Why: Esoteric BBQ rolled onto the streets of downtown Vancouver in March. The food cart, a truck-and-trailer combo, is not difficult to spot. The bright red trailer sports a chrome belt around the base and its logo on each side. It is set up with food service on one end and an outdoor smoker on the other. A white truck motors the trailer to its various locations throughout the week.
On the menu: There are five types of meals to choose from: a salad, tacos, sandwich on a pub bun, a bowl and a four-item meal. Meat options are beef tri-tip, kalua pork, and barbecue chicken. There are five sides: Smoked Mac, broccoli slaw, barbecue black beans, pineapple-lime rice, and a gluten-free honey buttermilk corn bread. Grilled vegetables may be substituted for meat in any of the meals.
What I tried: I had the smoked tacos with kalua pork and barbecued chicken thigh meat. The pork is wrapped in banana leaves and smoked until it is fully cooked, and the chicken is seasoned with cracked pepper, garlic and paprika and then mixed with a homemade marionberry whiskey barbecue sauce. Both of the meats sounded delicious, so I requested a mix of them on the tacos. The tacos are made with soft, fresh corn tortillas, filled with the meat of your choice and topped with a broccoli slaw (a pre-cut mix of broccoli stems, carrots and purple cabbage) and a lime jalapeno dressing.
I found the pork and chicken made a tasty taco filling. The meats were extremely tender and juicy with a scant amount of fat in the mix. I found the appetizing flavor from the smoking process distinguishable from any sauce added after the fact. The slaw was not drowning in the lime and jalapeno dressing, which was pleasant and kept the tacos from being too wet and falling apart easily.
Other observations: The barbecue flavors created at Esoteric BBQ and the menu items are a multicultural fusion with Southern, island, and Northwest influences. It does well at imparting a true barbecue experience on the streets of downtown Vancouver.
Service was friendly and fast.
Cost: Meal selections range from $6 to $12. Sides cost $2 to $4.50. Beverages are $1.50 and $3.
Hours: Lunch only from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Where: Monday: West 11th and Franklin streets. Tuesday: Turtle Place, West Seventh and Main streets. Wednesday: West 13th and Esther streets. Friday: Evergreen Boulevard and Broadway. Because Esoteric BBQ is a food cart, its daily locations are subject to change. For updates, watch its Facebook page: facebook.com/esotericbbq.
Health score: Esoteric BBQ has received a pre-opening inspection, which is not scored, and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.