MILWAUKEE — Food truck season is here and Tatay's Truck (TAH-ties) is serving up some delicious Filipino food.
Some of the most popular items are the 'Hot Chick' which is a "garlic rice, Filipino Teriyaki chicken, pickled red onion, siracha-calamansi aioli, and scallions" or the kabobs with a side of white or garlic rice. I had the 'Hot Chick', and it was absolutely delicious.
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“Food and family is so central in our culture, that when you leave [food out], a big part of you feels like it's missing a lot of times. So we’re happy to be able to provide a moment of it," Alexa Alfaro, who owns the food truck, said.
Tatay's is Tagalog for dad. The truck is inspired by her father and all the traditional Filipino meals he would cook for the family. It even has his face plastered on the sides of the truck.
May 27 was the opening day for the food truck and dozens lined up to get a taste. However, Tatay's is serving up more than just food. They are on a cultural mission. It's a celebration of Filipino heritage, from the food being cooked on the inside, to the painting on the outside.
"We wanted to make the truck like bright and vibrant, like tropical, like the Philippines. It's 7,000 islands," Alfaro said.
The truck operates like a mobile mural. It's a cornucopia of color and flowers. The Sampaguita, which is the national flower of the Philippines, is featured prominently around the truck. Even having a Tagalog word on the outside is important. Alfaro said it has already made an impact on people passing by, one woman in particular.
"Like a Tagalog word. You put a Filipino word on the truck, and I think for her to see that, it invoked so much emotion and that's exactly what I’m going for."
Tatay's Truck is part of the Meat on the Street umbrella. Meat on the Street is a physical storefront and catering service. They went through a re-brand of the food truck to properly execute their mission of celebrating and sharing Filipino culture.
"You can’t do culture for the sake of culture, right? It's really wanting to be intentional about like our business, our company, and our philosophy, and being able to do that," she said.
Alfaro is hoping for a better summer business season than last year. Like many in the food industry, Meat on the Street took a big hit. Alfaro said they lost around 80 percent of their business. This year they are just hoping for some normalcy.
That shouldn't be too hard with food that looks as good as what they are cooking.