While a number of local food trucks offer surprisingly healthy options (see, for instance, our roundup of vegetarian options on the scene), there's no denying that much of the fare offered is far from diet-friendly. By mid-February, gym rats will have a special body-conscious truck just for them: the Muscle Truck.
It's powered by Gables Juice Bar and Muscle Pizza, a calorie-controlled favorite on the downtown Coral Gables lunch circuit. The brick-and-mortar location has been doing brisk business for some 15 years. But Michael Suarez, co-owner of the place alongside mom Belkys and stepdad Fernando, decided to take things mobile at the dawn of the now-defunct Miami Street Food Court on SW 65th Avenue and Bird Road.
"The owner of the lot at 65th and Bird came to me with the idea of starting the food truck court, and I linked him up with Tanya from Food Cart U.S.A., and that's how the food courts actually started," Suarez says. "Right then and there, I told [the owner of the lot] I was going to build one."
He's benefiting by entering the fray after the first wave of trailblazers. Approval from the state department of hotels and restaurants has been going smoothly, and truck design has been easy, he says. "Food Cart U.S.A. makes it pretty smooth to get everything going," he says, "helping you figure out how you'd like the truck to be and how it's best to work the truck based on what you're serving."
What he's serving is a pared-down version of favorites from the original juice bar. That includes a rotating selection of made-to-order smoothies and fresh-squeezed vegetable juices, as well as chicken and turkey picadillo wraps, chicken chops (light versions of the ubiquitous chicken-over-rice bowls).
Most interestingly for the scene, though, the truck will also offer the Juice Bar's "muscle pizza." It's made with a higher-protein, lower-carb crust and clocking in at just under 500 calories for a 10-inch personal pie.
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Another distinction is that while wraps will be assembled and toasted to order, most of the other hot food options will be prepared at the truck's commissary kitchen and then kept warm on the truck. "I'm trying to keep the wait time down," Suarez explains.
Prices are still to be decided, but they, too, should be relatively gentle, either equaling or coming in just under the restaurant's prices. Currently that's $3.95 to $4.50 for a smoothie, $5.95 a wrap, $8.45 for a full-size chop, or $7.99 for a personal pizza.
Suarez expects the Muscle Truck to get on the road within the next three weeks, and is hoping to join some of the established food courts. Follow the juice bar and truck at @GablesJuiceBar, and we'll post more details here when it's ready to roll.