Almost each night, because the solar units over Puerto Rico’s capital, town’s flavorful nightlife is ushered in by a refrain of chirping that fills the air: the eponymous croak of the coqui.
The small tree frog is native to the Island of Enchantment, the place Phoenix meals truck house owners Alexis Carbajal and Juan Alberto Ayala started their journey as companions, each in enterprise and life.
“Nearly anyplace that you simply go, you’ll hear it at evening,” Carbajal says of the coqui frog’s name. “We sort of adopted [the coqui] as our mascot … if one thing represents us, it’s that it’s small and it’s loud.”
In 2017, Carbajal and Ayala launched Phoenix Coqui, a Puerto Rican meals truck with a reputation that was really significant to boricuas — to match the nice and cozy service and household environment the truck brings to wherever it units up store.
Right this moment, the truck is the No. 1 Puerto Rican meals truck in Arizona and, certainly, the most effective locations to order up some genuine Puerto Rican favorites, together with moveable consolation meals.
This recipe for fulfillment started in 2013, when Carbajal traveled to Puerto Rico for the primary time. He remembers not solely falling in love with the sandy seashores, palm timber, tropical breezes and distinct delicacies, but in addition with Ayala, a local of Toa Alta, on the island’s northern aspect.
It wasn’t lengthy earlier than Carbajal moved to Puerto Rico and the duo began dreaming of beginning a enterprise collectively. “We knew what we wished,” Carbajal says. “We wished a meals enterprise and we wished it to be cell. It simply got here right down to which of the 2 locations had the very best alternative for us.”
The pair already had all the appropriate elements. Ayala’s background in restaurant administration and different facets of the culinary trade, together with the affect of his grandmother’s cooking, positioned him as “the mastermind behind the recipes and preparation of the meals.” And Carbajal introduced practically a decade of expertise working in startups, which accounts for the opposite half of the enterprise, together with advertising and marketing and social media.
They in the end determined to return to Carbajal’s hometown of Phoenix to launch their truck, and so they’ve discovered a house and group within the Melrose District, one Phoenix’s eclectic neighborhoods that’s best-known for its LGBTQ+ bars and vintage retailers — and now Puerto Rican delicacies that attracts foodies from all walks of life.
The truck serves an everyday menu that includes such objects because the Tripleta, a three-meat sandwich made with pork, hen, ham and garlic-mayo. Different standard staples embody tostones, fried plantains with garlic-mayo for dipping; pernil, pulled pork served with rice and salad; and empanadillas, flaky turnovers stuffed together with your selection of beef, hen mushrooms or cheese.
On the particular menu, which varies, prospects can stay up for rotating objects that embody pollo guisado, hen in tomato-garlic sauce served with white rice and kidney beans (hen stew), alcapurria, fried inexperienced banana dough full of seasoned floor beef (fritters), and mofongo, fried inexperienced plantains mashed and blended with garlic, seasoning and pork rinds and topped with jumbo shrimp.
In line with Carbajal, each Phoenix-based Puerto Ricans in addition to Caribbean delicacies fanatics have informed the couple that Phoenix Coqui’s meals reminds them of dwelling cooking in Puerto Rico.
“I feel that’s in all probability the most important praise we obtain … apart from coming again for seconds,” he laughs. “We attempt to use our place right here … to bridge that hole and supply folks with some extra consciousness about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican tradition.”
However at the same time as each Carbajal and Ayala say they take satisfaction in the truth that their meals is genuine and made with love,’ the pair additionally agrees their enterprise is about greater than feeding prospects. Each say Phoenix Coqui can also be a spot for the group to return collectively; the meals is simply the centerpiece.
“That is the magical factor about our little meals truck,” Carbajal says. “We see it proper earlier than our eyes, folks connecting. Constructing group is admittedly on the coronary heart of what we do.”
Phoenix Coqui at the moment operates exterior The Rock, 4129 N. Seventh Ave., within the Melrose District on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.