New Pensacola food trucks add vegan, fried chicken and birria options to city's food scene

Jake Newby
Pensacola News Journal

There's a new fleet of Pensacola food trucks for you to "fall" in love with this autumn. 

As has been the case since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pensacola and the low-overhead business model that is the mobile food truck have been a perfect pair, as the city has proven to support the bunches of new concepts that pop up each quarter. 

The tail end of summer 2021 brought five new trucks that are in the process of leaving their tire tracks on Pensacola's foodie community. 

Owner Jason Beck tosses fries with seasoning Sept. 14 in his Loudoe's food truck along Navarre Parkway in Navarre.

Loudoe's 

Address: 8508 Navarre Parkway

Hours: 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Facebook: facebook.com/Loudoes-Food-Truck-112311670506065

Information: It's not a stretch to say that Loudoe's is incomparable to anything else in or around the Navarre's restaurant scene. 

Since opening in mid-July, this burger and sandwich-heavy concept powered by a mother and son ownership duo has generated buzz by making a vegan alternative of every meat-based item on its menu. 

"It's basically an equal opportunity place to eat at between Pensacola's vegan and vegetarian community and the meat-eating community," co-owner and chef Jason Beck said Tuesday.

Owner Jason Beck adjusts the menu boards outside his Loudoe's food truck along Navarre Parkway in Navarre on Sept. 14.

Jason Beck, who works in lockstep with his mom, Cindy Beck, said one of Loudoe's hottest commodities is "The Rose," which is a burger made with grilled Gouda cheese, bacon, strawberry jam and arugula. "The Vegan Rose" is a meatless mirror of that top seller, and is made with a beyond burger with vegan cheese, vegan bacon bites and a vegan potato bun. 

Beck said he feels like the new business has filled a void in Navarre. 

"I know Pensacola has a bunch of vegan stuff because me and my mom are vegetarians, we go out there to eat all the time," he said. "But we felt like in Navarre there wasn't much. So we'd say probably 20% of our customers are vegan now. Which is pretty cool." 

Ballyhoo

Address: 2435 N. 12th Ave., behind Alga Brewing Co. 

Hours: About 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

Information: The owners of Magnolia on East Cervantes Street have gravitated toward the food truck game in the name of a partnership with East Hill's newest craft brewery. 

Ballyhoo owner Bill Manning said he whips up "Little League ballpark-style food with a twist here and there." And to pique the interest of Pensacola's growing vegan community once again, Ballyhoo does meat- and dairy-free versions of a lot of its items. 

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"We want to make sure that things are balanced out for everybody," Manning said Tuesday. "Different vegan dogs, we do make a vegan beer cheese. We've done vegan chili a few times, which goes fine on a normal dog, too. So yeah, we do want to make sure we balance it out and have something for everybody." 

Recently Manning has introduced an authentic, Chicago-style beef sandwich, a regional treat that isn't exactly easy to find in Pensacola. 

All menu items are designed to complement the beer stylings of Alga, which opened at the beginning of August

El Toro Gordo

Address: 2581 Ryale Road in Cantonment

Hours: 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sunday through Friday

Facebook: facebook.com/ElToroGordoFL

El Toro Gordo in Cantonment opened earlier this summer.

Information: Birria tacos are all the rage in Pensacola and this new food truck is raging right along with that trend. 

Birria tacos, quesadillas and even a three for $8 birria meal deal can be had at this brand new Cantonment taco truck. 

Birria taco craze reaches Pensacola. Here's who sells them, how they're made and more

But that's not all — El Toro Gordo off of Highway 29 makes birria ramen, which consists of ramen noodles marinated in birria consome with birria beef on top and served with cilantro, onion and lime. 

All of El Toro Gordo's sauces are handmade from scratch. 

Jason Stanley gets his change after ordering lunch Sept. 14 at Loudoe's food truck along Navarre Parkway in Navarre.

Cruz's Crepes

Address: 4636 Forsyth St. in Bagdad

Hours: 5-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturdays

Facebook: facebook.com/cruzscrepes

Information: When one thinks of crepes, their mind may rightfully drift off to France. 

But the father and son team at Cruz's Crepes was actually inspired to grace Santa Rosa County with their sweet and savory treats based on the crepe's popularity in their hometown of Tabasco, Mexico. 

"Surprisingly, we have a big French influence in Mexico, in the southeast," owner Sergio Cruz explained Tuesday. "So we do have lots of crepes where I'm from, in the malls and the street." 

Twelve different Cruz's Crepes variations line the menu at this truck, which opened in mid-July. Many of those are handmade by 16-year-old Caleb Cruz, who came up with the rubber duck logo and branding theme the business bears. 

"Currently we have 12 options, and our theme is different for the savory options, so we have Italian, France, Mexican style, Yucatan," Sergio Cruz said. "Then we have the sweets. There's one that we name after a local main road here, it's called 'Berryhill.'" 

Recognizing northwest Florida's propensity for tourist activity, Cruz Crepe's created the "Honeymoon," a sweet crepe made with bananas, honey, peanut butter, whipped cream and pecans. 

"That's our best seller," Cruz added. "It's amazing. It's really good." 

Nothing is set in stone, Crepes is looking to move onto the more visible Dogwood Drive in the near future. Follow the business' Facebook page above for updates. 

What The Cluck Chicken Truck 

Address: At 3808 N. 12th Ave. (Wisteria Tavern) on Sundays and Mondays

Hours: Hours vary

Facebook: facebook.com/WhatTheCluckChickenTruck

Information: After months of social media teasing, What The Cluck Chicken Truck has arrived in Pensacola. 

The business is hoping Pensacolians will soon associate What The Cluck's loud, orange-colored vehicle with traditional southern fried chicken, if they haven't already. 

What The Cluck fries up chicken wings, white and dark meat combination meals, a chicken club and even a fusion banh mi sandwich. Wing sauces include buffalo, garlic Parmesan, lemon pepper (wet or dry), honey Sriracha and "Thai Chic." 

What The Cluck just opened in early September and is still ironing out a set schedule. Visit its Facebook page above for scheduling and location updates. 

Jake Newby can be reached at jnewby@pnj.com or 850-435-8538.