Eating On the Road: Capitol Reef Food Trucks

On a recent weekend escape to Southern Utah, we landed in Torrey tired, hungry, and a little grumpy from the drive, if I’m being honest. We operated under the “we’ll just leave after work and make a quick drive down” philosophy. The one where you forget that rush hour traffic is a thing, and a three-and-a-half hour drive (in theory) will be closer to five hours. Road trip snacks were not cutting it anymore when we rolled into town. Torrey has some great restaurants, but I was not feeling fit for public consumption. I wanted minimal interaction with humans and looked pretty rumpled. 

We lucked out and drove past a food truck, just getting ready to close. Parked on Torrey’s main (only?) drag, they took pity on us and let us order. Hooray for small towns and food trucks, and friendly people. 

I was impressed, and to be honest, we ate almost exclusively at Capitol Reef food trucks for the remainder of the trip. I don’t know about you, but when I’m dusty from the trail, sore from a day of hiking, and hungry for more than jerky and trail mix, the last thing I want to do is shower, get cleaned up, and head back out for dinner. The food trucks we discovered were the perfect solution. We could devour our food in the parking lot (or on a curb, or in our hotel room, or in the car) without feeling out of place. 

Here are some food truck stops you need to make when you’re in the area. We highly recommend checking websites, google listings, or social media for hours and locations (and if they are even open). And know they may not be parked in the same spot throughout the day. 

Capitol Reef Food: Autentico Street Tacos | Torrey, Utah

We ended up at Autentico Street Tacos more than once; it was that good. Over the course of a couple of meals, we ate pretty much everything on the menu. You should know a couple of things: 1) These are authentic as advertised. The corn tortillas tasted handmade, and the flavors were very traditional. Bonus points for being thick enough that you only needed one tortilla instead of two, which is rare. 2) The refried beans are not vegetarian. Which is also proper. 3) The accompanying salsas are homemade and lean towards spicy. 

We got the Al Pastor tacos, which came with slices of grilled pineapple instead of the ubiquitous canned pineapple chunks. It made the pineapple more than just a pop of fruit. It makes for a vibrant, extra juicy, and smoky foil for the rich and spicy pork. It was chilly that first night, and the sunset colors, orange and red, warmed the soul. 

Speaking of pork, the slow-simmered Pork in Salsa Verde tacos was mellow and tart compared to the sweet and flamboyant Al Pastor. The real showstopper (yes, I used the word showstopper when talking about a food truck) is the El Autentico Taco. Spread out between two tortillas (it is too big for just one) is a fire-grilled “steak,” aka flank steak, grilled spring onions, queso fresco, fresh guac, and grilled nopales, which is a type of cactus. Hands down, it was the best street taco I’ve had in a long time. The special touch of cooking the queso fresco on a flattop grill so it was crispy and melty, along with the astringent flavor of the nopales, made it somehow both unique and traditional. You’ll walk away feeling like your favorite abuela made you lunch. Even if you don’t have an abuela. 

I’ll say here that if you don’t douse your street tacos in extra lime juice and homemade hot sauce, you and I can’t be friends. It would be like eating lasagna without cheese. 

How to find Autentico Street Tacos: Visit their social media pages. They are often parked along the main drag in Torrey, Utah. 

Capitol Reef Food: Capitol Burger | Torrey, Utah

Named for the beautiful and nearby Capitol Reef National Park, Capitol Burger is what you dream of in the best diner burger. Cooked mid-rare, the beef crispy around the edges from being smashed down, made with American cheese – as is only proper. But the real magic comes with the toppings. Think garlic crimini mushrooms + caramelized onions + blue cheese or pulled pork with pickled jalapenos and house-made BBQ sauce. Over the course of four days in Torrey, we managed to find our way there twice. 

Owned by Luck Fowles and his wife, Sunny, this food truck has its origins in fine dining. Luke was on the team at Forage before hanging up the white linens and precision plating for his Southern Utah food truck. But you’ll catch hints of his attention to detail – from the house-ground local beef and freshly made brioche buns. 

My favorite, hands down, was the Pastrami Burger with house-cured pastrami, provolone, slaw, and that Utah of all Utah classics – fry sauce. The pastrami was thick-cut, peppery, and fatty. A chef-y nod to one of our original fast food joint classics. Get the shoestring fries to go along with it. Just go all in. 

The crowd-pleaser and probably the most ‘gradable burger is the Mac n Cheese Burger. Smothered in sauced macaroni and topped with smoked bacon and coal-roasted green chilies, the slather of whole grain mustard keeps it grounded in reality and tames all the decadent. Find a good view (there are lots of them in Torrey) and take your photos. Guaranteed, everyone will ask where you got THAT.

How to find Capitol Burger: Visit their social media pages. They are often parked along the main drag in Torrey, Utah. 

Magnolias Street Food | Boulder, Utah 

Driving past the Anasazi State Park Visitors Center on Highway 12 heading into Boulder, Utah, you can’t miss the aqua blue Chevy Bluebird Bus in the parking lot. The permanent home to Magnolias Street Food, it is the perfect pit stop after a long drive. Serving breakfast and lunch, I stopped there to visit Hell’s Backbone Farm for another article and arrived at the farm a little stuffed but very happy. 

Working with lots of fresh veggies, house-made pickle-y fermented things work their way into every part of the menu. Their kimchi is fantastic, and a bottle of the habanero hot sauce *may* have made its way home with me. 

Speaking of kimchi, the Kimchi Hotdog is delicious. And the perfect post-hiking guilty pleasure treat. If you are going for a guilty pleasure, dive in and get the Loaded Fries – topped with the crispy carnitas-style pork. They are hand cut and deeply satisfying. If you want a more basic bite, the street tacos will treat you well.

While they are outside the immediate Capitol Reef food circle, if you are driving up to Boulder or taking Hell’s Backbone to Escalante, they are worth the pit stop.

Where to find Magnolias Street Food: Find them permanently parked at the Anasazi State Park Museum parking lot at 460 UT-12 Boulder, UT 84716

Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinezhttp://www.saltlakemgazine.com
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to lydia@saltlakemagazine.com

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