Keep On Truckin': Ladybird

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Earlier this week, Sarah Rufca's article at CultureMap inspired me to get out and try several of the new food trucks that have hit the streets lately. I'm already currently obsessed with The Rice Box -- and that's having only eaten there twice -- so I headed out yesterday to try Ladybird.

I don't know if Ladybird's name is an homage to Lady Bird Johnson herself or Hank Hill's hound dog on King of the Hill. Either way, the little converted school bus is offering what I'll call some interesting Texan takes on old favorites. Ladybird doesn't seem to quite know how to describe itself either, offering a similar description of its food on its Twitter page: "Ladybird offers tasty, creative food inspired by familiar favorites."

Yesterday afternoon, I found Ladybird parked in a shady corner of the Menil Collection's parking lot. I sat with my back to the slow stream of West Alabama traffic while I waited a few minutes for my food, and watched as Ladybird sold what ended up being some of its last meals of the day; the bus had already run out of food by 1:55 p.m. And it was easy to see why.

I ordered the chicken tikka tacos and grilled cheese sandwich, the latter of which has been drawing raves from my friends (and from Rufca in her own post). While the chicken in the tacos was dry and tough, I had no complaints about the rest of the food.

The tortillas on those tikka tacos, for one, were legit flour tortillas. Homemade. With lots of lard. The kind of homemade that makes the tortillas stiffen after a few minutes off the griddle because of all that lovely, translucent lard. I found myself taking out the chicken and instead enjoying every last bite of tortilla with just the garnishes inside. (Side note: I will now be garnishing my flour tortillas with pickled red onions, diced radishes and mint chutney.)

The grilled cheese was even better, reminding me slightly of a similar grilled cheese sandwich I enjoyed at The Bird & The Bear on two slices of tall, buttery brioche. Here at Ladybird, the bread isn't as craggy or toasty but holds together the Texas goat cheese and bright orange cheddar admirably as fat slices of fried green tomato tries to slip out the sides.

The sandwich is good on its own, but bumped up to expert-level with the punchy acidity of a side of pickled okra remoulade. You could slather it on the sandwich, but I'm afraid that you'd destroy the structure of the thing itself in the process. I recommend dunking; the plastic ramekin is just the right size for such a task.

With a can of Pellegrino lemonade, my lunch (far too much for one person, it should be noted) came to $13.50, or an even $15 with tip. Add in another soft drink and you'd have a lunch for two for far less than $20. And where else in Houston right now offers the soft carpet of the Menil's front lawn as its "patio"?

Follow Ladybird on Twitter for times and locations. It's not at the Menil Collection every day, but that's the best time to catch this rare bird.

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