Food truck showdown: a growing scene in El Paso
It's a Friday night in west El Paso. A group of food trucks are set up in the Title Max parking lot near Mesa and Remcon Circle.
The chefs and cooks
"My name is Marc and I'm the owner of the Untamed Chef Food Truck," said Marc Brammer.
"The Untamed Chef came from my background working in the kitchen probably close to 20 years," Brammer told CBS 4 as we filmed him during a shoot for a special on the food trucks. "I said if I ever get my own chance to do what I want in the kitchen I want to just go crazy with it."
"It's the same amount of work, but a lot smaller confinement so that was the hardest thing to adjust to, making room for everything that you want and then later on you find that you don't need most of it," said Brammer.
He's been in business for less than a year, but has already attracted some diehard followers.
"It's my vice," said Jim Hastings, who said he's tried most of the food trucks, but keeps coming back for Brammer's sandwiches.
"Hello my name is Carlos Macias. I'm the owner of Charly's Rolling Kitchen.
"We do mostly Mexican food. We do American sandwiches. We do a little bit of everything," said Macias of his truck. "My truck actually represents autism. I'm a big advocate for autism. I have a son with autism."
"I always had the bug of having my own business. I used to work restaurants since I got out of high school. I noticed a difference when you work in a restaurant than when you work in a food truck," said Macias.
"In a restaurant, yeah, you know what you're eating, but you don't know who is cooking your food. And I always wanted to have that interaction with the customer," said Macias.
"Hello my name is Joseph Ortega and I run 915 Top Chef and we do Argentine cuisine.
"I thought I could bring something different to El Paso," said Ortega. "We have a variety of empanadas."
Options, options, options
"It's just like a very relaxing spot. You have all kinds of things to get from. Mexican. Korean. Thai grub. American stuff. Choose whatever you feel like eating," said Alexis Olmos.
There's been a boom of food trucks in recent years. Numbers from the Department of Public Health show there are more than 500 licensed food trucks in the city of El Paso. That's more than double the number from five years ago.
"It's allowing future chefs to get their names out there without spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a brick-and-mortar store. The upstart is 10 percentof what it costs to open up a restaurant," said Brammer.
"A lot of people think this is easy. And it's not," said Macias.
"We kind of follow Austin. And Austin is just crazy right now with food trucks. So I think we're just going to keep growing for the next few years," said Brammer.
"It's competition, but it's all friendly competition. Everyone puts their own touch to it," said Macias.
The owners hope to build a food truck park on the west side of town. It would give them a more permanent place to call home.
"I know a lot of people have the stigma that food truck food is nasty, that it's dirty and it's not. Believe it or not, we have pretty good product out here," said Macias.
"They are the real deal. There's real food. There's some amazing cooks and chefs out here," said Brammer.
You can find these food trucks every weekend at the Title Max parking lot along Mesa Street in west El Paso.
There are also food trucks set up on the eastside at Ricky's Paintball and Firewood along Zaragoza Road and roaming many other locations across the city.