Walking up to a small, friendly, school bus food truck, I was welcomed with a warm, “hola, hello” from owner, Cynthia, a kind woman donning a bright red Panini Bus shirt which exclaims from the back, “Keep It Local, Loca!”. We chatted briefly as she went over the highlights of her hand printed menu with me, and I excitedly ordered The Billy Club – “an old school favorite filled with ham, turkey, bacon, and layered with Muenster cheese, mixed greens, and tomatoes”. This mouthful is order-able as a combo with fries and a soda, and as I happily upgraded, I was also treated to those fries being smothered in chili con queso, a local staple I’d never tried before and to which I would quickly become addicted. Cynthia is assisted today by her son as they are inundated with orders at the local downtown Farmer’s Market in El Paso, Texas. Busy as they are, each order is crafted personally, as though for a family member.
Finishing my first meal from The Panini Bus is bittersweet and haunting – and not just because the back of my tongue is still tingling from the mango habañero spread, which has been dancing across it for minutes now. My conversation with the owner and her son as they expertly prepped my custom sandwich and fries created a sense of welcome and friendship I consistently find within El Paso since my family arrived on her shores on All Hallow’s Eve this year. This meal was $10 and could easily be worth double. The Panini Bus is on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/PaniniBus and I’m told they also cater events! Follow them, find them, and always remember, “Eat Local, Loca!”