How today’s food trucks stay rolling in Baton Rouge

Around 2012, it seemed the food truck bubble was at its fullest. Chefs all over the country had drawn inspiration from the big cities to create mobile eateries, and Baton Rouge was no exception. We once packed our own weekly Wednesday “wround-ups” around town. Foodies could indulge in myriad flavors all during one meal, from pizza to barbecue to burgers to snoballs.

But every bubble has to burst.

We’ve seen food trucks come and go. Some, like Curbside Burgers, eventually transitioned to a more stable brick-and-mortar setup. To others, like erstwhile trucks Pullin’ Pork, Three Bones and Red, White, & Que, we said goodbye for good. Some of the still-
operating trucks like Taco de Paco and Cupcake Allie stick to festivals and events.   

But the food truck isn’t extinct in Baton Rouge. With a little strategy, new food truck owners have brought the trend back in the city this year.

According to owners, there are three big keys to making it in Baton Rouge: location, timing and the product itself.  

Some, like Jason Harbison of The Big Cheezy, depend on a key audience: partiers out on weekend nights in Tigerland, where his truck is parked Thursday through Sunday. He keeps super late hours—6 p.m. to 2 a.m—at his post in the Fred’s Bar parking lot, and he says he’s never had a more voracious customer than Greeks stumbling out of Reggie’s with middle-of-the-night munchies.

“They love our Mac ‘N Cheezy—bacon mac and cheese on a grilled cheese,” Harbison says. “At that point in the night, there’s nothing better.”

It’s a perfect marriage of menu, time and place. And it’s the secret to staying afloat as a food truck in 2018 Baton Rouge.

Basel’s Market food truck, purveyor of light and breezy lunch fare, brings the truck to office parks and downtown businesses right at the lunch hour. Rock Paper Taco has set up shop regularly at Tin Roof Brewery, where thirsty brewery customers quickly become hungry food truck customers. And Tacos y Mariscos Los Plebes serves up dishes so memorable in an area of town with a large Latino population, you’re unlikely to forget about the truck for a long time.

We took a look into three food trucks making it work in Baton Rouge to better understand how they’re building their client base and keeping the wheels turning.


An offshoot of Calvin’s Bocage Market—owner Kalyn Lindsly is the daughter of the Calvin’s owners—Basel’s launched late last year. The hand-restored ’77 Chevrolet step van travels the city serving people where they work.
Over lunch break at the Bon Carre Technology Center on Florida Boulevard, Basel’s sets the parking brake and dishes out the goods. Employees head out of the office for a treat they’ve come to look forward to: build-your-own gourmet sandwiches. Basel’s pops up regularly here, as well as a few other 9-to-5 hotspots like downtown and Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“We show them that we’ll come to them, that we go above and beyond,” owner Kalyn Lindsly (pictured in hat) says. “Then it’s catering; it’s invitations to come to corporate events. You build from there.”


Taco truck owner Josh Duke (not pictured) knows a thing or two about food and booze—he’s also the co-owner of gastropub Olive or Twist. When he set out to open his own taco truck after getting inspired by Texas chain Torchy’s Tacos, he knew the perfect way to introduce it to Baton Rouge would be a residency at Tin Roof Brewery.
Duke opted to stay put for the first year not just for the reliability of clientele at an established brewery but for the chance to focus on the menu. “I thought it would be a way to introduce the concept to Baton Rouge on a smaller scale,” Duke told 225 in March about being approached by Tin Roof, “to try to perfect some tacos and some salsa and work on marketing and building a brand.”
In addition to the brewery’s recurring miniature food truck fests (which also feature local food trucks like Pops and Rockets, Mr. Ronnie’s Famous Hot Donuts and Fete au Fete), Rock Paper Taco stays open during Tin Roof’s hours, feeding customers who need something to complement the beers brewed there.


At Tacos y Mariscos Los Plebes, owners Fernando Luviano and Rosa Rojo employ the “wow” factor to build and maintain their customer base. The truck is known for towering creations, mostly with seafood, from tacos and tostadas to ceviche overflowing from a whole coconut and bowl-sized cocktails topped with octopus and avocado. The visuals are so striking, you’re unlikely to forget your first, second or third time with Los Plebes.

This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.