on steroids. It’s very juicy and huge. At the regular restaurant, they do one half-pound patty but on the truck, we do two quarter-pound patties. It’s a pretty visually stunning burger.
Which side dish on the menu pairs best with the burger?
Our fries are fantastic. They have potato starch on the outside, which makes them really crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They’re seasoned with just salt. Everybody who has had our fries loves our fries. We also have garlic fries, which have both garlic powder and caramelized garlic on top.
Do you offer a vegetarian burger?
For vegetarians, we sometimes offer the homemade veggie patties from The Fix in Silverlake. But for our next Off The Menu item, we’re thinking of doing our special grilled cheese. We call it the Grilled Cheese José, named after one of my cooks. It’s sourdough, pesto, tomato, and provolone, and it tastes like pizza. It’s an amazing grilled cheese. I’m not a vegetarian but I would definitely order it for myself.
What inspires you in the kitchen? What is your process when creating new dishes?
A lot of it comes down to stuff I’ve tried and I like. I also think about the different venues were at, for example, Santa Monica Brew Works on 20th and Colorado. It’s a small, local microbrewery with a tasting room. We have a residency there on Friday, which is their busiest night. It’s a great crowd and I think about what they would want, or what I would want if I was a bar patron in their shoes. They don’t want the same burger every time so we try to offer different items. Because it’s a brewery, we lean more towards bar food, so we’ve made homemade chimichangas and taquitos with homemade salsa verde, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Tonight, we’re going to do a pulled pork sandwich and see how that works. We’re also messing around with a pork belly sandwich. So I try to do different things that I would want to try if I was at that venue.