Paella – the golden bed of rice loaded with chorizo, chicken, and veggies – may be the antithesis of fast food. Restaurants that serve it often require some advance warning, as well as a lengthy wait for delivery to your table.
Yet Simply Spanish, Xavi Vitta’s food truck tucked in the back of Mark’s Carts, will dish you up its own version on demand, providing a fast, inexpensive and delicious transport to Valencia that fits easily into your lunch hour. The plump grains of Arborio rice are saffron-infused and perfectly cooked, the chicken tender. There’s also a vegetarian version.
You can get the paella as a combo with a bright crisp salad to counter the dish’s heavy goodness, or you can blow out your calorie count for the day with bacon-wrapped dates, a pork-candy concoction featuring super-crisp strips wrapped around sticky dried fruit. Either will set you back only $11.
Sandwiches at $10 each include two vegetarian options: the Murciana, featuring grilled veggies and two kinds of cheese, or the Spanish Tortilla and Manchego, which stars the savory potato/egg omelet topped with the lusty sheep’s cheese on a chewy baguette; be sure to get aioli (garlic mayonnaise) on the side. Ravenous carnivores should tackle the Txistorra – pronounced something like “teeks-ee-storra” (but you can also just point) – in order to try the Basque version of chorizo. Sandwiches for a few dollars more include the Cuban, the Civito, or the Iberico Ham with crushed tomato and olive oil, which American food journalist Mark Bittman reported as “the best sandwich I’ve ever had.”
Go with a group and order a variety off the menu, including a tapas selection or two, maybe cod croquettes or mixed marinated olives. Pass the plates at one of the nearby picnic tables, and toast each other with San Pellegrino grapefruit soda. Feel more food savvy because you now get the distinct difference between Spanish and Mexican food; they may be cousins, but they have very different parents. Most of all, simply soak up two kinds of sun: the one shining down on you and the food shining up from your paper plate.