Mobile dessert trucks gear up for Los Angeles turf war
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Cupcakes are the new tacos. Mobile is the new sit-down. And Los Angeles is definitely ground zero for a brewing battle royal among mobile dessert vendors.
Like some sweet mutant spawn of the Kogi truck, three new contenders -- the Locali Icycle,Coolhaus and the Sprinklesmobile-- are adding their own gourmet touches to the dessert-on-wheels scene. And keep your eye on Babycakes NYC, the New York bakery that’s opening its first L.A. storefront downtown on 6th Street near Cole’s and the Association. Owner Erin McKenna says he plans to roll out a mobile cupcake truck after the store opens, which will hopefully be in September.
Locali, the ‘conscience convenience’ store that opened in January on Franklin Avenue near Beachwood Canyon, just began peddling -- or is that pedaling? -- a variety of frozen treats around town on its Icycle, a custom-built adult tricycle. Treats include Locali’s house-made snow cones in flavors like banana, mango, cherry cola, grape, pumpkin, coconut, cinnamon and key lime pie. Bonus: They’re sweetened with brown rice syrup or diabetic-friendly Xylitol. They also offer raw vegan ice cream from Tomberlies in strawberry, chocolate, mint and vanilla; individually-sized containers of ice cream and sorbet from farmers market favorite Carmela’s in flavors like salted caramel, cucumber and cardamom; exotic Popshop popsicles in flavors like wheatgrass, mojito and avocado vanilla; vegan ice cream sandwiches by So Delicious; two varieties of frozen vegan cheesecake; gluten-free brownies from the Sensitive Baker in Culver City; and more. The Icycle has so far made stops at Larchmont Village, Amoeba Records in Hollywood, Sunset Junction and West Hollywood.
When you hear the oft-repeated tagline that Coolhaus specializes in architecturally themed ice cream sandwiches, you might imagine mounds of ice cream carved into Moorish domes, Roman columns or Googie swoops. Instead, Coolhaus sells bespoke ice cream sandwiches that look like something your mom whipped up as an after-school snack. The cleverness is all in the smartypants names and the gourmet touches are in the flavor combinations: Frank Behry (a sugar cookie with strawberry ice cream), Mies Vanilla Rohe (an oatmeal cookie with cinnamon ice cream); Richard Meier Lemon (a ginger cookie with lemon ice cream); Mintimalism (a chocolate cookie with mint chip ice cream); I.M. Peinut Butter (take a guess). After a splashy public launch at the Coachella Music Festival in April, Coolhaus has been spotted from Stories Cafe in Echo Park and Artwalk Culver City to downtown L.A. and Venice. Look for Coolhaus outside concert venues, film festivals, art gallery events and the like. You might even spot them at the Studio City Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings.
Sprinkles, the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze, is preparing to deploy its own mobile dessert machine. It’s a 22-foot customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (i.e. a glorified delivery can) that can hold up to 1500 cupcakes. So far it’s only visited the set of an ‘Entourage’ party and a couple of private events, but it should hit the streets of Los Angeles in mid-June carrying the bakery’s standard line of flavors including vanilla, chocolate, red velvet and more.
Photos, from left: Locali Icycle; Coolhaus ice cream standwiches. Credits, from left: Locali; Brian Leatart / Coolhaus.